It is rare when a player stays for more than three seasons with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The team exists for one purpose and one purpose only … develop talent for their NHL affiliate, the New York Islanders.
Each September, a half-dozen or so twenty-year olds arrive in Bridgeport to begin their careers as professional hockey players against bigger, faster, stronger competition.
This years arrivals could include forwards Brock Nelson, Kirill Kabanov, Johan Sundstrom, John Persson, Mike Halmo and perhaps Nino Niederreiter, each, an investment by the Islanders in the future of the franchise.
The Islanders are just a day away from joining 29 other NHL clubs in the festivities of July 1st. To a lot of people, it is just another summer day to be enjoyed outside. For many others, it's a day meant for excitement or anguish which steals one's complete attention for TSN, Twitter and any other fast paced media outlet that will have updates on the opening of NHL Free Agency.
The Isles appear set to be parting ways with Mark Eaton, Steve Staios, Milan Jurcina and perhaps their most important free agent, PA Parenteau. The latter has served as an important member on the team's top line for the past two seasons and is coming off his biggest year, likely to command a long term contract and a significant pay raise on the open market.
The previously mentioned defenseman will not receive any grief for signing elsewhere. In fact, many Islanders fans will probably be overjoyed that they will have the opportunity to see aging veterans replaced by young, upcoming talent from within the organization.
The 2012 NHL entry draft concluded this past weekend and with it came seven new prospects to the Islanders system. In a strange move by Garth Snow, the franchise picked all defenseman.
Most of these prospects are still a year or two away from wearing an Islanders jersey but here's a look at what the future might hold.
Many of you have heard about the first round selection Griffin Reinhart so we'll touch on the picks made during the second day of the draft.
In the second round (34th overall), the Islanders selected Ville Pokka from Karpat of the Finnish professional league. Pokka is already playing against men as a 17-year old and still was able to put up three assists in 35 games.
You couldn't have been more wrong if you predicted the Islanders to take a forward in this year's draft. The Isles only selected defenseman out of all seven rounds of this year's draft. They also acquired the top four defenseman that GM Garth Snow has continuously talked about addressing in this off-season.
The first move came when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Islanders traded their 2013 second round pick to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Lubomir Visnovsky, a 35-year old defenseman (he turns 36 in August) in the final year of his contract. Visnovsky put up six goals and 21 assists for 27 points in 68 games last year with the Ducks. The year before was even better as the Ducks d-man scored 61 points in 81 games. 2012 was a tough year overall for the Ducks, so there's reason to believe that Visnovsky can be an offensive weapon, especially on the power play.
With the NHL 2012 Entry Draft rapidly approaching, Friday June 22nd, 2012 into Saturday June 23rd, 2012, there are many selections left to be determined. Most importantly to us is where do the Islanders fit in, in this year's draft. Once again the Islanders have a pick in the top five, this year it is the number 4 pick and there are a few ways in which the Islanders can use this pick. (Photo Credit: The Hockey Writers)
In this edition of the prospect report I will continue my look into what the Islanders and Garth Snow may do with the 4th overall selection in the upcoming draft. In the first part of the series I looked at some of the top rated defensive prospects in the draft. That article can be found by clicking here. This time around I will look at some of the offensive prospects that could be available at #4 and how they might fit with the Islanders.
We all know that unless the Islanders trade up to the first overall pick that they don’t stand a chance at getting Nail Yakupov so I will leave him off this list. The first forward I will look at will be Mikhail Grigorenko (6’-3” 200lbs) from Quebec of the QMJHL. Mikhail is expected to be the 2nd Russian taken in the top five after Yakupov. He is a big center-man with a high hockey IQ that helps him see the ice and generate points. His great vision and hands led him to 85 points in 59 games during his first season of North American hockey.
The countdown of the Islanders top 15 prospects not playing in the AHL or NHL continues on as we have reached the top 5. If you missed either of the other two parts of the countdown, well numbers 10-6 can be found here and numbers 15-11 can be found here. Without further ado here is the top 5.
(Photo Credit: GuelphStorm.com)Pedan just finished his second season with the Guelph Storm of the OHL and it was another successful season for the young defenseman from Russia. Andrey played in 63 games this season finishing with 40 points (10 goals and 30 assists). He also played in 6 games during the OHL playoffs where the Storm were eliminated in the first round. (Photo Credit: GuelphStorm.com)
With most hockey seasons coming to a close it is important to keep up with the Islanders prospects that are still making a push in the playoffs. Ryan Strome and Kirill Kabanov are both still taking part in the OHL and QMJHL playoffs that are currently on going.
Ryan Strome and the Niagara Ice Dogs started their second round playoff series against the Brampton Battalion this past weekend. The Ice Dogs were able to take the first two games in the series winning the first 2-1 in overtime and taking game two 3-1. So far in this series Strome has only been held to 1 goal. He does still have 11 points in 8 games so far this postseason which are pretty solid stats to have. The series continues tonight in Niagara.
The playoffs might be further out of sight, and the reality that the Islanders aren't a playoff team has become more and more apparent with every weakening loss, but this is not the time to "fail for Nail."
Nail Yakupov is considered to be the obvious choice for the number one overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The 19-year old Russian sniper scored 101 points (49 goals, 52 assists) in 65 games played for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He currently has 31 goals and 37 assists for 68 points for Sarnia and is a +14. The Islanders, like every other team in the NHL, could certainly benefit from having another scoring winger added to their line-up.
So why do I say that the Islanders shouldn't look to drop in the Eastern Conference standings?
This edition of the prospect report brings me to take a second look at two of the Islanders best defensive prospects currently not in the Islanders system. Scott Mayfield and Andrei Pedan are both still involved in their college and junior seasons, and both are still impressing.
Scott Mayfield just recently finished the regular season for Denver University and is currently preparing for the first round of the conference playoffs. He finished the regular season playing in 35 games and scoring 3 goals to go with 8 assist. He also was able to maintain his +4 rating that he had the last time we heard from him. I was recently able to watch him play on the CBS college sports network and I was impressed. He wasn’t overly flashy but was a solid reliable defenseman, which is something the Islanders desperately need. (Photo Cerdit/Twitter.com @scottmayfield2)