This is the first New York Islanders prospect report of 2021. This week the focus is on the prospects who were invited to the Islanders 2021 training camp.
The New York Islanders 2021 training camp has opened up for the season and while most of the talk will center around Mathew Barzal (and rightfully so) ample attention needs to go to some of the prospects on the squad.
With issues with the salary cap and with the gaps on the third line, a prospect on a cheap entry-level contract could very well find his way onto the 2021 opening day roster. So this week, I wanted to focus on the prospects at training camp.
(I had a request to add height and weight for players so I’ve added it for this week’s update.)
2021 Training Camp
Oliver Wahlstrom (AIK) – 6’2″ 205lbs
Season stats: 10GP, 4G, 4A, 8pts
The spot on the right of the third-line seems like it’s Oliver Wahlstrom‘s to lose. The Islanders didn’t want their eleventh overall pick in 2018 to sit around this offseason so they sent him out on loan to Allsvenskan side AIK.
There, Wahlstrom impressed with his offensive abilities. His defensive play still needs improvements but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made enough strides away from the puck to earn a spot on the team in 2021.
Barry will certainly be watching closely in 2021. But if day-one of on-ice play was any indication maybe Walstrom won’t have to worry.
Otto Koivula (HIFK) – 6’5″ 223lbs
Season stats: 13GP, 3G, 8A, 11pts
He’s got size, hands, versatility, and is trusted in the D-zone. Otto Koivula has everything Barry Trotz could be looking for in a prospect. I could easily see Koivula make the opening day squad for the Islanders.
Simon Holmstrom (Vita Hasten) – 6’1″ 200lbs
Season Stats: 11GP, 1G, 1A, 2pts
When I spoke to ESPN’s Chris Peters about Simon Holmstrom, he indicated to me that while Holmstrom is a talented player, he’s still got some development to make. Just because he’s at camp doesn’t mean we should expect him to have a chance at making the team.
This is just a continuation of his development by the Islanders.
Kieffer Bellows (BPT) – 6’0″ 195lbs
Season stats (19-20): 52GP, 22G, 9A, 31pts
The PED infraction isn’t great, but he’s served his time and should have a “clean slate” going into camp. Unlike Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows put up points including a two-goal night in his second career NHL game. We might just be underestimating Bellows’ chances at making the opening night roster.
What’s working against him is the fact that he’s the only forward prospect at camp that hasn’t played since the shutdown.
Sebastian Aho (BPT) – 5’10” 184lbs
Season stats (19-20): 49GP, 3G, 27A, 30Pts
With the AHL season not scheduled to start until February 5, there’s no reason Aho doesn’t make the taxi squad. Unless he’s totally outplayed by a few other players on the camp roster.
Samuel Bolduc (QMJHL) – 6’4″ 213lbs
Season stats (19-20): 61GP, 11G, 43A, 54Pts
The Islanders like this kid a lot. When they got to take a look at him during the 2019 training camp they liked what they saw. Signing his ELC this summer, there’s no reason to expect him to make the NHL this year.
Bode Wilde (OHL) – 6’3″ 195lbs
Season stats: 11GP, 4G, 7A, 11pts
The 2019-20 season was a tough one for the Islanders 2018 second-round pick. First, an injury right at the start of the season forces him to miss the Isles training camp and the BPT. He was then sent to the OHL to get game time and only got eleven games in before the season was stopped due to the pandemic.
This should be a big year for Wilde who will play for Bridgeport but won’t make the Islanders opening night roster.
Grant Hutton (BPT) – 6’3″ 205lbs
Season stats (19-20): 55GP, 6G, 15A, 21Pts
Just like Samuel Bolduc, the Islanders really like what Grant Hutton has to offer. In his first pro-season, the right-hander put up a solid 21 points and played good minutes for Bridgeport.
He won’t make the squad but he could very well make the taxi squad until Bridgeport’s season begins.
Parker Wotherspoon (BPT) – 6’1″ 181lbs
Season stats (19-20): 62GP, 4G, 23A, 27Pts
Numbers. Wotherspoon is here to make up numbers. Don’t get me wrong. He had a really good 19-20 season for Brirdfports and he deserves some recognition for it. But he’s not going to make the Islanders roster and won’t make the taxi squad.
Jakub Skarek (Peliitat) – 6’3″ 202lbs
Seaon stats: 4GP, 4.44GAA, 0.833SV%
His 20-21 stats in Finland weren’t very good, but Peliitat were the worst team in the Mestis division. With Cory Schneider signed Skarek moves down the goaltending depth chart. He’ll get plenty of starts in Bridgeport this year rather than bouncing between the AHL and ECHL like he did in 19-20.
Rest of Prospect Pool
Matias Rajaniemi (Pelicans) – 6’4″ 205lbs
Season stats:18GP, 2A, 2pts,13:36ATOI
Rajaniemi’s will play for the bronze medal with Team Finland at the World Junior Championships today. By “will play” I should say ‘dress’. Rajaniemi is a seventh defenseman for the Finns and has only registered 2:04 of ice-time over the last six periods.
In the quarterfinals against Sweden defensive coach Ville Mantymaa told me that he decided to shorten his bench so to speak and ran with his three defensive pairs rather than try to mix in Rajaniemi and break any sort of rhythm.
He’ll likely be back with the Finns in 2022 with a larger role. He’s young (he turned 18 in September) and still plays against men when he’s back home in Finland. There’s still a lot of upside to this sixth-round pick.
Robin Salo (Orebro) – 6’1″ 187lbs
Season stats: 26GP, 3G, 13A, 16pts, 22:24 ATOI
After representing Finland at the Channel One Cup in Moscow over the holidays, Kimmo Timonen (a revered figure in Finland) spoke about how Salo and defensive partner Tony Sund are the modern defensive pair.
His contract comes to an end this season with Orebro so it’s possible that after the SHL playoffs he could be signed to some sort of contract in the Islanders organization (assuming Orebro makes the playoffs).
Alexander Ljungkrantz (Brynas) – 6’1″ 185lbs
J20 – 16GP, 8G, 7A, 15pts
SHL – 9GP, 0pts, 3:07ATOI
With the J20 season still on pause, Brynas confirmed to me on Monday that Alexander Ljungkrantz has been sent out on loan to Div 1 sid Stromsbro IF. Now, that may sound like a demotion but it isn’t. Ljungkrantz will now play regularly – likely in a top-six role – and against men. That’s a step up for him.
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Here’s the rest of the prospect pool for the Islanders:
Reece Newkirk 5’11” 181lbs (Melville Millionaires | SJHL): 12GP, 4G, 8A, 12pts
Henrik Tikkanen 6’8″ 201lbs (IPK): 9GP, 2.55GAA, 0.901SV%
Ruslan Iskhakov 5’8″ 152lbs (TPS): 17GP, 2G, 6A, 8pts
William Dufour 6’3″ 201lbs (Voltigeurs): 8GP, 6G, 4A, 10pts
Anatoly Golyshev 5’8″ 187lbs (Avtomobilist): 35GP, 10G, 13A, 23pts
Christian Krygier (D | Michigan State): 10GP, 1G, 1pt
Jacob Pivonka (C | Notre Dame): 10GP, 1G, 2A, 3pts
Ben Mirageas (D | Providence): 8GP, 1A, 1pt
Alex Jefferies (LW | Merrimack College): 4GP, 3G, 2A, 5pts
Collin Adams (University of North Dakota): 10GP, 4G, 5A, 9pts
Logan Cockerill (LW | Boston University): N/A