Islanders prospect report: Prospects at WJC and returning from Europe

New York Islanders right wing Oliver Wahlstrom (26) (Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders right wing Oliver Wahlstrom (26) (Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports)

A few New York Islanders prospects are headed to the World Junior Championship and another is returning from a loan in Sweden.

Things keep on keeping on for New York Islanders prospects but the main focus going forward is the World Junior Championship in Edmonton. The U20 tournament begins on Christmas day and ends on January 5, just in time for the NHL regular season to begin on January 13 (fingers crossed).

The New York Islanders have only two prospects heading to the marquee tournament. The LA Kings for example have nine players going to Edmonton. Just in case you needed a refresher on the quality in the Islanders prospect pool.

So here’s a bit about both Simon Holmstrom and Matias Rajaniemi’s seasons so far, and what to expect from them in Edmonton before the rest of the regular prospect update.

2021 World Junior Championships

Simon Holmstrom (Vita Hasten): 11GP, 1G, 1A, 2pts

The first-round pick from 2019 didn’t have a productive loan spell in Sweden, but at least he got ice time. That’s going to be huge for him going into 2020-21. Remember, this was a kid who was labeled as fragile at the draft. Since being drafted he’s played 57 games before the WJC tournament.

Holmstrom has worn the three crowns before. He’s represented Sweden in 27 games since 2016-17 (and scored 13 points). He picked up six points in seven games at the 2019 U18 World Juniors where Sweden won gold on home soil.

Most of that group is still together at the U20 level. Sweden is also the most experienced squad at the WJC tournament with 45 games of experience.

Holmstrom will certainly sit somewhere in the middle six for Sweden with righties Lucas Raymond and Alexander Holtz likely ahead of him on the RW depth chart.

Matias Rajaniemi (Pelicans): 18GP, 2A, 2pts,13:36ATOI

What Rajaniemi’s role will be with Finland isn’t quite clear just yet. Most of the other blueliners for Team Finland have played in Finland’s top league like Rajaniemi. Kasper Puutio, Topi Niemela, and Mikko Kokkonen have all split their season between the SM-Liiga and the U20 league.

If experience at the top level is key in the decision process, Rajanimei is likely fourth on Finland’s depth chart. We’ll see if that holds when Finland start the tournament.

But with Rajaniemi’s average ice time down to 11:49 in November from 15:01 in October with the Pelicans, he might be lower on the depth chart than number four. Again we’ll see.

Rest of Prospect Pool

Alex Jefferies (LW | Merrimack College)
Season stats: 4GP, 3G, 2A, 5pts

Jefferies is on fire at the moment. The freshman player is tied for seventh in points and points-per-game for the Hockey East conference. When it comes to the freshmen class he’s tied for third in scoring.

This fourth-round pick has begun his collegiate career on fire. All eyes are on him right now.

Collin Adams (University of North Dakota)
Season stats: 7GP, 1G, 4A, 5pts

Adams is on pace for another solid year for a strong University of North Dakota program. Does he get signed by the Islanders at the end of the season? Maybe, but I would expect he’ll have a strong to his senior year for that to happen.

Logan Cockerill (LW | Boston University)
Season stats: N/A

With BU canceling games over the weekend, Cockerill and the Terriers won’t be back on the ice until January at the earliest.

Oliver Wahlstrom (AIK)
Season stats: 10GP, 4G, 4A, 8pts

Oliver Wahlstrom‘s loan spell is over. The Islanders recalled their 2018 first-round pick from Sweden on Monday. He now returns to the US to begin his preparations for the Islanders 20-21 season. We’ll see if he makes the Isles this season, but one thing is clear, getting to train and play over the last few months is going to give him a huge leg up over some of his competition.

Robin Salo (Orebro)
Season stats: 12GP, 2G, 10A, 12pts, 22:43 ATOI

Salo has seen his ice time drop over the last few games. He was routinely putting up 22+ minutes a night and is now down to 18:09 and 18:39 over his last two outings. I don’t think he’ll care too much, his team won both games.

It might also help that he put up a few points in those games. With 12 points on the season, he’s already double his return from last year’s six points in 12 games.

Alexander Ljungkrantz (Brynas)
Season stats:
J20 – 16GP, 8G, 7A, 15pts
SHL – 8GP, 0pts, 3:07ATOI

Ljungkrantz hasn’t been on the ice for a while, Brynas had a ten-day break between December 5 and 15. He’ll certainly stick with the SHL with his J20 outfit out until the New Year.

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Other prospects playing around the world within the New York Islanders system. Note that Finnish teams (in Liiga and Mestis leagues) may not return until the New Year due to a spike of COVID cases in Finland:

Reece Newkirk (Melville Millionaires | SJHL): 12GP, 4G, 8A, 12pts
Henrik Tikkanen (IPK): 9GP, 2.55GAA, 0.901SV%
Ruslan Iskhakov (TPS): 15GP, 2G, 5A, 7pts
Jakub Skarek (Peliitat): 4GP, 4.44GAA, 0.833SV%
William Dufour (Voltigeurs): 8GP, 6G, 4A, 10pts
Otto Koivula (HIFK): 13GP, 3G, 8A, 11pts
Anatoly Golyshev (Avtomobilist): 32GP, 10G, 12A, 22pts
Christian Krygier (D | Michigan State): 6GP, 1G, 1pt
Jacob Pivonka (C | Notre Dame): 8GP, 1G, 2A, 3pts
Ben Mirageas (D | Providence): 3GP, 0pts