Blog: The Barzal Effect

Part three of the Prospects are the ones who are not yet old enough or talented to make it to the professional teams. With another year of development, each of these players should be making their way to either Bridgeport or the Islanders in the near future. I’ve selected five players who will either see time in Bridgeport next year or may just make the Islanders sooner than later. Now this list could change after this weekend, but I’ll say this now, I don’t think the players ranked first or second will change after this weekends draft in Buffalo, that’s how good they are and it’s also a reason why I’m reading/hearing Islanders general manager Garth Snow is looking to trade the 19th overall pick, but more on that in another piece. So in this finale section of prospects, here are my top five players.

At number 5, Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin is probably the best goalie in the KHL right now. So why do I have him ranked so low? Well, if you haven’t seen any games in the KHL, it’s a weird league. Numbers really don’t matter too much and it’s more like a “live-in-the-moment” league where you could be a hot goalie one year and be really, really bad in another. The other reason for the low ranking is that Sorokin is still in the KHL and it doesn’t seem that he’ll be coming over to North America anytime soon. The players ahead of him will most certainly be in the AHL by next year. If Sorokin were playing in North America now with close to the same numbers this past season, he’d be at number 2.

Number 4 belongs to defenceman Doyle Somerby. He reminds me of a Brooks Orpik in that he’s big and he can hit as well as be in the right spot for his size (6’5″ 226lb). He skates very well as he used to be a forward before converting into defenceman. He’s going to be Captain of Boston University and he’s usually paired with BU’s top offensive-defenseman. His numbers have improved each year after he was drafted in 2012 and because of the Islanders depth in defensive prospects over the last few years, he’s taken a longer route to the professional ranks and seems to be paying off for everyone. As far as potential goes, he could certainly be a top 6 defenceman in the right situation, but he’ll probably need a year or two in Bridgeport to get used to the speed of the game, but should not be an issue for him as he has a terrific work ethic.

Number 3 on this list should technically be number 1 as defenseman Parker Wotherspoon has already played in 6 games for Bridgeport as an 18-year-old. He’s at number 3 because the next two have more NHL potential, for now. Wotherspoon has the makings of being a better version to Thomas Hickey, but at 170 pounds, will have to physically mature first before getting to the big club. He’ll go back to his Tri-City junior team this coming season and as long as he develops, he looks like a lock for Bridgeport, and then maybe with the Islanders at some point.

At number 2 is a forward who looks like he could be placed anywhere at the left-wing position on the team and he’ll thrive, Anthony Beauvillier. He’s already competed in the World Junior Championship for Team Canada and has put up decent numbers in the QMJHL, where the numbers always look good. The ceiling for him is a top 6 forward, but even if he doesn’t reach that, he’s got the tools to be an effective bottom 6. So no matter how you try to scout him, one way or another, Beauvillier should be on the Islanders in a few years time. Could be Nikolai Kulemin’s replacement some day. So how does a forward with skills like Beauvillier not make it to the number one spot? Because this next prospect almost made the Islanders last year.

The number one junior prospect in this countdown is Mathew Barzal. Barzal almost made it to the NHL after training camp last season as he was the final cut. Like Beauvillier, Barzal played in the World Junior Championships for team Canada, and went deep into the playoffs in the WHL while scoring 26 points in 18 games. He has second line center written all over him and he’s that close. Here is where things get interesting for me to watch. If the Islanders do indeed resign center Frans Nielsen, would the Islanders be willing to trade Barzal for an established forward? Could he be part of a package that included a player and this years first round pick? Would the Islanders trade Brock Nelson at some point to make room for Barzal? What will happen with the expansion draft approaching next year? Or could the Islanders, like Chicago, Detroit and others before them simply let the young players continue to be young players and allow them to take a crack at winning the Memorial Cup in their final junior year and represent Team Canada at the World Juniors? My hope would be that they continue to let him develop in juniors and not rush him like Josh Bailey was.

If the Islanders do draft a prospect with the 19th pick, that player will not be a top 2 on this list as they’ll need more time to develop, but who are the Islanders looking at? If Garth Snow continues to draft the best player available, who will be there at number 19? That’s coming up tomorrow with a small profile on each player as I try to narrow the field down to no more than 5 players. Until tomorrow.

PK (@Netminder39)

Previous Prospect Articles

The Professional Prospects

The Graduating Prospects

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