As the NY Islanders are without a first-round pick for the fourth season in a row, the scouting department has to dig a bit deeper to find what they hope will become one of the steals of the draft. As 106 NHL prospects tested their physical fitness at the NHL Scouting Combine, players were also available to meet with teams for sit-down interviews.
As many of the top prospects will have already been selected come the Islanders' first pick at No. 49, the scouting department was required to find the players they believe may be available come the middle of the second round. According to Russ Cohen of Sportslogy, Isles scouts sat down with six players - four forwards and two defensemen, which could lead us in the direction the Isles are favoring come June 29th.
Nate Danielson, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Of all the players the Islanders spoke to, Nate Danielson is the greatest reach of them all. Ranked seventh among North American Skaters by Central Scouting, Danielson can play the center position anywhere in the lineup, excelling in all three zones. Capable of filling up a stat sheet, as evident by his 78 points in 68 games this season, Danielson provides just as much value with his active stick in the defensive zone. He's one of the lowest-risk prospects in this year's draft and would only be on the Isles' radar were they to trade into the first round.
Riley Heidt, C/W, Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Another forward projected to go in the first round, Riley Heidt, is one of this year's top playmakers, finishing fourth in WHL scoring, tying for the league lead in assists (72) with Connor Bedard. Heidt can also find the back of the net as he and Koehn Ziemmer were part of one of the WHL's top lines. Ranked 21st among NA skaters by Central Scouting, there's a chance Heidt could slip out of the first round, but the Isles would still likely have to move up if he's one of their coveted choices.
William Whitelaw, C, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
William Whitelaw was one of the USHL's top draft-eligible point producers this season, finishing with 61 points. An undersized center at just 5'9", Whitelaw is constantly in motion all across the ice. An incredibly gifted offensive player, he creates with the puck setting up teammates or burying the puck himself. His offensive skill set is among the best in the draft, but his size keeps him from being a more highly thought-of prospect. Whitlaw is projected to be selected towards the end of the first round into the second.
Charlie Stramel, C/W, (Univ. of Wisconsin)
Playing in his freshman season at the University of Wisconsin, Charlie Stramel struggled, finishing with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 33 games, as other highly ranked first-year players flourished in this high-flying draft class. Stramel is a big-bodied power-forward at 6'3" and 215 lbs, with a fantastic shot. He's not the fastest skater, but his speed isn't a detriment to his play. Ranked 30th by Central Scouting (NA skaters), Stramel has begun to fall down the draft boards and could be in play when the Isles step up to the podium for their first selection.
Maxim Strbak, D, Sioux Falls Stempede (USHL)
Born in Slovakia and playing much of his youth in Finland, Maxim Strbak made the transition to the USHL last year, working his way into consideration to be selected in the top two rounds. A defensive-minded defenseman, Strbak plays a safe game while being decisive in the neutral zone. He's strong on his edges, capable of beating defenders in the transition game or making crisp passes to breaking teammates. Ranked 48th by Central Scouting (NA Skaters), mid-way through the second round is where Strbak will likely hear his name called.
Andrew Strathmann, D, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
Andrew Strathmann could be just what the Islanders are in search of. A smooth-skating, puck-moving defenseman standing at 5'11, Strathmann excels in the offensive end and can contribute to the power play. Not much of a threat to score, as proven by his three goals this season, Strathmann prefers to find his teammates with laser beam passes. Ranked 44th by central Scouting (NA Skaters), Strathmann finished fourth among all USHL defensemen this season with 35 assists, including 17 on the power play.