Everyone is keeping tabs on numerous fronts regarding the New York Islanders off-season. Clearly it was a busy weekend. However, the 2021 NHL Draft is later this week and for any team, it’s a critical two days for the long-term health of every organization.
Going to break down some players that have a good chance to be on the board when the New York Islanders make their first pick of the 2021 NHL Draft. The Islanders’ first pick will be at the end of Round 2 with the 52nd selection (51st player taken because Arizona has to forfeit their 1st Round pick). This pick was acquired by the Isles this weekend from the Red Wings in the Nick Leddy deal.
The Isles pipeline could use an infusion of young talent at the forward position. But like any Draft, one would be wise to always take the best player on the board.
Keep in mind that many recent Drafts, players have unexpectedly risen and fallen come Draft Day. Given that scouting this Draft during the pandemic has had so many issues, expect to see more risers and fallers in this year’s NHL Draft.
Research for this article dove into The Hockey News, The Athletic, and Russ Cohen’s site Sportsology. Let’s look at the forwards.
Jackson Blake – RW, 5’10, 158 lbs
There is Islander DNA in this kid as his dad is former Islander Jason Blake. Blake is creative offensively, has strong puck skills, and brings a hard work ethic. But his skating needs to get better and he is very undersized.
Dylan Duke – C, 5’10, 181 lbs
This kid despite being undersized and skating being an issue finds the score sheet. Good hands and vision, strong stick, and per The Hockey News “a dog on a bone, type of player”. Dylan screams intangibles.
Oliver Kapanen – C, 6’1, 179 lbs
Kapanen has skill, a strong compete level, which is a very good combination. He is a two-way player that is smart on both sides of the puck. That sounds like a Lou Lamoriello – Barry Trotz type of player.
Samuel Helenius – C, 6’6, 201 lbs
Huge big body forward that has a good chance to be an excellent bottom-six defensive type of forward.
Ryan Ufko – 5’10, 181 lbs
Ufko is a local boy from Smithtown, Long Island. The negatives are he is undersized and not a top skater. However, Ufko is smart, patient, poised, and is a hard worker. Have to take the best player on the board but it would be exciting if the Isles drafted him.
Ty Gallagher – 6’0, 190 lbs
Last few years yours truly has corresponded with Russ Cohen of Sportsology. When it comes to prospects, Russ is a must-read. Every Draft, Russ has a guy who will be taken in the second round that he is very high and thinks he has a good chance to be a player (with a capital P) in the NHL. A few years ago his guy was Samuel Girard. Recently it was New York native Johnny Beecher who The Hockey News has as one of its Top 100 Prospects (Bruins Prospect #71 Overall) in the 2021 Future Watch issue.
This year’s pick from Russ is defenseman Ty Gallagher. Gallagher has offensive instincts, has a hard shot, and is a power-play threat. Some scouting reports point out he has to work on his skating but he is a smart player with a lot of upside.
Late Round Gem
Finally, look at for another former Islander son come Day 2 of the Draft. Scott Lachance kid, Shane is a 6’4, 193 lbs winger who is a raw talent but could wind up being a hidden gem. He is slated to go towards the end of the Draft. If you remember Isles took a big raw talented winger back in the 6th round of the 2009 Draft and his name was Anders Lee.
The Islanders have a lot of balls in the air between signing their own guys, expansion, free agency, and possible trades. But don’t lose sight on how important the Draft is for the blue and orange.