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Draft Preview: New York Islanders – When alma matters

The New York Islanders tend to like the look of prospects who hit the books on college campuses.

Under new GM Lou Lamoriello, the Islanders’ 2018 draft had a distinctly college feel to it, with half of their eight picks being NCAA commits and another (Bode Wilde) decommitting the week before the draft. Top selection Oliver Wahlstrom left Boston College after one season to sign with New York. Lamoriello, of course, got his career started at Providence College in 1968.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: The Isles are in good shape now, but they could use another high-end sniper. Anders Lee couldn’t match his 40-goal output from 2017-18, and no one else hit 30 goals. Mathew Barzal is an elite playmaker who can mint a winger with a lot of tallies, but who is that winger? Lee is one, but someone else needs to emerge, too.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: Much of the Islanders’ core is nearing 30 or has already surpassed that plateau. Simply put, the team needs to get younger in the coming years, and that means candidates stepping up. Wahlstrom, Wilde, Noah Dobson, Kieffer Bellows, Devon Toews and, as per usual, Josh Ho-Sang, are options, but they have to prove themselves.

CAP SITUATION: It’s going to be a big summer for Lamoriello, as three of his top offensive weapons and his starting goaltender are pending UFAs. Luckily, New York has more than $30 million in cap space to play with. Lee, Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle are the forwards in need of new deals, while Robin Lehner is the stopper. Lehner in particular will be an interesting case study, as he far outplayed his $1.5-million stipend. Anthony Beauvillier is the key RFA.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: A pair of Finns are the most likely to make noise, as big left winger Otto Koivula was a top scorer for AHL Bridgeport in his rookie season. Defenseman Sebastian Aho has already logged NHL games for the Isles, and he’s another option to crack the roster.

DID YOU KNOW: Ilya Sorokin, ranked No. 41 in Future Watch 2019, has been stingy in his young KHL career. His “worst” goals-against average was 2.03 in the 2017 playoffs for CSKA Moscow, and he’s made appearances since 2014-15.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Frans Nielsen, 87th, ’02
Jared Spurgeon, 156th, ’08
Anders Lee, 152nd, ’09
Casey Cizikas, 92nd, ’09
Andrew MacDonald, 160th, ’06
Matt Martin, 148th, ’08
Bruno Gervais, 182nd, ’03
Chris Campoli, 227th, ’04
Adam Pelech, 65th, ’12
Anders Nilsson, 62nd, ’09

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 111
100+ NHL GAMES: 10
PERCENT SUCCESS: 9.0%
NHL RANK: 27th

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