When the NY Islanders drafted Isaiah George in the fourth round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, 98th overall, the consensus was that the Isles got a steal at the mid to late portion of the draft. George's profile reads as an elite skating defenseman who has excellent puck-carrying abilities and he can contribute on both ends of the ice, offensively and defensively. In fact, George's first rookie camp with the Islanders turned quite a few heads and left a good impression on the brass that drafted him just a few months prior. That was until George suffered an injury and had to watch from the standings. His injury carried over into his Ontario Hockey League season with the London Knights where he missed 13 games. Following a return from his injury, how did the Islanders prospect perform?
It took some time, but George found his footing on the ice again and was relied on as one of London's top defenseman. In the 2021-22 season, George totaled six goals and 17 assists for 23 points in 67 games. He was able to replicate similar numbers scoring seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points in 13 fewer contests. It's a positive sign that George, despite the injury, was able to develop and mature his offensive prowess.
Offense aside, George's almost 200-pound frame is among some of the biggest in the OHL and because he has the size, George was also relied on to play a shutdown style of hockey against some of his opponents best players. George finished the season as a plus-23, playing an elevated role with big minutes against some of the OHL's best such as Brennan Othmann and Ty Nelson.
In the playoffs, the Knights went all the way to the OHL Final. They lost the championship to the Peterborough Petes in six games. George didn't find the scoresheet too much registering just three assists in 20 playoff games, however, his role on the blueline was to play more of that shutdown defense in big minutes he had been called on for in the regular season with Logan Mailloux's offensive ability present among London's defenders.
The consensus regarding George's season is that he played well enough that Lou Lamoriello could be calling to sign the 19-year-old to his first professional contract. Regardless, his February birthday means that at 19 years old, he'll return to London to play another season in the OHL. After bowing out in the OHL Final and at a shot to play in the Memorial Cup, George and the Knights will look to return to the final next season and claim a spot in the Memorial Cup Tournament.