Hello fellow Islander fans and welcome to the first installment of the new weekly prospect column here on IslesBlog. Now I am aware that many of you are scratching your heads asking “Who is this guy, and where did he come from?” If you didn’t catch the very hush announcement of my signing here at IslesBlog at the conclusion of the last episode of PTIsles, I approached Islesblog in an attempt to secure a Professional Tryout Agreement (commonly referred to as a PTO) in order to resurrect my writing career. After my PTO expired, it was decision time. I am pleased to announce that I have secured a role here on the big squad and will join the likes of Connor, Joe, Brittany, Anthony, and Thomas to bring you the best content I possibly can. As many of the prospects that have come before me have said, “I’d like to thank the management at IslesBlog for their faith in me and I cannot wait to contribute to the success of this franchise!”
Alright all jokes aside, I assure you the process that led me to this moment were much less exciting than our prospects road to the NHL Draft and beyond, but hey, a man can dream right?
Now down to business. My goal of this column is to bring the average Islander fan an update on the weekly performances of prospects within the Islander’s organization as well as the prospects that will be selected in the 2015 NHL Draft, which is set for June 26-27th located at the BB&T Center, home of the Florida Panthers. I will bring you important updates on both prospects playing with the Islander’s professional affiliates as well as those playing overseas and in Canada. I believe that prospects are an integral part of an organization and the average fan may not be aware of the potential that is within the franchise waiting for their turn. I also believe that American fans especially are not as aware of the prospects that aren’t named McDavid and Eichel as they should be approaching the draft to really understand which players may fit your favorite team.
Because this is the first edition of this column, I will be sticking to fan-favorite and more known prospects.
Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Dal Colle, the 5th overall pick in last year’s draft, is putting together an impressive season with 61 points (26G,35A) and sits in 8th among the OHL’s top scorers at the season’s halfway point. With that said, he is set to surpass his previous high of 95 points (39G,56A) easily, provided he can stay healthy. This week, Dal Colle played 4 games, racking up 5 points on 3 goals and 2 assists, helping the Oshawa Generals remain the top ranked team in all of Canadian junior hockey. In my opinion, we will be seeing Dal Colle force his way into the Islander’s roster during the 2016-2017 campaign, following a long, hard look next preseason. He is the answer to the rotating door that is the first line Left Wing slot, with very good size and scoring ability. Dal Colle is the last player your New York Islanders will be selecting in the lottery for years to come.
Josh Ho-Sang, RW, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Ho-Sang, one of the most flashy and outspoken players in last year’s draft, was selected 28th overall by the Islanders following a trade with Tampa Bay to move up on the draft board. Personally, he was one of my favorite players in last year’s draft and I am glad to have him in the organization. In 36 games this season, he has 9 goals and 40 assists for 49 points. Although his goal total seems to be low this season after netting 32 goals last season, his point production is still there and he is still on pace to pass last year’s total of 85 points. This week Ho-Sang produced 3 points in 3 games with 1 goal and 2 assists. Although he has caught quite a lot of bad press for his attitude and over-confidence, I am not at all concerned that his character will affect his career with this organization in any way. He most likely will not be skating on NHL ice within the next 3 years, however I am excited to see how his development and skills progress.
Griffin Reinhart, D, Bridgeport Soundtigers (AHL)
Approaching the end of the past offseason, Reinhart looked like he would become an everyday defenseman for the Islanders, until one of the greatest days in Islander’s history shocked the hockey world, of course. Because of the acquisition of Destroychuk and Ledpipe, Reinhart was only able to secure himself a cup of coffee early in the season. I think he looked pretty good, however I do not think he is ready to be a mainstay on the Islander blue line. Because of this, Reinhart has played 27 games for the Soundtigers, the Islander’s AHL affiliate. He has produced 12 points on 3 goals and 9 assists. Reinhart is a stay-at-home type defenseman that will not ever produce a large sum of points, so this is not at all concerning. What does concern me however is the fact that in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft, which was stacked with defensemen, there are 5 players selected after Reinhart who are now playing with their NHL clubs and making a positive impact. That group includes Morgan Reilly (TOR 5th overall), Hampus Lindholm (ANA 6th overall), Jacob Trouba (WPG 9th overall), Cody Ceci (OTT 15th overall), Olli Maatta (PIT 22nd overall). I do believe Reinhart will reach the level he needs to in order to be an every night blueliner with a season of experience in the AHL, and with the Islanders in the position they currently are I am not worried about the extra development.
Ryan Pulock, D, Bridgeport Soundtigers (AHL)
Pulock is the shining star of the Bridgeport Soundtigers, as he was named to the 2015 AHL All Star game as he is tied for the lead in goals among AHL defensemen with 12. He will not be participating in the game however as he is currently sidelined with an apparent shoulder injury. He will be sidelined for some time; however he does not require surgery, which is great news for the rookie professional in overcoming the first bump in the road of his pro career. Pulock has a cannon of a slap shot and has always been known for his ability to score goals from the blue line. He has added 5 assists to his 12 goals for a respectable 17 points in 29 games prior to being sidelined. I believe that Pulock is quickly bypassing Griffin Reinhart as the organization’s best defensive prospect and I would not be surprised if he makes the team over Reinhart next year due to his offensive upside. The injury to Pulock will give Reinhart some breathing room for now, but if Pulock can rebound successfully, there will be some serious competition between the two young defensemen in the future.
As the draft approaches, you can expect a number of draft prospect profiles included in my column, however with the Islanders not set to select until the third round as Garth Snow has the tendency to use draft picks as “fun coupons” (no complaints this time around).