The 2023 NHL Draft is later this month, and in what has become a tradition, the New York Islanders do not have a first-round pick. Having traded their first-rounder (17th overall) to Vancouver during the season (the pick now belongs to Detroit), the Isles won't be on the clock until pick No. 49 on June 29th at the draft in Nashville.
The fewer high draft picks you have, the more essential it is for a team to make the most of their selections after the first 32 players are taken off the board. Under GM Lou Lamoriello, the performance of their second-round picks has been a mixed bag, with some already making the NHL while others appear on their way out of the organization.
Last June, defenseman Calle Odelius was taken with the 65th pick. He'll be playing in Sweden next year after scoring 11 points (one goal, ten assists) in 43 games with Djurgårdens, It's still way too early to tell if the 19-year-old he'll grow into an NHL defenseman. Playing in the Sweden league's second tier is probably best for his development next season.
Two drafts ago, Aatu Raty, a former projected No. 1 overall pick, slid to them at No. 52. Raty found his game and a way to the NHL last season, showing enough potential to be included in the package to the Vancouver Canucks for Bo Horvat. Raty projects as a top-9 center with upside. After scoring two goals with the Isles in 12 games, he has two goals and 10 assists for the Abbotsford Canucks and was called up to the NHL for 3 games with Vancouver, registering an assist.
2019 second-round pick (57th overall) Samuel Bolduc made the NHL this season after a rebound season in the AHL with Bridgeport. After giving opportunities to Parker Wotherspoon, Grant Hutton, and even Dennis Cholowski, Bolduc appeared in 17 regular season games and demonstrated he had the tools to stick in the NHL, but not without growing pains.
In the regular season finale, he was benched after allowing Nick Suzuki to score a short-handed goal and then struggled in Games 1 and 2 versus the Carolina Hurricanes. After being called for a double-minor in Game 2, he didn't see the ice again in the series as Alexander Romanov returned for Game 3. Depending what happens with Scott Mayfield in free agency and whether the Isles can bring in another defenseman, Bolduc could have a role on the team at the start of the 2023-24 season.
In 2018, Lamoriello was only months into his new role and was drafting off of the recommendations and insights of Garth Snow's scouting department. After taking Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson in the first round, the Isles had two second-round picks, taking D Bode Wilde 41st overall and then flashy forward Ruslan Iskhakov two picks later at No. 43.
The 22-year-old Ishakov was an All-Star this past season with Bridgeport as an AHL rookie, showing off his unique offensive skillset during the skills competition and throughout the regular season. His ability in shootouts alone could make him an asset to the Isles at some point, given the team's trouble earning the second point in recent seasons. He finished the year with 17 goals and 34 assists in 69 games and is back on the organization's radar as a player that can contribute at the NHL level despite his diminutive size and stature.
Wilde had been projected by many to be drafted in the middle of the first round and had a standout season with 70 points (19 goals, 51 assists) in just 62 games for Saginaw Spirit of the OHL the following year. However, it's been a slow but steady decline for Wilde since. Injuries and a shortened 2019-20 season hurt his progress, and then his relationship with the organization took a hit when he refused to be vaccinated and was loaned to Västerviks IK of the Swedish HockeyAllsvenskan.
Last year, he had just a 14-point season with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL. He's set to be an RFA on July 1st and needs to receive a $787,500 qualifying offer by the June 30 deadline.