30 in 30 New York Islanders

Brent

2016-07-20

NYI

It has been an eventful offseason in Brooklyn, and the Islanders will ice a very different roster in 2016-17. While free agent signings Andrew Ladd, Jason Chimera and Pierre-Alexander Parenteau will help the Islanders in competing next season, the team has also done a lot to set themselves up for longer term success.

Draft Recap

The Isles went into the 2016 NHL Draft weekend in Buffalo a little light on picks. While they still had their first rounder, they had already traded their second and third round selections to add roster pieces (Johnny Boychuk and Shane Prince, respectively). With only one pick in the top 90, Garth Snow and company made some unorthodox choices with the team’s later round picks in an attempt to find value. This strategy led to the addition of a lot of skill to the prospect pool.

1st Round (19th Overall) – Kieffer Bellows, U.S. National Development Program (USDP)

The Islanders added to their stable of impressive forward prospects by selecting Kieffer Bellows, one of the best pure goals scorers in the draft. Bellows became only the second player in the history of the U.S. National U18 team to score 50 goals in a single USDP season. He also added a very respectable 16 goals and 32 points in 26 games for the USNTDP Junior team that competes in the USHL.

Bellows has a knack for getting open, and has a good enough shot to take advantage when his teammates find him in space. He thrived at the U18 World Championships playing with Coyotes’ first rounder Clayton Keller. He could look awfully good on Mathew Barzal’s wing in a few seasons. Bellows has committed to Boston University, and figures to be one of the top freshmen in the NCAA next year. It is not difficult to imagine him as a mainstay on the Islanders roster by the 2018-19 season.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Kautonen also said on Kieffer Bellows: &quot;Similar to Barzal at 16 last year, we were shocked Kieffer was there at 19. We had him much higher.&quot;</p>&mdash; Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) <a href="https://twitter.com/StapeNewsday/status/746759759081181185">June 25, 2016</a></blockquote>

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Highlights of Bellows from the 2016 U18 World Championships in Grand Forks:

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4th Round (95th Overall) – Anatoli Golyshev, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (KHL)

The Islanders, having sat out rounds two and three, decided to make a deal to move up to 95th overall spot. The price for this pick was the 110th overall pick in the 2016 draft and a 6th round pick in 2017. The Isles promptly selected Anatoli Golyshev, who was the fourth leading goal scorer in the KHL in 2015-16. Golyshev was born in February of 1995, meaning he had been passed up in three drafts prior to being selected by New York. He drew the attention of scouts this past year with his 25 goal season for Avtomobilist. To put that number in perspective, Alexander Radulov has only managed to net 25 goals one time in his eight campaigns in Russia. However, it should be noted that Golyshev was assisted by an 18.7% shooting percentage in 2015-16, a rate he is unlikely to replicate going forward.

A lot of the intrigue surrounding Golyshev has to do with his age.  As an older prospect, he will require less development time before challenging for a roster spot. He will return to the KHL for the 2016-17 season, and has a contract with Avtomobilist that runs until 2019. However, the Islanders have expressed optimism that he could be bought out by the end of next year. Whenever Golyshev comes over, Bridgeport will be adding a skilled playmaker who can be nightmare for opposing defenders to contain.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Isles?src=hash">#Isles</a> scouting director Velli-Pekka Kautonen on 4th rder Anatoli Golyshev: &quot;The Russian papers call him the best unknown player in Russia.&quot;</p>&mdash; Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) <a href="https://twitter.com/StapeNewsday/status/746759209291743232">June 25, 2016</a></blockquote>

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Highlights from Golyshev’s breakout KHL campaign:

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4th Round (120th Overall) – Otto Koivula, Ilves U20 (Junior A SM-liiga)

