Welcome to the Isles Talk 2023 version of Path To The Draft where before we discuss the NHL draft class of 2023, I love to take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture that is the New York Islanders organization prospect pool so that I can see what direction Isles general manager, Lou Lamoriello might be leaning towards. The first set of prospects I look at are the junior players from the CHL and Europe. I will not be covering all of them as some have not made a significant impact this year, but my main focus are the ones I believe are either headed to or are on their way to the Bridgeport Islanders in the near future.
Honorable Mention: Aleksi Malinen LD; 189th overall 2021 draft
A good mobile skater who can beat forecheckers and bring the puck out of his zone. He’s done everything but score goals. What I like about him is that he’s been playing professional hockey in Finland’s Liga since he was 17 and in a few international tournaments, including the World Juniors. He was drafted as a long-term project and will remain that way. If he makes it to the NHL think of him has a 3rd pair Devon Toews with out the scoring.
7. Riley Piercey Forward; Undrafted
I’m branching out here a bit as I’ve seen this becoming a trend in the NHL because of the effects from the covid outbreak. A lot of minor league teams are signing free agents to shore up their teams depth while still giving these players the time they need to develop. Piercey lost a full season from Flint Firebirds of the OHL due to the pandemic. He’s put up some decent numbers during the regular season, but his playoff numbers (25 games 4 goals 8 assists for 12 points) are what stand out to me as to why the Isles have some intrigue with him. His main goal this season is to adapt to the speed of the AHL and perhaps earn himself an NHL contract.
6. Alexander Ljungkrantz Forward; 90th overall 2020 Draft
Ljungkrantz still looks like a mix between Matt Martin and JG Pageau. You’ll probably see him on a fourth line in the NHL, but he got to play more professional games this year in the SHL and put up some respectable numbers for his position (52 games 6 goals 5 assists for 11 points). I won’t say next season is a make or break for Ljungkrantz, but if he can show more consistency, he may get a call to Bridgeport.
5. Calle Odelius LD; 65th overall 2022 Draft
Odelius had a rough time offensively and while he seemed to get less ice time when the opposing talent got better, but it needs to be written that Odelius played this entire season at the age of 18 and just turned 19 today (May 30th). In the same situation as Malinen, he’s yet to put it all together, but Malinen is a few years older and while Odelius is involved in almost every international tournament, he only has two professional games in the SHL. Where he pans out is still uncertain, but a roster spot in the NHL is still very likely with him being such a young prospect.
4. Tristian Lennox G; 93rd overall 2022 Draft
Lennox signed his entry-level deal with the Islanders following a career year with Saginaw of the OHL. Lennox has seen a lot of rubber as his team has not been very good in the past. Lennox did win goaltender of the month in the OHL, but his regular season numbers were on par with the season before, which are not great, but the OHL is more of a shooters gallery and the numbers are rough on goalies in general. What has me optimistic were his playoff numbers: 11 games a 2.64 GAA and a .908 save percentage. He’ll probably be backup to Jakub Skarek this season while the coaching staff will try to refine his skills and get him acclimated to the pro game.
3. Daylan Keufler LW; 174th overall 2022 Draft
Here is your Anders Lee of the WHL. He’s still playing in the Memorial Cup with the Kamloops Blazers and another player lost in the development shuffle because of covid. He’s already signed his entry-level deal so I’m looking for how well he can adjust to the speed of the pros to see if he can match the 30 playoff games, 13 goals 11 assists 24 points and hopefully more this coming season.
2. Isiah George LD/RD; 98th overall 2022 Draft
George had his best year in terms of quality games played racking up 20 playoff games despite being a very young 19 year old. He reminds me of a mix of Adam Pelech’s defensive game and Noah Dobson’s ability to bring the puck up. He should get consideration for the World Junior championships next season. I still don’t expect him to be in Bridgeport for another two seasons, but like Odelius there’s no rush to any of these raw defenseman.
1 Matthew Maggio RW; 142nd overall 2022 Draft
Here is a name that hasn’t been brought into the Islanders light since the late 90’s or early 2000’s (Unless you’re “We Want Fish Sticks” author, Nick Hirshon)….Mariusz Czerkawski. If the Islanders can continue to develop his two-way game, improve his speed and muscle, while not losing his scoring touch, you have a mold of arguably the Isles top-five best right winger in history. In 29 playoff games for the Offensive-heavy Windsor Spitfires, Maggio recorded 8 goals 11 assists for 19 points. Coming to a team in Bridgeport where defense/2-way game is the primary focus, Maggio could very well be the all-round player we as fans were hoping from “Chow” 20 years ago. I’m not putting him ahead of William Dufour, but having those two on the right side for potentially the next two seasons is exciting.
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