Believe it or not, the NY Islanders have a star-studded weekend ahead of them in terms of All-Star appearances. The varsity squad has Brock Nelson and Ilya Sorokin, as well as the newly acquired Bo Horvat representing the Islanders in Sunrise, Florida. And on Wednesday, we learned Samuel Bolduc won't be the only Islanders prospect heading to Laval, Quebec this weekend to represent the Bridgeport Islanders at the AHL All-Star game. Ruslan Iskhakov was named as the B-Isles' second representative and will play for the Atlantic Division team.
Iskhakov, 22, has nine goals and 22 assists through 40 games this season, tied for third among all AHL rookies in scoring (31 points). He shares second place among rookies in assists. Iskhakov was named the AHL's rookie of the month in the month of October after recording four goals and seven assists in seven games.
The Islanders drafted Iskhakov in the second round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, No.43 overall. Following his draft year, Iskhakov played two seasons for the University of Connecticut before heading overseas to play at the professional level in Finland and Germany. Following success at each of the previously named destinations, Iskhakov signed a two-year, $1.71 million entry-level contract in May with the Islanders.
Back in November, The Athletic's Cory Pronman ranked Iskhakov in the "has a chance a play category" recognizing his offensive ability, but was concerned about his lack of size to compete at the NHL. "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," said Pronman. 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."
Perhaps that perspective has changed, however. The AHL is known as the second-best professional hockey league for a reason and Iskhakov is clearly succeeding. It's also a league that contains men just as big as those in the NHL today. Iskhakov's All-Star nomination alludes to the fact that he's figured out how to be successful at yet another level, and the NHL could be next.