Last night the New York Islanders signed 5th overall pick Michael Dal Colle to his entry level contract, putting in question his future with the Oshawa Generals. After a 2-1 start the Generals have been operating under the assumption that their star forward would be returning to the team sometime soon. As NHL training camps draw to a close, that assumption has likely turned into worried questioning. The 18 year old from Richmond Hill has not looked out of place at the NHL camp and the Islanders’ lack of depth along the left side definitely creates a hole that could be filled by the talented winger.
Looking at the Islanders depth chart, Nik Kulemin is the only LW that even remotely resembles a top-6 forward in the NHL. As a result, the coaching staff has spent the preseason experimenting by putting centers like Mikhail Grabovski and Josh Baily on the top line with Tavares and Kyle Okposo. These are likely not long-term solutions for the team as Grabovski is slotted to anchor a second line along side ex-leaf linemate Kulemin. Other possible solutions exist, forwards like Cal Clutterbuck and Cory Conacher have played some left wing in their careers but neither have shown the ability to sustain the offensive production necessary to play top-6 minutes.
This brings us to Dal Colle, the first thing you notice when you see the 18 year old on the ice is that he carries an NHL size frame. He still has some filling out to do but he is ahead of most his age when it comes to physical size that can help make an easier transition to the tougher NHL game. Dal Colle has one of the highest skillset for scorers in this past year’s draft. Size, creativity, elusiveness, puck protection, stickhandling, Dal Colle is the total package with the puck on his stick. The biggest obstacle many young players face when making the jump from junior straight to the NHL is play without the puck. Dal Colle has shown that this is less of a concern for him than it is for many players his age. He still can disappear for a couple shifts in a row, but as a two-way player, Dal Colle is more then responsible on the defensive end
Many believe the Islanders hit a home run with the 5th overall pick this past June, far less believed he would be in the lineup for them this season. Many anticipated a run at the OHL scoring title and a key role on the Canadian team that is looking to win gold in his home town at the World Junior Championships this January. The Islanders are stocked with young high-end forward prospects like Andres Lee, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome that are much further along in their development so in all likelihood what we will see is Dal Colle break camp with the Islanders only to be sent back to Oshawa after 9 games as not to trigger the first year of his entry level contract.
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