2023 NHL Mock Draft: Breaking down five possible NY Islanders picks

2023 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game
2023 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game / Dennis Pajot/GettyImages
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We're less than one week from hearing Connor Bedard's name announced as the number one overall selection at the 2023 NHL Draft, 48 picks before learning who the newest member of the NY Islanders will be.

With all the pre-draft festivities and hoopla that go with the event, no-nonsense Lou Lamoriello and his staff will be strictly business, putting the final touches on their pre-draft big board. As players begin arriving in Nashville, organizations will have an opportunity to speak with prospects one last time before round one on Wednesday. Whoever the Islanders ultimately select at No. 49 will be based on how the selections ahead of them play out.

In the past two seasons, the Isles selected what many called a "steal" in the second round. Once considered the 2021 top prospect, Aatu Räty fell to the Isles at No. 52, and last year, potential first-rounder Calle Odelius dropped to the final pick of round two.

As the silly season continues and we try to predict who Lamoriello hopes to add to the organization, we break down a seven-round mock draft by Corey Pronman of The Athletic. With only five picks throughout the draft, as things currently stand, the Isles are hoping to find a game-breaker who can make an impact at some point down the road.

2nd Round (49)

Riley Heidt, C, Prince George Cougars (WHL)

Regarded as one of the top playmakers in the entire draft, Riley Heidt is an offensive dynamo capable of putting up staggering numbers. Finishing the WHL season with 72 assists, Heidt tied for the WHL lead with Bedard.

Heidt has a wow factor to his game, willing to attempt the unthinkable at any given moment. At this year's CHL Top Prospects Game, Heidt attempted a Michigan-style goal, barely missing a highlight reel goal. Heidt assisted on Team Red's only goal and was named his team's Top Player of the Game, adding five shots on goal.

Heidt is a high-end puck handler with incredible hockey sense. He believes he can succeed at anything he attempts on the ice, almost to a fault. He's a risk taker, sometimes forcing plays that aren't necessarily there, leading to opportunities in the other direction.

Last week at the NHL combine, Islanders scouts sat down with Central Scouting's (NA skaters) 21st-ranked skater, so there is for sure interest on the Isles' end, but there's a chance Heidt will be scooped up before Lamoriello makes his way to the podium.

4th Round (113)

Gabriel Szturc, C, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Following the trend of recent overage selections by the Islanders in the middle rounds, Gabriel Szturc is a 19-year-old out of Czechia, now playing major junior in Canada. Going undrafted in 2022 following a down season where he only totaled 41 points (16 goals, 25 points) with the Kelowna Rockets, Szturc returned this year with a bounce-back season, improving all aspects of his game.

In his second season in Kelowna, Szturc put up solid numbers, finishing with 79 points (24 goals, 55 assists) in 56 games. He was a member of Czechia's WJC team, finishing as his nation's second-leading scorer with eight points.

Szturc is proficient in all three zones, limiting his mistakes and positioning himself in advantageous positions to succeed. At 5'11", he works well with the puck on his stick in tight spaces but lacks that one superb quality. He is an average skater at best, has a good shot, and plays with a strong complete level. Nothing he does will blow you away, but he plays the game right. He projects as a bottom-six forward but looks to have what it takes to make it to the NHL.

Considered a bit of a reach in the fourth round, Szturc is ranked No. 220 by Central Scouting (NA skaters) but would be well worth the risk if Isles' scouts believe he is their guy.

5th Round (145)

Nikita Susuyev, RW, Spartak Jr. (Russia-Jr.)

Without a first-round pick, the Isles could excel in the later rounds with some patience, beginning with Nikita Susuyev. With Russian players likely to fall further than they ought to, Susuyev is talented enough to hear his name called in the top three rounds, but in this instance falls to the Isles in the fifth. Registering 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in the Russian junior league, Susuyev's game remains a work in progress. At 6'0", Susuyev is a high-end skater, capable of controlling the pace of place when the puck is on his tape. Still a work in progress, Susuyev has the potential to become one of the better players in this draft who are selected in the later rounds.

6th Round (177)

Kristian Kostadinski, D, Frolunda Jr. (Sweden-Jr.)

A defenseman with some serious size, Kristian Kostadinski is an imposing presence along the blue line. Willing to engage physically at any given moment, Kostadinski is capable of knocking even the strong players off the puck using his 6'5", 214 lbs frame. A formidable penalty killer, his defensive prowess is well ahead of his offensive game. This season in the Swedish J20, Kostadinski finished with just two goals and eight assists in 43 games.

7th Round (209)

Nikita Ishimnikov, D, Yekaterinburg (Russia-Jr.)

Another defenseman with some size to his name, Nikita Ishminikov, prefers a more offensive style of play. At 6'3", he skates well for his size looking to snap off shots from the blue line without hesitation. Ishminikov scored 11 goals while adding seven helpers this season in the MHL, needing to work on his puck-moving ability before taking his game to the next level. Though he's shown some offensive prowess, he's still an extremely raw talent and will need plenty of seasoning.