Garth Snow acquired an additional fourth rounder from Philadelphia in exchange for New York’s own fourth in 2017, and used it to select Otto Koivula from Finland. Koivula spent his entire draft-eligible season in the top Finnish junior league, where he put up 26 goals and 58 points in 49 regular season games. It is difficult to compare those numbers with other top flight Finnish talent of recent memory (Laine, Puljujarvi, Aho, Rantanen, Kapanen, Barkov, etc.) because that group all spent their draft years playing with men in the Liiga. Still, there is reason to think that the Islanders did very well with this pick. First, Koivula ranked third in points per game amongst all players drafted out of the Junior A SM-liiga in 2016.  He ranked behind only Kasper Bjorkqvist and Henrik Borgstrom, who were drafted 61st and 23rd overall, respectively. Further, Bjorkqvist and Borgstrom were both in their second year of draft eligibility and are both over a year older than Koivula. In fact, Koivula was one of the youngest players selected in the draft. If he was born two weeks later, he would not have been eligible until 2017. That makes his numbers even more impressive. 

Koivula may be more of a project than Golyshev, especially when it comes to his skating. But with his scoring ability and size (already 6-4, 220), it is easy to see why the Islanders sacrificed their fourth in 2017 to get him.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Isles?src=hash">#Isles</a> select Otto Koivula. Big forward with soft hands and a heavy shot. Can drive to the net. Skating needs work, but has high upside.</p>&mdash; Finnish Prospects (@FINjrhockey) <a href="https://twitter.com/FINjrhockey/status/746734866402844673">June 25, 2016</a></blockquote>

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Here is Koivula showing off his hands and reach at development camp with a silky move to his backhand:

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Isles?src=hash">#Isles</a> 4th round pick Otto Koivula with a slick shootout goal from last night <a href="https://t.co/eTGKm1xVLt">pic.twitter.com/eTGKm1xVLt</a></p>&mdash; Alex Peck (@AlexPeckWTOP) <a href="https://twitter.com/AlexPeckWTOP/status/748572210953134080">June 30, 2016</a></blockquote>

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6th Round (170th Overall) – Collin Adams, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Collin Adams was the seventh and final USHL forward taken who was drafted in their first year of eligibility. However, amongst that group, Adams finished behind only Cameron Morrison (40th overall) and Wade Allison (52nd overall) in terms of even strength primary points per game. That means that Adams had better 5-on-5 production than Dallas’ first rounder Riley Tufte and Carolina’s third round pick Matt Filipe, to name a few. 

Based on that, it would appear that the Islanders got good value for a 6th rounder. However, one USHL scout I reached out to was not sold:

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I thought Collin Adams was going to have a huge breakout year for MUS this year after watching him with Honeybaked. Was just ok this year</p>&mdash; Andrew Weiss (@WeissFC) <a href="https://twitter.com/WeissFC/status/746747355483930624">June 25, 2016</a></blockquote>

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When I asked Andrew for a bit more information, he offered this response:

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/brent_craswell">@brent_craswell</a> At Honeybaked he looked poised to be a guy who could dominate the league. Most of the viewings he was just another guy</p>&mdash; Andrew Weiss (@WeissFC) <a href="https://twitter.com/WeissFC/status/755500833127604225">July 19, 2016</a></blockquote>

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Andrew also postulated that Adams’ point totals may have been inflated by playing on a line with Rem Pitlick, who was taken in the third round by Nashville in his second year of eligibility.

Adams is headed to the University of North Dakota next season. We will get a better sense of what kind of player he is when he confronts stiffer competition in the NCAA.

