The 2021-22 season isn't yet over for the New York Islanders but that doesn't mean we can't look forward to next season. With that in mind, what prospects should we be excited for in 2022-23?
I've got three prospects that I'm hyped for when it comes to next season, mainly to see how they adapt to the next step in their hockey careers.
New York Islanders prospects to get excited for in 2022
Aatu Räty leads the prospect pool. The second-round pick from 2021 had a wildly impressive season in Finland. The young center finished in the top 20 for scoring in the Finnish league and lead the line offensively for Jukurit who finished second in the regular season.
He's already made his debut in the AHL. He's played two games and showed us some of his high-end skills already. He's still got things to learn but this kid is an absolute student of the game. His Jukurit coach, former Islanders player Olli Jokinen, spoke specifically about how Räty always came to the rink ready to learn.
Räty may have fallen far at the 2021 draft, but he was once considered a possible no.1 pick for a reason. He's got a ton of talent. And at 19-years-old he's already ready to play a North American game. The 2022 season could very well show us he's much closer to the NHL than we think.
The season isn't yet over for William Dufour, a 2020 5th-round pick, but it's already been incredibly impressive. Through 63 games on the year, Dufour has an incredible 53 goals and 112 points. He leads the Quebec league in goals and points.
The Saint John Sea Dogs will make the QMJHL playoffs where they're expected to challenge for a championship. They'll also host the memorial cup where they could pick up the CHL's top trophy.
Dufour signed his ELC with the Islanders and will make the jump to the AHL next season. What we end up getting from him in the pros isn't too clear yet. But we know that Dufour has a hell of a shot and he's got size (6'3" 204lbs). He's still got to work on his skating and his D-game, but both can be fixed.
In the 2022-23 season, we'll get our first glimpse of a player who can't stop scoring in the QMJHL and see if the Isles truly got the steal at the 2020 draft.
There was a lot of confusion at the 2019 NHL draft when the Isles selected Simon Holmstrom with the 24th overall pick. Holmstrom was a talented player, but there were seemingly better players available to the Isles at 24.
For the first two years, Holmstrom seemed to struggle for consistency. How much of that struggle is due to playing through the pandemic isn't clear, but he still struggled. This year though, Holmstrom has taken a big step forward.
Through 68 games Holmstrom picked up 12 goals and 43 points. Both are career highs. Watching Holmstrom play you can see the AHL game start to slow down for him. Remember, he doesn't turn 21 until late May. He's still quite young.
Now can Holmstrom take that step up to the NHL next year? He seems ready to at least challenge for a roster spot with the senior Islanders. The Isles need youth and they need guys who can perform in the NHL with cheap contracts. Can Holmstrom be that guy?