Islanders: 3 Blue Line Targets at the NHL Draft

2018 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2018 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The 2022 NHL Draft is just over 24 hours away, and for the first time in a long time, the New York Islanders have their first-round draft pick at 13th overall. There has been speculation as to whether or not the Islanders will trade the pick in order to improve their immediate roster, but as of right now Isles GM Lou Lamoriello has a firm grasp on it.

In the latest episode of Nassaumen Hockey Podcast, David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period joined the show to talk about the upcoming draft and the Islanders' offseason plans.

I think there's a willingness to listen. How realistic it is, I honestly don't know if they would ultimately move it. I think it would take something fairly significant in order for them to pull something off. Like bring in a guy who can score and put up points for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, I think Lou and the staff would hold onto that. I wouldn't be surprised if holds onto it. We get to this point in time, craziness happens, you never know I won't discount it, but barring that I think the Isles stick with the 13th pick unless they move up or down in some fashion but I think they draft in the first round.
David Pagnotta

It sounds an awful lot like the Islanders will utilize the pick to make a draft selection rather than trade it. However, to Pagnotta's point, if the right offer comes along Lamoriello will be willing to listen. Assuming that doesn't happen, the 2022 draft class has a plethora of talent despite no clear-cut superstars in the crop of players.

Looking at the Islanders' prospect pool, they need just about everything. Aatu Räty is the current Islander's prized possession and William Dufour has made an argument for himself and after that, it's slim pickings.

If you had to pick an area where the Islanders were lacking most, an argument could be made that the Islanders need to draft a defenseman. With that said, let's take a look at blue line options for the Islanders at 13th overall.

2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game
2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game / Chris Tanouye/GettyImages

Pavel Mintyukov

Mintyukov has been spoken about as a top-five defenseman in the 2022 NHL Draft. His draft rank among defensemen fluctuates between the third and fourth-best defender of the crop.

Concerns for Russian players have lessened according to Corey Pronman of The Athletic:

As we’ve approached the draft I’ve heard less “Russian factor” concerns on Mintyukov, who played all year in North America and didn’t go home to Russia to train this offseason. My current expectation is he will go somewhere in the top 12-13 based on what I’m hearing in the industry.
Corey Pronman

If the Islanders are looking to recoup what they lost in both Devon Toews and Nick Leddy, Mintyukov profiles as a defenseman who can move the puck in a similar fashion with the added factor that he tends to be more of an aggressive puck rusher.

Mintyukov draws comparison to Brandon Montour of the Florida Panthers and projects as a top-four defenseman, something the Islanders might not currently have in their pipeline:

Mintyukov is an exciting defenseman. He plays with pace and is aggressive as a rusher. His skating allows him to evade pressure easily and transition pucks up ice with his feet. Mintyukov is also highly skilled and can make plays through legs and sticks. He shows good offensive IQ, knowing when to activate and how to make plays with the puck. He also has a hard point shot, making him dangerous on the PP with his skating and vision. Defensively he’s solid, showing an ability to use his long reach, mobility and physicality to kill plays. He can be a little too aggressive at times trying to create offense when he leaves his defensive position. He projects as a top-four defenseman with the potential to play high in the lineup. -
Corey Pronman

If he falls to the Islanders at 13, don't be surprised to hear his name at the podium.

Edmonton Oil Kings v Seattle Thunderbirds - Game Three
Edmonton Oil Kings v Seattle Thunderbirds - Game Three / Christopher Mast/GettyImages

Kevin Korchinski

Korchinski was one of the best, if not the best 17-year-old defenseman in the CHL. The Anaheim Ducks are said to be between selecting one of Mintyukov or Korchinski, so whichever one they decide, it's likely the other falls to the Islanders.

Unless someone falls unexpectedly, my best information is Anaheim ends up taking Korchinski or Pavel Mintyukov at this spot, adding a new top defenseman prospect to the organization that just traded away Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson.
Corey Pronman

Korchinski projects as a top-four defenseman and draws a player comparison to Justin Schultz. His skill set is similar to Mintyukov's as well but perhaps lacks attention to detail in his own end of the ice.

Korchinski has a clear NHL toolkit. He’s a 6-foot-2 defenseman who can skate and has offensive abilities. He’s able to carry pucks up ice well with his skating, and has excellent edgework to evade pressure. Korchinski shows touch and vision with the puck to run a power play and create off the blue line due to his skill and feet. Despite his size and skating, he’s mediocre defensively. He doesn’t compete that hard on that side of the ice and is overly aggressive offensively. That’s a concern, but he generates so much offense that it makes up for those issues to an extent. Korchinski projects as a top-four defenseman.
Corey Pronman

If Korchinski falls to 13 instead of Mintyukov, he's another player you shouldn't be surprised to hear called up to the stage.

Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics - Day 11
Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics - Day 11 / RvS.Media/Basile Barbey/GettyImages

Lian Bichsel

See the tallest dude in the picture? That's Bichsel standing at a whopping 6'5" and 216 pounds. He not only plays a big game, but he has some offensive prowess to match. He's already playing amongst men with Leksands SHL team so he's been accustomed to NHL-size players. He played for Switzerland's U18 team and was named one of their best player in the tournament.

Bichsel draws comparisons to K'Andre Miller of the New York Rangers:

Bichsel’s physical tools are quite evident. He’s a 6-foot-5 defenseman who skates well for his size, is physical and has some offensive touch. He can carry and create through the neutral zone due to his feet and skills and shows some creativity from the offensive blue line. He has good hands but there isn’t much playmaking or poise in his puck play. Defensively he’s quite good due to his reach, feet and physicality. He closes gaps like a pro and can be trusted to play hard minutes as he advances levels. Bichsel projects as a top-four defenseman with the potential to play higher in a lineup if the offense translates.
Corey Pronman

Because Bichsel may be able to make the jump to the NHL sooner rather than later, there's a chance the Islanders take him 13th overall.