 

7th Round (193rd Overall) – Nick Pastujov, U.S. National Development Program (USDP)

Pastujov was a prospect who had a bit of hype coming into the season. In 2014-15, he managed an admirable 11 points in 28 USHL games while playing against opponents three years his senior. However, Pastujov was never able to get it going in his draft year. He managed only eight points in 21 USHL games for the USNTDP Junior team, which was tied for 18th in team scoring. In USDP play, he recorded 21 points in 60 games, good for 19th on the team. Pastujov salvaged his season with three goals at the U18 World Championships, and the Islanders must have liked what they saw at that tournament enough to justify taking a flier on him. He will attend the University of Michigan in the fall, where he will likely stay for four years.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Nick Pastujov to the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/isles?src=hash">#isles</a> at 193 is a nice pick-up. Hardworking forward with some untapped offense</p>&mdash; Zachary DeVine (@zakkthebear) <a href="https://twitter.com/zakkthebear/status/746756166714155008">June 25, 2016</a></blockquote>

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7th Round (200th Overall) – David Quenneville, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)

The Nashville Predators have (rightfully) been receiving a great deal of praise for picking up Samuel Girard in the second round. The common refrain is that Girard has first round talent, but fell in the draft because of his size. The script is exactly the same for David Quenneville.

Considering that there were over 150 players selected between Girard and Quenneville, their offensive numbers are fairly similar:

Player

Even Strength Primary Points / Game

Power Play Primary Points / Game

Total Primary Points / Game

Samuel Girard

 

0.239

0.388

0.627

David Quenneville

 

0.281

0.297

0.578

 

As you can see, Quenneville actually outperformed Girard at even strength, but Girard’s power play prowess propelled him above Quenneville in total production. However, the important caveat here is that Girard accomplished this surrounded by a very sound team in Shawinigan, who made it all the way to the QMJHL final. Quenneville’s Tigers, for their part, fell in a tiebreaker game to Edmonton for the final playoff spot in the WHL.

This is not to say Girard and Quenneville are identical players. Yes, the trademark of both their games is their pinpoint outlet passes, but Quenneville cannot match Girard’s skating ability, his evasiveness, or his poise with the puck. And Girard does not possess Quenneville’s surprisingly heavy point shot or his inclination towards physicality. But the point is, Quenneville possesses as much offensive upside as Girard, and the Isles were able to get the former in the 7th round.

In the end, both men will deal with the same question throughout their development: can their offensive skillsets offset the inevitable difficulties they will have containing larger NHL forward in front of the net? That remains to be seen.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Glad someone took David Quenneville. Tiny, but man is he a fun player to watch. Worth giving him a shot to see if he can overcome it.</p>&mdash; OHL Prospects (@BrockOtten) <a href="https://twitter.com/BrockOtten/status/746756309199032321">June 25, 2016</a></blockquote>

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Here is Quenneville at the 2016 IIHF U-18 in Grand Forks, where he finished as the tournament’s top scoring defender:

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Development Camp

The Islanders held their development camp the week after the draft wrapped. The highlight of the camp was a tournament featuring three 20 minute, 4-on-4 scrimmages. All of the Islanders top prospects were in attendance, including goaltender Ilya Sorokin, who was making his first appearance at a development camp. Unfortunately for the fans, Mathew Barzal was held out of the scrimmage for precautionary reasons, and new picks Golyshev and Pastujov were not available either.

New York invited over 20 undrafted players to participate in the week. The standout in the scrimmages was St. Cloud State defenseman Jimmy Schuldt, who registered four goals from in his two games. Last season, Schuldt led all freshmen defensemen with ten goals, and led all NCAA defensemen in plus minus. He will have NHL suitors whenever he decides to leave college, and New York has ingratiated itself to Schuldt with this development camp invitation.

As far as drafted prospects go, Josh Ho-Sang led the way in the scrimmages with three assists, and Anthony Beauvillier picked up a goal and an assist. Sorokin was also as advertised, posting a shutout in his first game.

Clips of some of the goals and saves from the scrimmages can be seen here:

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Isles?src=hash">#Isles</a> prospects competed in the annual Blue &amp; White Scrimmage at <a href="https://twitter.com/NHIceCenter">@NHIceCenter</a>. Highlights: <a href="https://t.co/eZcf2trZOo">https://t.co/eZcf2trZOo</a><a href="https://t.co/7kC1xT6epv">https://t.co/7kC1xT6ep