NY Islanders prospects: 3 International players having great seasons

These 3 international draft picks will garner our attention next pre-season.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Jeff Vinnick/GettyImages
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The NY Islanders have had success drafting players from both North America and Europe. As with the other sports leagues, the NHL has broadened its scope to include players mostly from Finland, Russia, Slovakia, and Sweden. In recent years, the Islanders have selected Ilya Sorokin from Russia along with Sebastian Aho and Simon Holmstrom from Sweden. Suffice it to say, the scouting department has done well with their international evaluations of such young players.

The benefit of selecting players from Canada and Europe is their expedited path to the AHL. Most United States-born players attend a 4-year college before signing their entry-level contracts. This has been the case with Anders Lee and Scott Mayfield, not debuting in the AHL until ages 21 and 22. However, players from Canada like Noah Dobson played for Bridgeport and age 19, which is ideal in a salary-cap league. As the Islanders continue to struggle with an aging roster in 2023-24, which players drafted internationally have impressed the organization this season?

1. Isaiah George

The Toronto metropolitan area has handed the Islanders great talent throughout their history. From Oakville, Ontario, left-handed defenseman Isaiah George has developed into the organization's most notable prospect in 2023-24. Selected in the 4th round of the 2022 draft, George has displayed a defensive mindset that enhances his ability to read, react, and join the rush at ease. A physical player, George makes it difficult for opposing forwards to crowd the net and create open scoring opportunities. Though his physicality has put him in the penalty box quite often, the Islanders are confident George will outgrow these mistakes as he advances through the amateur level.

After spending 2 seasons with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, George signed an entry-level contract with the Islanders and participated in pre-season action. Lane Lambert's impression of George was "He's confident, even from rookie camp. He passes the puck hard. He's young, but he doesn't necessarily play to his age. He seems to be pretty seasoned". George also earned accolades from veteran players like Ryan Pulock, as he described the defenseman as "Looks solid. I think he's got good poise, offensively and defensively".

While George did not make the opening night roster, he returned to OHL action and has posted impressive numbers. In 46 games, he has 5 goals and 7 assists. George may not be an offensive-minded defenseman, but the Islanders are in desperate need of another hard forechecker in protection of Sorokin. George has expressed modeling his game after Adam Pelech for the way he clears the zone and creates turnovers. If he can become Pelech, the Islanders will have found a steal in the 4th-round.