It's still a long shot, but the Islanders have pulled themselves back into playoff conversations with a 1-0 win yesterday over the New Jersey Devils that has put them within five points of the last spot in the Eastern Conference. But even so, there are plenty of questions that surround the New York Islanders hockey club, ranging from the uncertain future of the arena to whether or not Tim Horton's will ever return to the concession stands. The most important questions, the ones that impact the immediate future, are the ones that need to be answered first; GM Garth Snow has to figure out where certain players will fit on his roster as the rebuild pushes forward.
I've already talked about the possibility of Evgeni Nabokov re-signing with the Islanders, as well as teammate P.A. Parenteau returning in an orange and blue sweater. But Snow will have to take a long look at some of his current regulars and decide where they fit with the team long term as some young, fresh faces are pushing for NHL jobs.
For this edition of the prospect report I will take a second look at the two Islander’s prospects that played in the World Juniors tournament and see how their season has progressed since last hearing from them. Ryan Strome and Johan Sundstrom are two very solid prospects for the Islanders that both have a very good chance of one day wearing an Islanders jersey full time. I introduced you readers to these two prospects after the closing of the World Junior tournament in January. You can find the original article by clicking here.
Ryan Strome is still considered by many to be the top prospect in the Islanders system and he continues his impressive season with the Niagara Ice Dogs. Ryan Strome hasn’t played a full season this year due to injury but in his limited 38 games he has still scored 23 goals and 31 assists. The injury Strome suffered was a broken nose from Brody Slik. The punch was considered to be a sucker punch and landed Slik a 10 game suspension. The good news is that Strome is back playing and still producing at a high level.
A lot of Islanders fans are upset that Garth Snow didn’t do more for the Islanders during the Trade Deadline yesterday and I am here just to give you my opinion on the moves that were and weren’t made. Garth Snow stayed rather quiet throughout the day before moving Rolston and Mottau just at the deadline. I have seen a lot fans on twitter and message boards screaming at Garth because he didn’t do more to help the team at the deadline. I just want to look at a few possible deals that could have been made at the deadline and how they could have affected the Islanders.
One of the Islanders biggest needs is a solid young D-man. The closest one moved at the deadline was Quincey to Detroit for a 1st. Not a bad move for Detroit since their first pick will most likely be at the bottom of the round. Now if the Islanders did that it would have been an AWFUL move because despite our hopes that pick still has a very big chance to be a lottery pick and Quincey isn't worth that!
The season for the New York Islanders is more than halfway over, having completed Game 46 of the 82-game season last night with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime. The win has brought the Isles to a 19-21-6 record putting them eight points out of a playoff spot behind the Washington Capitals sitting in the final, eigth spot.
As John Madonia pointed out in his post-game wrap up, these next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs are crucial for the Islanders. For the first time in a few years, Islanders fans are able to find themselves in a position where they can start looking at the standings and sharing concerns about the success of other teams in their Conference. Two wins against the Leafs would hypothetically put the Isles at only four points out of the playoffs and see them with a .500 record.
The Isles are not in last in the Eastern Conference; they are currently out of the draft lottery; and John Tavares has emerged as an elite talent in the NHL. Part of the rebuild requires looking for signs of progress in all areas. Although those signs that are mentioned above don't necessarily amount to the hopes and dreams of most Islanders fans, they are still important. Slow and steady as she goes.
For this edition of the prospect report I will look at two college forwards that are currently flourishing this season and how they could impact the Islanders. I am talking about University of North Dakota center man Brock Nelson and Norte Dame center Andres Lee. One was a late first round draft pick the other a late round gem found by Garth Snow.
We will start with Brock Nelson who was drafted by the Islanders in the first round, 30th overall in 2010. When drafted Nelson had only played high school hockey in Minnesota so Garth Snow he wouldn’t make the Islanders for a few years. For the past two seasons Brock has been attending the University of North Dakota and has really made strides in his game. So far this season Brock is leading his team in goals (16 so far) and tied for the lead in points with 25 through 23 games. Nelson is a big forward (6’-3” 205lbs) that is learning how to use his size and use it well. He has a hard shot that gets off quickly and is very strong on his skates. Nelson was truly drafted to become a star on the Islanders and from his development so far, it doesn’t look like he will disappoint. A large body that can skate well and shoot with the best of them is a great asset for any team.
With the world junior’s tournament coming to a close earlier this week, it seemed like a good idea to take a look at the two Islanders prospects that took place in the games. Ryan Strome played for team Canada and Johan Sundstrom played for team Sweden. Of course Sundstrom seemed to come out of the games better as he is walking away with a gold medal (probably good for some locker room trash talk in the future).
Ryan Strome led the favored Canadian team into the tournament and didn’t disappoint with his play. In his six games played during the tournament he scored three goals and added another six assists. Unfortunately, Strome left the games with a bronze medal after losing a tough game against the Russians in the semi-finals.
Ryan Strome displayed that he has the hands, the vision and the speed to compete at the highest level of hockey when he put on a show at the Islanders rookie scrimmage this past summer. He was making plays everywhere he was on the ice and then finished the game with an unbelievable shootout goal in the skills competition on Islanders goaltender, Anders Nilsson.
This move still makes my jaw drop when I watch it. Granted, will he ever be able to pull something off like this in a real game? Highly unlikely, especially if he doesn't want to be jumped by the opposing goalie and all of his teammates. But it just goes to show how much skill this kid really has.
Strome is currently participating in the World Juniors tournament for Team Canada to add on to his impressive season with the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL. In 24 games with the Ice Dogs, Strome has 16 goals, 17 assists and 33 points along with a +11 rating and 34 PIMs. He had 106 points in 65 games played last year with the Ice Dogs and appears to be on pace for another great season.
One of the endearing qualities of most Islanders fans I meet is their ability to always look favorably toward the future. Say what you will about the last two decades regarding their favorite franchise, Islanders fans always seem to have an optimistic view of what lies ahead. Whether it’s remaining hopeful that plans for a new arena will somehow develop, or a confidence that the team will someday be champions again, hope never dies on Long Island.
Sure, some of it may lie in the fact that they’ve seen and been through the worst and survived, but mostly it’s a strong loyalty to a team that hasn’t rewarded them nearly as much as they’ve invested, both financially and emotionally.
Ryan Strome is an 18-year old out of Mississauga, Ontario that many Islanders fans were unfamiliar with until the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The 6'1, 183 pound center was selected by the New York Islanders with the fifth overall pick, igniting a fan base to a new level of excitement on draft day.
That's because Strome is a gifted center with great vision and superb play-making ability. He also has some of the craziest hands, as evident by his goal that he scored on Islanders goalie prospect, Anders Nilsson in the rookie scrimmage over the summer.
Currently playing for the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL, Strome has five goals and four assists in only seven games played since be...