2021 TSP: New York Islanders Prospects

Aatu Raty, 2021 New York Islanders Prospects
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Welcome to the 2021 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2021 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. You can find all the articles here.  Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2021 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the 2021 New York Islanders Prospects.

What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2021-22 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

NHL free agent frenzy

2021 New York Islanders Prospects

Islanders Season and Off-Season

The Islanders put up 71 points in 56 games, finishing fourth in the East Division and making the playoffs. Once there, they went on a real run. The Islanders took out the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the first round. They then took out the Bruins in six games in the second round. However, the Islanders ran into the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the semi-final. The Islanders gave Tampa all they could handle but fell in seven games.

The off-season started with Jordan Eberle going to Seattle in the expansion draft. They also traded defenceman Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings for Richard Panik and a draft pick. Other off-season losses include Travis Zajac, and Brayden Coburn. The big off-season addition is Zach Parise. For the most part this off-season was about locking up the core as Ilya Sorokin, Casey Czikas, Adam Pelech, Anthony Beauvillier, and Kyle Palmeiri to multi-year deals.

2021 Draft Picks (B)Aatu RatyTristan Lennox, Cameron Berg, Eetu Liukas, Aleksi Malinen, Tomas Machu
Graduations: Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, Ilya Sorokin (age), Michael Dal Colle, Sebastian Aho (age)

 

2021 Top New York Islanders Prospect: Aatu Raty

The Islanders drafted Raty with the 52nd overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft. Prior to the draft, we took an in-depth look at Raty. As there has not been a significant sample size of games played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

 

#2 Prospect: Samuel Bolduc

Left Defence — shoots Left
Born December 9th, 2000 — Laval, Quebec
Height 6’4″– Weight 213 lbs [193 cm/97 kg]
Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 2nd round, #57 overall, at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Bolduc turned pro last season, joining the Bridgeport Islanders in the AHL. He put up six goals and eight assists for 14 points in 24 games.

Skating

Bolduc’s strong skating is the foundation of his two-way game. He has a good stride and this gives him good acceleration and top-end speed in both directions. This speed allows him to join the rush or to pinch at the blue line and still get back defensively. Bolduc has strong edgework and good agility. They allow him to move laterally, walking the line in the offensive zone and maintaining gap control on the defensive end. He also has crisp pivots that allow him to transition from defence to offence quickly. Bolduc could stand to add some muscle to his frame. Bolduc is decent in the corners and in front of the net but could be even better.

Offensive Game

Bolduc can play the role of playmaker. He marries his strong skating with good puck handling skills. This allows Bolduc to skate the puck out of danger in his own end or to carry it through the neutral zone and generate efficient zone entries. Bolduc has good vision and passing skills. He makes a good first pass and starts the transition game. Bolduc is also poised at the blue line. Handling the puck and looking to set up a teammate. He’s not the most creative passer though, looking instead to make the safe play.

Bolduc has really improved his shot over the last couple of years. His slap shot is much harder than it used to be. He also makes use of his wrist shot at the top of the circles. Bolduc does a good job of moving laterally to open up shooting lanes and get his shots on net. He keeps things low, allowing his teammates to set up in front of the goalie for the screen, as well as to get deflections and rebounds.

Defensive Game

Bolduc battles hard in front of the net and in the corners. He could use a bit more upper-body strength to play this style against pros but Bolduc is more than willing to play physically. He also is strong positionally forcing his man to the outside and away from good shooting areas. Bolduc is a big defender and uses his long stick to cut down passing lanes. His strong skating helps him to defend one-on-one and maintain good gap control. Bolduc is willing to put his body on the line to block shots.

Outlook

Bolduc needs a bit more time to round out his game and is likely to head back to the AHL with Bridgeport. If he can add muscle to his frame and gain the experience to be a strong defender, he could grow into a top-four defenceman for the Islanders. He could be a call-up if injuries hit the Islanders blue line this season but is likely a full year away from being a full-time NHLer.

