Predicting the Pick: NY Islanders will take a hard-hitting blueliner in the NHL Draft

The NY Islanders just need a game-changing player in their prospect pool, and one such player may not be a high-scoring forward or even a forward at all.


Hard-hitting skaters are something you expect from the NY Islanders, and that should be the case for as long as Lou Lamoriello decides to be the organization’s general manager. So whether it was designing a seven-round mock draft simulation or predicting who each team would take in a mock draft I conducted manually via FC Hockey’s mock draft builder, I knew the Isles would roll with a hard hitter. 

But the preferred player, and the one I landed in the simulation for Mock Draft 2.0, Igor Chernyshov, wasn’t available at No. 20 overall. Instead, Chernyshov went No. 17 to the Washington Capitals, but there was a defenseman who looked like an excellent fit for the system still on the board - Stian Solberg.  

He’s a player who already displays ideal size and length and one who can provide a boost for the Isles penalty kill when he’s deemed ready for the NHL, something that won’t occur any time soon. But as bad as the Isles penalty kill was this past season, it calls for Lamoriello not only to make changes to the unit immediately but also to have a forward-thinking mindset to keep the PK unit consistent, and those future plans would involve someone like Solberg. 

Predicting a hard-hitting blueliner lands with NY Islanders in NHL Draft

Someone like Stian Solberg would immediately bring some interest to the prospect pool, but he may not contribute a ton of value in the offensive zone. Not that there isn’t potential, as Solberg’s a great skater who can use his large frame to his advantage both with and without the puck, and opponents can forget about putting pressure on him if the puck is on his stick. 

Overall, Solberg epitomizes what you would think about when you’re looking for the ideal prospect in the 2024 NHL Draft, unless Igor Chernyshov or Beckett Sennecke is available. There are others, but as far as my own projections go, Solberg was there for the taking, and knowing his playing style, Lou Lamoriello wouldn’t waste much time before adding the blueliner to the organization. 

The Isles averaged over 25 hits a game last season, and it’s a trend that, even with some potential turnover at the fourth line, should continue. Adding a player like Solberg to the organization further helps to ensure the identity sticks around toward the end of the decade when he’s ready to take NHL ice.