Ruslan Iskhakov, Bridgeport Islanders, AHL (2018, 2nd round)
Perhaps the most surprising prospect this year for the Islanders has been Moscow native Ruslan Iskhakov. After a stint at UCONN, Iskhakov bounced around Europe before making his professional debut in North America this season.
With not much being discussed about the 22-year-old within the media over the past few seasons, Iskhakov nearly became an afterthought as far as future NHL players go. Since making his debut with the Bridgeport Islanders less than one month ago, Iskhakov has arguably become the team's hottest prospect.
In his first month, Iskhakov was named AHL Rookie of the Month for the month of October. Since then, the smooth skating center has shown no signs of slowing down.
As the calendar changed to November, Iskhakov continued his torrid pace. Adding three more points (three assists), Iskhakov has continued as the leading point scorer amongst rookies in the AHL and is now sitting tied atop the AHL leaderboard, scoring 14 points (four goals, ten assists).
In Bridgeport's three contests last week, Iskhakov tallied all of his points in Saturday's matchup against the Hartford Wolf Pack, with two coming on the power play. His most impressive came from some aggressive forechecking where he swept in on the defenseman carrying the puck, undercutting him, forcing a turnover for a two on zero, and ultimately dishing the puck to Andy Andreoff, who tucked the puck into the gaping net.
In Cory Pronman of The Athletic's NHL Pipeline Rankings, Pronman had Iskhakov in his "has a chance to play category" regarding players' chances of making the NHL. Well, it seems as if Iskhakov is on a mission to prove Pronman wrong and that he has a much better shot at becoming an NHL regular.
""There’s no denying Iskhakov has NHL skill and playmaking ability, and he had a decent year, being a point-per-game player in the DEL. His game lacks pace and compete, though, which is concerning at his size — so he has a long way to go to be an NHL player." "- Cory Pronman
Iskhakov has been one of the main reasons for Bridgeport's red-hot start to the season. The team seemed to be on cruise control until being shut out against the Princeton Bruins, bringing an end to their winning streak.
The team will look to get back to their winning ways Friday and Saturday when they head to Pennsylvania for a back-to-back at the Hershey Bears.