 

#3 Prospect: Robin Salo

Left Defence — shoots Left
Born October 13th, 1998 — Espoo, Finland
Height 6’1″ — Weight 187 lbs [186 cm / 85 kg]
Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 2nd Round, 46th Overall in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Salo spent last season with Orebro in the SHL. He scored six goals and 30 points in 51 games. He also added four points in nine playoff games. Salo made Team Finland for the European Hockey Tour.

Skating

Salo’s skating stride is a bit choppy and awkward. This makes for a bit of a heavy first step as well as some clumsiness in his acceleration. It has improved but there is still a bit more work to do. Salo will never be a speedster, but once he gets going, he is able to keep up with the play. Salo’s backwards skating suffers from the same awkwardness in his stride. It is another area that has improved though. Salo’s edgework and agility could also use some work. Overall a bit of refinement in his technique could go a long way to really improving Salo as a prospect. He does have good balance though; helping him to fight for pucks in the corners as well as to battle for position in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Salo makes smart plays with the puck on his stick. He starts the transition game with a strong first pass and picks his spots on when to join the rush. He is poised with the puck at the blue line, reacting well to pressure, and setting up teammates from the point. He has excellent vision and finds teammates when they are open. Salo does not pinch in from the line often, but rarely gets caught out of position when he does.

Salo also has a very heavy slap shot, which he can get off at the point or on a one-timer. He needs to learn to keep it low and on the net more often to allow his teammates to get tip-ins and rebounds. His slap shot accuracy can be an issue, as he often misses the net high and wide. Salo is more effective with his wrist shot right. He gets it on the net and can get it through traffic and pressure at the blue line. His release is also very quick and gives goaltenders issues.

Defensive Game

Salo is extremely smart in his own zone. He has very good positioning and maintains excellent gap control. He reads the play well and seems to anticipate where the puck could be going a step ahead of others on the ice. The intelligence and positioning really help him to overcome his skating issues and still be a strong defender in his own end. He fights for loose pucks and is not afraid to battle in front of the net as well. Salo is good at using his stick to cut down passing lanes. He is also quick to poke check it away from an opponent. When a turnover is created, Salo transitions the puck up the ice quickly.

Outlook

Robin Salo projects as a top-four defenceman if he can work on his weaknesses. He may never be a big-time scorer, but a solid second unit power play player and the ability to be used on the penalty kill could be in his future. Salo has a lot of the skills you want in a young defenceman, he just is not dominant at any one aspect. He signed with the Islanders in the off-season and will play in North America this season. Whether that is in the NHL or AHL could be decided in training camp.

 

#4 Prospect: Simon Holmstrom

Right Wing — shoots Right
Born May 24th, 2001 — Tranas, Sweden
Height 6’1” — Weight 185 lbs [185 cm/84 kg]
Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 1st Round, #23 Overall at the 2019 NHL Draft.

Holmstrom started his season with HC Vita Hasten in the Allsvenskan. He put up one goal and one assist in 11 points. The teenager then joined Sweden’s team at the World Juniors. While he put up five assists in five tournament games, the Swedish team disappointed, being eliminated in the quarter-finals. He then joined Bridgeport where he scored four goals and seven points in 24 games.

Skating

Holmstrom is a very good skater. He has good, but not great top-end speed. His acceleration is very good, which allows him to reach that top speed in just a few strides. This gives defenders issues as he can pull away once he gets a step on them. Holmstrom has elite-level agility and edgework. He uses this to beat defenders with quick changes in direction. This also helps him to open up passing and shooting lanes. Holmstrom has good balance. His stride is powerful and allows him to fight through checks.

Offensive Game

Holmstrom has excellent hands. He can control the puck while moving at top speed. He combines his hands with his excellent agility to create space to set up teammates. Holmstrom changes angles and creates openings to get the puck to a teammate. He has outstanding vision and can pass the puck through tight spaces, whether he is making that pass on the backhand or the forehand. He is an intelligent player who reads the play well and anticipates where his teammates are going to be. Holmstrom has the ability to control the puck down low on the cycle, giving his teammates time to get open for a scoring chance.

