The NY Islanders prospect pool continues to make noise, coming from one prospect in particular. Alex Jefferies was just named a 2022-23 NCAA Hockey East first-team all-star on Friday, and on the following Monday, he's added another notch to his belt. The Merrimack College forward was named one of three finalists in the running for NCAA Hockey East's Player of the Year. Merrimack head coach Scott Borek is also a finalist for the league’s Coach of the Year award.
In preseason predicitions, Merrimack was projected to finish eighth in Hockey East, however, in part to Jefferies stellar season, Merrimack propelled up the standings and finished second. The former 2020 Islanders fourth-round draft pick collected 30 points this season (13 goals and 17 assists), tying Boston University's Matt Brown for second in the conference.
Merrimack will now take part in an NCAA 16-team tournament and the four regional winners will take part in the Frozen Four on April 6th and 8th in Tampa, Fla. Projected to rank 14th in the tournament, Merrimack is could line up to play the University of Denver in the opening round of the tournament.
According to The Athletic, Jefferies is ranked as the Islanders' ninth overall prospect. That was with Aatu Räty in the system, so by default, Jefferies moves up to eighth overall after Räty was traded to Vancouver. The 21-year-old forward has a chance to climb the ranks over the Islanders' prospect pool, much like how William Dufour did following his historic 2021-22 season. Jefferies isn't quite having as big of a season as Dufour did last season, so his rise wouldn't be as dramatic if he moves up at all, but the fact remains that the Islanders continue to hit on prospects following the first round of the draft, and some of the prospects have even seen NHL ice recently such as Samuel Bolduc or Arnaud Durandeau. We'll see how Jefferies' game translates at the pro level as he's likely to sign his first pro contract following the conclusion of his this season or he's eligible to re-enter the NHL Draft.
Jefferies is a finalist alongside BU defenseman and Montreal Canadiens prospect Lane Hutson and Northeastern goaltender and Buffalo Sabres prospect Devon Levi.