The NY Islanders should take a chance on the unicorn of the 2024 NHL Draft

Dean Letourneau scores a beauty for St. Andrew's in a 4-2 victory
Dean Letourneau scores a beauty for St. Andrew's in a 4-2 victory / 519 Sports Online

It seems like every season the size of the average NHLer is growing. First, it was defensemen, with former NY Islanders draft pick Zdeno Chara shocking everyone with his size, then goaltenders, and now forwards.

Tage Thompson is the first name that comes to mind when thinking of massive forwards, standing at 6'6" and 220 lbs. At the 2024 NHL Draft, one team will get their hand on another tremendous forward, who's being touted as the unicorn of the draft.

Dean Letourneau is a name that has been flying up the draft rankings over the last few months - now projected to be a first-round pick. He's 6'7" and 209 lbs, taking a less-traveled path to draft night.

Playing Prep hockey at St. Andrews College, Letourneau tore the league up, scoring 61 goals and 66 assists in 56 games.

Using all of his 6'7" frame, Letourneau punishes opponents with his bone-crushing checks. When getting in on the forecheck, he's capable of dislodging the puck with the slightest of contact.

Perhaps most impressive are his ability to handle the puck like a player of a much smaller size.

"He's 6'7" and has a 7' wingspan," said Cam Robinson of Elite Prospects on The Red Line Podcast. "He handles the puck like he's Mitch Marner - like he's a little guy. He's very very interesting."

Then there is his shooting. Averaging more than a goal per game is impressive regardless of the league, but Letourneau has proven he can consistently fill the net from the perimeter or driving the net.

What's scaring scouts off about Letourneau is simply the competition he played against. This isn't the CHL, NCAA, or even overseas junior leagues - Prep hockey is a must lower level. He played two games at the USHL level this past season with the Sioux Falls Stampede, failing to register a point before getting injured. It was a small sample size, but scouts are worried that he was too overpowering for the competition he faced.

Committed to playing his college hockey at Boston College, Letourneau will likely spend next season with Sioux Falls before heading to BC for the 2025-26 season.

When and if the Islanders make their selection at 20th overall, they should be taking who they believe to be the best player available regardless of position. With the league's worst prospect pool, this pick will essentially become the Islanders' top prospect. If Lou Lamoriello decides to take Letourneau, he'll be a project, still a few years away from being NHL-ready. Players of Letourneau's size typically take longer to develop, with Tage Thompson as a prime example.

If Letourneau develops into the player he's expected to be, he can become a unique weapon for the Islanders that few teams have. In the next few weeks, the Islanders will have to decide whether they are looking for a safe pick or are willing to swing for the fences.