Holmstrom can also play the role of the goal-scorer. His soft, quick hands translate in close to the net. His ability to change the angle on his shot is also useful. Holmstrom has a good wrist shot with a quick release. He could stand to improve his slapshot and one-timer though. Holmstrom can fight through checks in order to make plays. However, he is not going to lay many of those hits himself. He is not really aggressive on the forecheck or in the corners.

Defensive Game

Holmstrom is strong positionally and uses his body and stick to cut down passing lanes. He is willing to support the defence and reads the play well. Holmstrom does a good job of keeping himself between his man and the net and forcing opponents to the outside. He has been an effective penalty killer at the junior level. Similar to his play in the offensive zone though, Holmstrom is not really a physical player.

Outlook

Since his draft season Holmstrom has missed significant development time with injuries including a concussion, hip surgery and a broken thumb, as well as having two seasons cut short due to Covid-19. He needs to play a full season this year, as his game needs work and there is no replacement for game action against high-level competition. A healthy year is crucial to his development. If he can stay healthy and develop, he could be a top-six winger. He will need to be stronger, as well as trust his shooting and goal-scoring ability a bit more.

 

#5 Prospect: Bode Wilde

Right Defence — shoots Right
Born January 24th, 2000 — Montreal, Quebec
Height 6’2″ — Weight 192 lbs [188 cm/87 kg]
Drafted by New York Islanders in the 2nd round, #41 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft.

Wilde had his first season as a full-time professional last year. In 22 games in the AHL, he put up three goals and three assists for six points.

Skating

Wilde pairs excellent size with smooth-skating and two-way ability. He is strong on his skates defensively, with the physicality to clear the front of the net as well as win battles in the corners. His speed and footwork allow him to keep attackers in front of him, maintain good gap control and force them to the outside. He also has very good acceleration in both directions. This also allows him to join the rush. Wilde also shows good edgework and pivots. He transitions quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He also has the agility to walk the line, opening up shooting and passing lanes on the powerplay.

Offensive Game

Wilde has an absolute bomb of a point shot and understands how to keep it low and on the net to give teammates an opportunity for a deflection or rebound. Wilde can really fire the puck. This makes him a real threat from the point. He can also get it done in a variety of ways with an excellent wrist shot, and strong snapshot. His shots all feature a quick release as well. He loves to sneak down from the point and let his shot go from the top of the faceoff circles. Wilde is able to get his shot off, and on the net despite traffic.

He is also a very good passer, starting breakouts and making plays at the point. Wilde can start the transition game with his passing skill. He also has the skating and stickhandling skills to rush the puck up the ice. At the blue line, he shows poise with the puck and the patience to set up teammates. He also has the vision and passing ability to run the powerplay. His agility and ability to walk the line allow Wilde to open up passing and shooting lanes. He sometimes takes too many chances though and can be victimized by some bad giveaways.

Defensive Game

Wilde’s defensive game is still a work in progress. At times he is a big, physical defender, who controls the game in his own end. However, he is wildly inconsistent. There are other games where he is a liability in his own end. He will need to work on gap control and positioning going forward. He also needs to avoid going for the big hit at times and continue to stay in his defensive position instead.

Outlook

Wilde made waves in training camp when it was revealed that he was the only person in the Islanders organization who was refusing to take a Covid-19 Vaccine. With the rules for unvaccinated players in the NHL and AHL being quite restrictive, the Islanders have opted to send him to Sweden where he will play for Vasterviks in the Allsvenskan this season. He still needs a year or two of development and learning to put up points at the professional level before he is ready for full-time NHL action.

 

#6 Prospect: Otto Koivula

Left Wing — shoots Left
Born September 1st, 1998 — Nokia, Finland
Height 6’5″ — Weight 190 lbs [196 cm/86 kg]
Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 4th round, #120 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft.

With the start of the North American season delayed, Koivula went to Finland to play for HIFK in the Liiga. He put up three goals and 11 points in 14 games. When the AHL season got started, the Finnish winger joined Bridgeport where he put up two goals and nine points in 20 games.

