In the latest New York Islanders prospects report, we take a closer look at the Islanders 2020 Entry Draft class.
The New York Islanders 2020 draft class had a few surprises. Taking Swede Alexander Ljungkrantz in the third round surprised many. The speedy winger wasn’t on some draft analyst’s draft board let alone being selected in the third round.
Taking a 20-year-old and first-year professional Henrik Tikkanen in the seventh round was also a surprise. Tikkanen indicated to me that while he had an interview with the Islanders leading up to the draft he didn’t expect to get selected.
Now, just under two months since the draft, most of the Islanders picks continue to surprise with some great production. Here’s an update on how they’re doing as well as the rest of the Islanders prospect pool.
2020 Draft Class
Alexander Ljungkrantz (3rd round | Brynas)
14GP, 8G, 7A, 15pts (J20)
6GP, 0pts, 2:08ATOI
With Brynas’s J20 side on break until the New Year, Ljungkrantz is up with the SHL side. He’s skated in six games so far and averaging just over two minutes a game. He had 1:33 of game time on the 28th against Farjestad.
That’s not a lot of ice-time, I know, but as his GM told me “his time in the SHL will come”.
At the J20 level, he leads his team with 15 points in 16 games. He’s also in the top 10 for scoring in the J20 Norra (North) Division. Not bad for a kid who wasn’t even on some people’s draft board.
William Dufour (5th round | Drumondville Voltigeurs)
Season stats: 8GP, 6G, 4A, 10pts
Not everyone likes the bubble life, but Isles fifth-round pick William Dufour is making the most of it. Playing in the QMJHL’s Quebec bubble, Dufour has six goals over his last five games. Which includes a five-game goal streak.
I’m sure that streak comes to an end soon, but it’s impossible to deny how impressive it is from the fifth-round pick.
Matias Rajaniemi (6th round | Pelicans)
Season stats: 18GP, 2A, 2pts,13:36ATOI
The minutes aren’t quite there as they used to be for Rajaniemi. In 2019-20 the young defenseman was routinely averaging 20+ minutes a night. This season he’s averaging 13:36 a game.
I expect that changes as the season progresses and into next year where the Pelicans could be competing in Europe’s Champions Hockey League.
Henrik Tikkanen (7th round | IPK)
Season stats: 9GP, 2.55GAA, 0.901SV%
Henrik Tikkanen is having a good go of his first pro season. His 6-1-2 record for IPK has his team at the top of the Mestis league in Finland. Two games with sub-900SV% have dropped his overall save-percentage but the big shot-stopper has been a solid piece for IPK this season.
(Note: Isles 4th round pick Alex Jefferies has not played yet. Merrimack College is scheduled to start their 20-21 season on December 19).
Ruslan Iskhakov (TPS)
Season stats: 15GP, 2G, 5A, 7pts
Ruslan Iskhakov is back to getting consistent game time for TPS. He’s also back to playing center after taking a few games on the wing. So things are essentially back to normal for Iskhakov. He has a single point in three games since November 25 so he’s back to getting on the scoreboard as well.
Otto Koivula (HIFK)
Season stats: 13GP, 3G, 8A, 11pts
He’s had an absolutely great time on the production front for HIFK since the middle of October with only three games without a point. He’s playing well down the middle and helping push HIFK up to the top of the Liiga.
Jakub Skarek (Peliitat)
Season stats: 4GP, 4.44GAA, 0.833SV%
Jakub Skarek’s loan spell hasn’t been as strong as he may have liked. But Pelittat was a bottom-tier team before Skarek arrived for his loan spell. What’s important is that he is getting playing time. Whether he is winning or not is a secondary concern.
Simon Holmstrom (Vita Hasten)
Season stats: 11GP, 1G, 1A, 2pts
With Simon Holmstrom ending his loan spell with Vita Hasten, he will now join Team Sweden as they prepare for the World Junior Championship that begins later this month in Edmonton. Team Sweden’s first game is against the Czech Republic on Boxing Day at noon
Oliver Wahlstrom (AIK)
Season stats: 7GP, 3G, 2A, 5pts
Thirteen minutes into his return to action follow a prolonged absence due to injury, Wahlstrom was on the scoresheet with this beauty goal.
After checking in with AIK over the possible end date to Wahlstrom’s loan, they told me he’ll likely be in Sweden until the NHL figures out how they’ll start the 2020-21 season.
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Other prospects playing around the world within the New York Islanders system:
Anatoly Golyshev (Avtomobilist): 26GP, 9G, 12A, 21pts
Robin Salo (Orebro): 18GP, 2G, 7A, 9pts, 23:11 ATOI
Reece Newkirk (Melville Millionaires | SJHL): 12GP, 4G, 8A, 12pts
Christian Krygier (Michigan State | NCAA): 4GP, 1G, 1pt
Jacob Pivonka (Notre Dame | NCAA): 4GP, 0pts