The New York Islanders haven't had an overly deep prospect pool for quite some time.
While Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom are two of the team's recent prospects to make the jump to the NHL, they’re the only players selected by the Islanders after 2015 who have played at least 100 NHL games.
However, there should be some optimism around the team’s prospects heading into the season.
William Dufour has also emerged as a top prospect for the team, two years after being selected in the fifth round of the 2020 Draft. The forward is coming off a Memorial Cup win, after scoring 56 goals and 116 points in just 66 games with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, on route to also being named QMJHL MVP.
This summer, he notably also on Gold with Canada at the World Juniors, scoring three goals and seven points in seven tournament games.
The other big name to watch will be Aatu Raty, who the Islanders managed to pick up in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft. This past season, the forward showed exactly why he had been seen as a potential first-overall pick in the first place, scoring 13 goals and 41 points in 47 games while playing in Finland’s top professional league. He then also had a great showing at the World Juniors, scoring three goals and 10 points in seven games, on route to a Silver Medal with Finland.
Dufour is 20 years old, while Raty is only just turning 20 in November. The two should both be joining the Bridgeport Islanders this season, where we’ll get a better look at how close the prospects may be to NHL action.
We should also see Robin Salo compete for a permanent spot in the NHL (though nearing 24 years old, it's somewhat debatable if the term 'prospect' is applicable for Salo). Salo played 21 games with New York this season and with Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene out of the picture, Salo should have a great chance to earn playing time on the left side of the defense group.
Simon Holmstrom and Samuel Bolduc are also names to watch in the AHL. Holmstrom took a big step this past season, scoring 12 goals and 43 points in 68 games with Bridgeport, and while Bolduc’s numbers declined from the 2021 season, the 2019 second-round pick still projects as a quality defenseman. Ruslan Iskhakov, selected 43rd overall by New York in 2018, will also be joining Bridgeport, after two impressive seasons playing professional hockey in Europe.
While the Islanders’ prospect pool doesn’t include many other high-profile names, there are some other players to keep an eye on as well. Later round picks in Eetu Liukas and Matias Rajaniemi also won Silver with Finland, alongside Raty. The Islanders also signed their top pick in this year’s draft, defenseman Calle Odelius, to a three-year, entry-level contract a few weeks ago. Odelius was selected 65th overall and produced well while playing junior hockey in Sweden. He’ll make the jump to professional hockey this season.
While the Islanders’ prospect pool is far from top-tier, the organization does seem to be developing some quality, young talent. Heading into the season, there are actually quite a few names to keep an eye on and while it’s unlikely any will earn a role with the team out of camp, some may not be as far off as would’ve been projected just a year ago.