Skating

Koivula, like many big players, has some struggles with his skating. His stride is a bit jerky and awkward and this robs him in terms of generating quick acceleration and decent top-end speed. Despite this, good positioning and high-end hockey IQ help him to keep up with the play. He does enough to be involved but does not have the type of speed through the neutral zone to be particularly dangerous on an odd-man rush. His agility and edgework are also average at best. Koivula is strong on his skates and good at battling for position in front of the net or winning battles on the boards.

Offensive Game

Koivula plays a power game. He gets to the front of the net and has the soft hands to finish plays in close. He scores on tip-ins and deflections; by banging in rebounds; and by one-timing passes into the back of the net. Koivula also has a decent wrist shot and good release but does not use it enough from further out. Most of his goals come from the front of the net.

Koivula also does the dirty work for his line. He battles for loose pucks in the corners and controls the puck in the cycle game. With his big body and strong puck-protection skills and quick hands, he is able to keep possession down low. Koivula is able to slow plays down and allow his linemates time to get open. When they do, he can make a strong pass through a tight area to set up a scoring chance. While he is not a huge hitter, he is very effective at using his size and power to help his team create offence.

Defensive Game

Koivula is willing to use his body in the defensive end of the ice as well. He backchecks effectively, supporting the defence down low and helping to contain opposing forwards. He does a good job of keeping opponents to the outside and away from prime scoring areas. Koivula uses his big body and long stick to cut down passing lanes and create turnovers.

Outlook

The big winger likely needs another year in the AHL, though he could be called up if the Islanders have injury concerns at some point. He needs to continue to work on his skating. Koivula will work to continue to grow into an NHL player, though there are some questions as to his upside. His future may be as a bottom-six winger, playing strong defensive hockey and occasionally providing offence.

 

#7 Prospect: Kieffer Bellows

Left Wing — shoots Left
Born June 10th, 1998 — Edina, Minnesota
Height 6’1″ — Weight 200 lbs [185 cm/91 kg]
Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 1st round, #19 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft.

Bellows was part of the Islanders roster last season but only played 14 games. He picked up three goals. Bellows’ effort level and defensive game were criticized publically by Barry Trotz for one particularly weak performance. This led to a lengthy period as a healthy scratch. Bellows also did not appear in the playoffs.

Skating

Bellows is a good skater, with the speed to get in quickly on the forecheck. He has a quick first step and good acceleration, allowing him to win races to loose pucks. Bellows changes speeds effectively and can use this to fool defenders on the rush. He can beat them to the outside and accelerate to the front of the net or can slow up to open up a shooting lane and use the defender as a screen. Bellows shows decent power and balance but can still improve his lower body strength even more.

Offensive Game

Like his father, Kieffer Bellows is a pure sniper. He has a tremendous wrist shot and release, as well as an excellent one-timer. His arsenal also features a heavy snapshot and good backhand. However, he struggled to find open ice and get away from defenders this past season, limiting his scoring opportunities. Bellows also has the soft hands and quick reflexes to get deflections and to pounce on rebounds and score in tight. He is not afraid to get his nose dirty, battling for space in front of the net. He needs to be stronger on his skates to win those battles at this level.

Bellows is more of a physically punishing forward than his father was, as he is more than willing to throw big hits when he gets in on the forecheck. He also shows excellent stickhandling ability, and the agility to beat defenders one-on-one, either off the rush or in the cycle game. Bellows uses his body to protect the puck in the cycle game and extend plays. Bellows sometimes gets a bit of tunnel vision, trying to shoot everything, but with his shot and scoring prowess at lower levels, it is hard to blame him too much for that. He can be a good passer, and shows good vision, but must be more consistent in using these skills. Bellows plays the game on the edge and this can sometimes lead to him crossing the line and taking bad penalties. He must dial that back going forward.

Defensive Game

Bellows defensive game also proved to be a work in progress. He was a good defensive player in junior hockey but has had issues dealing with the strength of his opponents at the NHL level. Despite his quick skating, he seems a step behind the play at times. He will need to learn how to read the play quicker and to keep his feet moving going forward or he will continue to find himself in the coach’s doghouse.

