The annual grand ranking of the top prospects (skaters only) outside the NHL by Corey Pronman, now with the Athletic, looks fairly highly on the New York Islanders farm system.
Four teams, including the Islanders, had five players among this ranking. Four others had six players, and two others (Red Wings, Kings) had more than that. (Did anyone have zero? Yes. The Capitals. Tee hee.)
Which Islanders prospects made the list? You can probably guess, and there’s a decent chance that the top one will no longer qualify as “outside the NHL” this time next year.
Here’s a quick look at who they are, where Pronman has them ranked, and which other prospects in the vicinity you can compare them to.
Pronman goes all the way to 124 because that includes every prospect “up until the end of the very good/legit bubble tier.” For context, the “behind/ahead of” notes below refer to either fellow defensemen or fellow forwards:
20. Noah Dobson, D
No surprise here. A bit of what Pronman writes about the Isles’ top blueline prospect, who he previously listed at 36:
I also underrated his offensive game last season. He can make seam plays, his skill isn’t amazing, but he has 1-on-1 ability. He may not be a true first power play type, but he could spot there. There is no visible weakness in his game, just a bunch of strengths.
Behind: 17. Philip Broberg (Edmonton)
Ahead of: 25. Adam Boqvist (Chicago)
67. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW
Also not a surprise to see, though some may be higher on Wilde in terms of overall value. Pronman seemed undeterred by Wahlstrom’s rocky NCAA season, which may have been somewhat mitigated by an impressive yet brief AHL debut:
His major issue is consistency and competing for pucks, which can make him frustrating. I still believe in the player a lot because he’s so talented and I don’t think his season was that troubling, even if it was to some degree.
Behind: 66. Joe Veleno (Detroit)
Ahead of: 69. Jason Robertson (Dallas)
73. Otto Koivula, C
One wonders where this ranking — and where Koivula himself — would be if Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson hadn’t seen fit to switch Koivula to center early last season. The move was a revelation, and frankly changes the Islanders’ organizational depth chart.
He can create for his teammates and finish plays. I wouldn’t call him a top playmaker, though. The main issue historically with Koivula is his skating.
Behind: 72. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas)
Ahead of: 75. Alex Nylander (Chicago)
91. Bode Wilde, D
As implied above, this one may be a surprise. Last year Pronman had Wilde at 57. Instead of excerpting his initial summary, it’s worth looking into the comments where he answers a question about why the drop:
Extremely tough player for me to evaluate. In different iterations of this process I had him as a high end/very good bubble. Maybe his iffy WJC camp reminded me of historical issues when pace gets quicker and he makes errors. I still know NHL scouts who adore him and scouts who have little time for him.
Wilde sounds like a classic high-upside, high-risk prospect. The Islanders have had their share of those in the past decade, but among all of them my hopes that Wilde pans out are higher than they have been in other cases.
I feel like whatever happens, we’ll have a very good picture at the end of this AHL season. Some high-upside players have to adjust downward toward a conservative style in order to carve out an NHL career, but Wilde has the look of a player who’s either going to make it as billed or else never get that chance.
Behind: 89. Dylan Samberg (Winnipeg)
Ahead: 91. Ian Mitchell (Chicago)
104. Kieffer Bellows, LW
Unlike Wahlstrom, Bellows had all season in the AHL last year. It wasn’t always smooth. His ranking is relatively low, but the ingredients are strong. Part of what Pronman wrote:
He can score from anywhere in the offensive zone. He also competes hard and isn’t a typical sniper who hangs out around the dots. He can score from there, but he also plays around the net.
Behind: 103. Jack Studnicka (Boston)
Ahead of: 106. Mathias Emilio Pettersen (Calgary)
There you have it. Of the above, only Dobson has betting odds to make the opening NHL roster this season — though he’s also the only one who can’t be sent to the AHL, which affects that decision. Koivula has a chance only if there’s an injury or major flameout by free agent signing Derick Brassard.
The rest might be knocking at the door but will almost certainly have to wait their chance.