With no first or second-round pick at the 2020 NHL draft, the New York Islanders were going to have to pull quality out of the later rounds of the Entry Draft. That's obviously easier said than done.
Late-round picks aren't guaranteed to turn into anything. That's why they fall so late in the draft. Of course, they have talent, but that talent isn't always projected to hit the NHL. And yes it's still too early to tell if any of those picks made from rounds three through seven in 2020 will become NHL talent for the Isles, but one of those players is having one heck of a year so far.
New York Islanders prospect on pace for historic year
That's fifth-round pick, William Dufour. Selected with the 152nd overall pick, Dufour is a big winger with a heck of a shot. So far in 2021-22, Dufour has 18 goals and 18 helpers in 22 games. Let me repeat that in another way. He's scoring 0.81 goals per game and scoring 0.81 assists per game.
At this rate, assuming he plays a full 68 games, Dufour is on pace to hit 56 goals and 111 points. A return that could make him the highest single-season goal scorer and point-scorer in Sea Dog history.
As Jamie Tozer indicated recently, the most goals in a single Sea Dog season is 47. Danick Gauthier did that ten years ago. The most points in a single Sea Dog season is 105. That was done by Jonathan Huberdeau back in 2010-11. Dufour is on pace to blow right past both of those Sea Dog records.
There's still a long way to go for Dufour to hit that, but with a current ten game point streak where he's scored eight goals and ten assists in that span, he's not slowing down anytime soon.
So what's the ceiling? I still think it's bottom-six for now. The QMJHL isn't particularly strong so these numbers, as it relates to NHL potential, have to be taken with a grain of salt.
That doesn't mean there is no way Dufour won't ever push past that ceiling. The potential is there for him to be more than a bottom-six forward at the NHL level. But I think the takeaway here isn't what his ceiling will be at the NHL level but that his NHL trajectory isn't necessarily questioned like the rest of the 2020 fifth round (or later) is.
I think he'll make the NHL in some capacity. Finding that in the fifth round is a big win for the Islanders.