Outlook

Bellows needs more time to round out his game. There are still some big adjustments he will need to make. The ceiling here is very high, but there is work to do. He’s running out of time to impress Trotz and the Islanders’ staff though. If he can’t earn a full-time spot this season, he may be included in a trade that could bring immediate help to the team.

 

#8 Prospect: William Dufour

Right Wing — shoots Right
Born January 28th, 2002 — Quebec City, Quebec
Height 6’3″ — Weight 204 lbs [191 cm/93 kg]
Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 5th round, #152 overall, at the 2020 NHL Draft.

Dufour had a strong season in the QMJHL putting up 17 goals and 29 points in 23 games for Drummondville. In his draft year, there were questions if the offence he showed in the second half of that year was an actual improvement in his game or just a hot streak in a small sample size. Dufour seems to have answered those questions.

Skating

Dufour’s skating is a bit hit and miss. There are some very good aspects including his first step, his speed and his acceleration. He has no problem keeping up with the play or getting in quickly on the forecheck. Dufour also has a powerful stride, he can fight through checks and keep going towards the net. He is strong on the puck and wins battles in the corners and in front of the net. However, Dufour can use work on his edgework and agility. He loses speed on his turns and lacks a bit of lateral agility. Dufour is more willing to go through a defender than around one but could stand to improve this aspect of his game.

Offensive Game

A power forward type, Dufour drives the net effectively both with and without the puck. Once he gets there, he can finish with quick hands to get the puck up quickly. He can also create havoc, screening goalies, fighting for his position, tipping in pucks, pouncing on rebounds, and quickly firing in passes from teammates. Dufour can also score from further out. He has a powerful wrist shot and a strong one-timer. His wrist shot features a quick release and his ability to change angles can be deceptive for goaltenders. He also has a knack for finding the open areas of the ice where a teammate can get him a pass to create a scoring opportunity.

More of a goal scorer than a playmaker, Dufour creates the majority of his assists through hard work. He gets in quickly on the forecheck and loves to hit defenders going back to retrieve loose pucks. This puts a lot of pressure on the defender and causes mistakes. Dufour uses his body to protect the puck on the cycle. He is not going to make a lot of creative moves or passes but he keeps the puck moving with smart passes and then looks for open ice. He is strong on the boards, with the ability to win puck battles.

Defensive Game

Dufour brings the gritty style to his own end of the ice as well. He brings good backpressure and is willing to support the defence against the cycle game. This is another area where he is willing to use his size and strength to play a physical game. He is also good away from the puck. Dufour reads the play well and uses a long stick to cut down passing lanes and take away the opponent’s options. Once a turnover is created, he looks to make the smart pass to start the transition game. He is not afraid to block shots either. Dufour has been an effective penalty killer.

Projection and Comparison

Dufour has many of the skills that teams are looking for in a power forward prospect. Consistency has been a major issue. If he develops, he could be a top-six forward. However, even if his offensive game falls off, his size, skating, and defensive play could still land him an NHL job. Dufour is back in the QMJHL this season, though an off-season trade finds him with a new team, the Saint John Sea Dogs.

 

#9 Prospect: Ruslan Iskhakov

Centre — shoots Left
Born July 22nd, 2000 — Moscow, Russia
Height 5’8″ — Weight 169 lbs [173 cm/77 kg]
Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 2nd round, #43 overall, at the 2018 NHL Draft.

After leaving the University of Connecticut, Iskhakov played for TPS Turku in the Finnish Liiga last season. He put up 10 goals and 38 points in 54 games. Iskhakov also added two goals and seven points in 13 playoff games. He helped the team to the Finnish final, but they fell short, losing to Lukko.

Skating

Iskhakov is an undersized forward but makes up for it with very good skating ability. He has a textbook stride and his first few steps are extremely quick. He also has excellent acceleration. Iskhakov uses his ability to change speeds as a weapon, lulling a defender into a sense of security and then quickly speeding up to create space both with and without the puck. His top-end speed is excellent and helps him to create odd-man opportunities in transition. Iskhakov also has very good agility and edgework. His quick cuts and lateral movements also help him beat defenders. He needs to add muscle to his frame though. Despite the low centre of gravity, it is a bit too easy to knock him off the puck and he doesn’t win enough one-on-one battles.

