A- / 4th overall
The New York Islanders have emerged as the surprise team of the NHL this season, their first under the adult supervision of two Stanley Cup winners, team president/GM Lou Lamoriello and coach Barry Trotz. The accomplished duo’s overhaul of the organizational culture has impacted every level, including a prospect base that was boosted by the No. 11 and 12 overall draft picks in 2018, shortly after Lamoriello took over from maligned predecessor Garth Snow. With a nod to Snow’s drafting and acquisitions of high-end picks, Lamoriello categorized the Isles’ prospect pool as “extremely strong” with “depth at every position.”
1. Noah Dobson (1oth overall)
D, 19, 6-4, 184 – Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
2018 draft, 12th overall
The two-way blueliner gained valuable big-game experience during Acadie-Bathurst’s run to the Memorial Cup title in 2018. A plummet to last place – and correspondingly poor personal numbers – led to Dobson’s trade to first-place Rouyn-Noranda. “Now he’s on another team that has a chance for a (post-season) run,” Lamoriello said. “He’s a complete player, he has offensive and defensive skills, and there’s no question he got drafted where he should have. We’re glad he was available.”
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2020-21
2. Oliver Wahlstrom (31st overall)
RW, 18, 6-2, 209 – Boston College (HE)
2018 draft, 11th overall
One pick earlier, the Isles nabbed sniper Wahlstrom, who has stuck out in his freshman year despite rumors in November he’d considered leaving school following a slow start. He scored just twice in his first 10 NCAA appearances, then started heating up. “People underestimate how difficult college is – he’s an 18-year-old playing with guys 21 and 22,” Lamoriello said. “His progress has been outstanding. He’s playing for a great program and a great coach in Jerry York.”
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2021-22
3. Ilya Sorokin (41st overall)
G, 23, 6-2, 170 – CSKA Moscow (KHL)
GP 40, 1.16, .940
2014 draft, 78th overall
New York unexpectedly received star-level goaltending from free-agent Robin Lehner and holdover Thomas Greiss, but the ultra-athletic Sorokin is still the future. Using top-end quickness and mobility, he’s posted cartoonish numbers (.930 career SP) over four full seasons in the KHL. He is signed through 2020, but the Isles would love to get him to North America as soon as possible. “He’s proven year-in and year-out that he has the potential to be an elite goalie,” Lamoriello said.
FW18| No. 2 – NHL | 2020-21
4. Bode Wilde (57th overall)
D, 19, 6-3, 190 – Saginaw (OHL)
2018 draft, 41st overall
Like Wahlstrom, Wilde is a product of the U.S. National Team Development Program, but he chose major junior over college. He projected as a first-round pick before sliding to the second after teams were concerned with his hockey sense. The offense is there and he has a projectable frame. The Isles believe the rest will come. “He’s been working hard on his defensive game, too,” Lamoriello said. “He’s having an outstanding year. He’s progressed at both ends.”
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2022-23
5. Kieffer Bellows (93rd overall)
LW, 20, 6-1, 195 – Bridgeport (AHL)
2016 draft, 19th overall
The son of 485-goal scorer Brian Bellows has endured growing pains in his first pro year, but the Islanders have seen progress. “He’s developing his skating and overall game,” Lamoriello said. Though he’s played well enough for an NHL look, the time isn’t right. “He’s a top-six forward, and if he’s not going to get the minutes here, he’s better off getting them there.” Bellows has the attributes of a power forward and a dose of leadership skills as well. He also thrives under pressure.
FW18| No. 1 – NHL | 2019-20
6. Devon Toews
D, 25, 6-1, 191 – Bridgeport (AHL)
2014 draft, 108th overall
After two injury-plagued years, speedster has looked sharp during NHL recall.
7. Otto Koivula
C, 20, 6-4, 220 – Bridgeport (AHL)
2016 draft, 120th overall
Finn has opened eyes with smooth transition to center in rookie North American year.
8. Sebastian Aho
D, 23, 5-11, 177 – Bridgeport (AHL)
2017 draft, 139th overall
The mobile D-man provides depth in minors after 22-game NHL taste late last season.
9. Linus Soderstrom
G, 22, 6-5, 195 – HV71 (Swe.)
has not played
2014 draft, 95th overall
Future uncertain after groin and shoulder injuries wiped out much of two seasons.
10. Michael Dal Colle
LW, 22, 6-2, 198 – Bridgeport (AHL)
2014 draft, 5th overall
Once-projected top-six forward is contributing, albeit mostly in a checking role.