The NY Islanders are in need of speed at the forward position within the makeup of the current roster and the prospect pool, with Mat Barzal and soon-to-be free agent Pierre Engvall being the only players capable of pushing the pace for the team this season. In terms of prospects, Ruslan Iskhakov can get his feet moving, and Matthew Maggio is considered a good skater, but there are no true tempo changers. Selecting a player at No. 49 with wheels is an injection the Isles prospect pool desperately needs.
In a two-round mock draft from The Athletic by Corey Pronman, Scott Wheeler, and Max Bultman, Pronman did the honors of picking for the Islanders, selecting left wing Juraj Pekarcik out of Nitra in Slovakia.
Pekarcik is a raw talent, standing 6'2" and 183 lbs, with outstanding puck skills and speed to burn. Excelling at carrying the puck through the neutral zone, Pekarcik likes to skate the puck into the offensive zone as opposed to playing the dump-and-chase game.
Playing 16 games in the Slovakian U20 league, Pekarcik accumulated 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in 16 games. His impressive play earned him multiple call-ups to the Slovak Extraliga, compiling three assists in 30 games. Though his numbers don't seem impressive, Pekarcik played the entire season at 17 years old and is one of the youngest players in this year's draft, just a few days short of being 2024 eligible.
Following his impressive draft year campaign, Pekarcik was named to Team Slovakia for the U18 World Championship. Pekarcik was impressive throughout Slovakia's run to the Bronze Medal Game, finishing as his team's second-leading scorer registering 10 points (three goals, seven assists), behind only potential top-10 pick Dalibor Dvorsky.
Ranked 41st by NHL Central Scouting (European skaters), Pekarcik is a bit of a risk at No. 49 and will be a development project. Though he looks to have the raw talent to become a top-6 forward in the NHL, the Islanders have proven their inability to properly develop prospects, making a player with a high floor a more likely candidate to become the organization's first pick in the draft.