Offensive Game

Iskhakov is a dynamic playmaker. He pairs his skating with excellent hands and stickhandling ability. His ability to handle the puck allows him to carry the puck through the neutral zone, weaving away from defenders and generating effective zone entries. He can also control the puck on the perimeter, giving his teammates time to get open. When they do, Iskhakov can pass the puck through tight passing lanes. He can also use his lateral movement and quick stickhandling to create those passing lanes. Iskhakov attacks the middle of the ice with the puck on his stick. He loves to take on a defender in a 0ne-on-one situation and cut to the dangerous areas of the ice to make plays.

Iskhakov can also score goals. He needs to add power to his wrist shot, but he has a very quick release that can fool goalies. As a result, the majority of his goals come in close to the net. Despite his lack of size, he is not afraid to go to the net and can score with quick hands. He pounces on rebounds and also can put the puck in tight space. Iskhakov is a hard worker in the corners but his lack of size limits his effectiveness in this area of the ice.

Defensive Game

Iskhakov also brings his work ethic to the defensive end of the ice. He takes good angles and supports the defence with backpressure against the rush. He is good at poke-checking an opponent and stealing the puck from them. While he is willing to support the defence down low and play against the cycle, his lack of size and strength is a bit of a liability against bigger opponents. When there is a turnover or loose puck, Iskhakov’s quickness help him to get to the puck and quickly transition to offence.

Outlook

Iskhakov is playing for Adler Manheim in the German league this season. He had a strong start to the campaign with three goals in four Champions Hockey League games. However, a foot injury has taken him out of the lineup recently. It is not supposed to be serious and he should be back in a couple of weeks. Iskhakov has not yet signed with the Islanders and is looking to impress the team and earn his first NHL contract in the Spring. If signed, he could finish the year in the AHL after the German season is done.

#10 Prospect: Tristan Lennox

Goaltender — shoots Left
Born October 21st, 2002 — Cambridge, Ontario
Height 6’4″ — Weight 190 lbs [193 cm/86 kg]
Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 3rd round, #93 overall, at the 2021 NHL Draft

With the OHL season never getting started last year, Lennox lost a key season of development. However, he showed enough in 2019-20 for the Islanders to pick in him in the third round of the NHL Draft. In 33 games with Saginaw, Lennox put up a 20-8-3 record with a 3.63 goals-against-average and .876 save percentage. He also played for Team Canada at the Hlinka, putting up an 0.95 goals-against-average and .951 save percentage in three appearances. He helped the Canadian team to a silver medal.

Skating and Talent Analysis

Coming in at 6-foot-4, Lennox has the type of ideal size that NHL teams are looking for in goalie prospects now. He makes the most of that size by playing at the top of his crease and taking away the space shooters see. However, he will need to be more consistent with his angles, as he is sometimes a little off and gives the shooter too much to look at. Lennox is a good skater though, and is able to come out and cut down those angles as he is difficult to deke. He backs up quickly and takes away those opportunities. Lennox tracks the puck well and his powerful legs help him get across the crease quickly if an opponent tries a cross-ice pass.

Lennox already has decent rebound control, something many young goalies struggle with. He is good at kicking shots to the corners and out of danger, or absorbing them and not giving up a rebound. His strong legs allow him to get in and out of the butterfly quickly, taking away the bottom of the net. His size means that he still covers the top of the net, even when down on his knees. Lennox is talented with both his glove and blocker.

Puckhandling

Lennox also acts like a third defenceman with his puckhandling skills. His skating allows him to get out of the net and pick up dump-ins and start the breakout. Lennox can also make long passes to create a scoring chance if he catches an opponent on a line change.

