On Monday, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler posted his top 50 NHL prospects (subscription required). It’s an annual list documenting the next crop of future NHL stars and top-end players. The New York Islanders didn’t have a single player on the list. Not one. Not even in the extra 14 names listed as honorable mentions.
I’ve seen some Islanders fans express concern over this. And I can’t say this loud enough, but if you’re worried that the Isles don’t have a top 50 prospect, don’t be. This isn’t where the Isles are in their cycle.
Don’t worry about the New York Islanders not having a top 50 prospect
Remember, NHL teams work in cycles. They start from scratch (usually by drafting a top-end pick) and hope to build towards a team that is competing for cups. The Islanders are in the “competing for cups” portion of their cycle. And if you don’t believe that’s where they are here are a few facts. Since 2018-19:
- The Islanders are ninth in regular-season wins with 115 wins.
- They’re tenth in points with 254 over the same period.
- Lou’s team ranks second in playoff wins with 28.
When teams are at this stage of their cycle they’re typically selling off future assets (like high draft picks) for current assets to help them get a Cup. There’s no guarantee this works, but this is what teams do. They all do it and have done so for about as long as this game has existed.
There’s no reason to think the Islanders would have a player that would make this list. Consider the list doesn’t include what Wheeler deems NHL regulars. There’s no firm line on what that is, but you better believe that Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom are considered “NHL regulars” in Wheeler’s mind. So they aren’t even considered here. They aren’t prospects anymore.
Oh, and he also doesn’t look at any player who’s 23 or older. So that takes Ilya Sorokin out of the mix.
So who do Islanders fans think would make Wheeler’s list? Samuel Bolduc or Robin Salo? Sure, both might be at the top of the Islanders prospect pool, but there’s no way they fit in the top 50 in the league. And I’m quite high on both prospects. (I also know that Wheeler is a big fan of Robin Salo’s game as well).
Again, Islanders should not care one bit that they don’t have a top 50 prospect.