Mental Makeup

Cool and composed in the net, it is hard to rattle Lennox. He deals with traffic and a heavy workload well but also stays focused when his team is controlling the play in the opposing end and has to come up with saves after long periods of inactivity. Lennox is a natural leader on the ice and teammates look to him for support. He understands the game and will cover up for a line change if his teammates have been out on a long shift, but will keep it moving and try to push the transition if he feels the opponent is vulnerable.

Outlook

Goalie development is difficult but Lennox has all the skills necessary to become a number one goalie in the NHL. Of course, he will need to work on his game and move up the ranks, facing harder shots and better players at each step along the way. Lennox should be back with Saginaw, finishing his OHL career this season. Expect him to move up to Bridgeport in 2022-23. With a strong start to the OHL season, he could compete for a spot on Canada’s World Junior Team as he was one of five goalies invited to summer camp.

 

Sleeper Prospect: Blade Jenkins

Left Wing — shoots Left
Born August 11th, 2000 — Jackson, Michigan
Height 6’1″ — Weight 195 lbs [185 cm/88 kg]
Drafted by the New York Islanders in the 5th round, #134 overall, at the 2018 NHL Draft.

Jenkins had his first pro season. In 13 games with the Bridgeport Islanders, he put up two goals and four points.

Skating

There have been some knocks on Jenkins skating but it is not as bad as advertised. There are still some things to work on though. Once he gets moving, Jenkins has decent speed, though he seems to need a few extra strides to reach that speed. His first step could also be a bit quicker. Jenkins stride is powerful, and he has good lower body strength. He can fight through checks to drive to the net and is difficult to knock off the puck. Jenkins also can win his board battles and create a presence in front of the net. His agility and edgework are decent, as he can weave his way through traffic with and without the puck. It is not at the level to beat a lot of defenders one-on-one though.

Offensive Skills

Jenkins plays a power-forward style of game. He is quick to get in on the forecheck and can hammer a defenceman into the boards. He pressures defenders into mistakes and can pounce when they do. He is willing to aggressively drive to the front of the net both with and without the puck. Jenkins uses his body to protect the puck down low on the cycle game and make plays. He is willing to try a number of creative passes, through tight areas. However, Jenkins has a tendency to try and do too much, and can often give the puck away on a play that is not there.

Jenkins has a hard and accurate wrist shot. He could stand to shoot more often as his shot and quick release can fool goaltenders. However, he seems to want to be more of a passer than a shooter. He also has a decent backhand, especially in close to the net. Jenkins can get to the front of the net and create havoc for goalies.

Defensive Skills

Jenkins brings his physicality to his own end of the ice. He is aggressive on the back check and loves to throw hits. However, he can sometimes be too aggressive, and this gets him out of position. Jenkins is always looking for the big play, and there are times he needs to slow the game down and let it come to him.

Projection and Comparison

Jenkins has played centre at times in junior hockey, but it definitely looks like his future is on the wing. It allows him to simplify his game and focus on the things that he does well. While there is some versatility, Jenkins projects as a winger at the pro level. The skating and defensive concerns are likely to push him to that spot. He could be a bit of a project, but Jenkins could be a middle six contributor with good size and skill in time. He needs more time in the AHL this season.

 

Other 2021 New York Islanders Prospects

The Islanders recently had one of the best prospect groups in hockey. However, they have graduated a lot of those players and as the team has improved, they have been picking much later in the draft. This means that the team will need to build their system up again. They got a real steal in the 2021 Draft with Aatu Raty and that is a great start for them. They will need to hope that one or two of their under-the-radar prospects hits though.

In goal, the Islanders also have Jakub Skarek and Henrik Tikkanen. Defence prospects to watch include Ben Mirageas, Mitchell Vande Sompel, Parker Wotherspoon, and Christian Krygier. Forwards to keep an eye on include Reece Newkirk, Alex Jefferies, Logan Cockerill, Alexander Ljungkrantz, Matias Rajaniemi, Jake Pivonka, Cole Coskey, and Felix Bibeau.

 

2021 New York Islanders Prospects Main Photo:

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 28: New York Islanders Center Aatu Raty (61) controls the puck during the second period of the National Hockey League game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers on September 28, 2021 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)