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Ranking the New York Islanders' Top 10 Prospects

Jonathan WillisNHL National ColumnistSeptember 4, 2014

Ranking the New York Islanders' Top 10 Prospects

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The New York Islanders catch a lot of flak for a rebuild that seemingly never ends, but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel.

    It starts with a young core led by superstar John Tavares. That group was augmented with key veterans in what was a busy summer for the team. There's even more help on the way, as the Islanders boast a deep and capable prospect group that was bolstered by the addition of No. 5 overall pick Michael Dal Colle in June. 

    The following slideshow ranks the team's 10 best Calder-eligible prospects (so don't look for players like Ryan Strome, whose eligibility has come and gone) and provides capsule scouting reports. Prospects are primarily ranked based on their potential NHL ceiling, but the amount of risk involved in that projection is also a significant factor in this list.

10. Adam Pelech

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    Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

    Profile: Pelech has size and exceptional smarts. The 6'2" defenceman was nearly a point-per-game player in the OHL last season despite the fact that his best attribute is his play in his own end of the rink. He does just about everything well, but poor skating may hold him back as a pro. 

    Risk factor: We'll have a better idea of Pelech's true ability once we see if he's capable of handling major league speed. 

    NHL projection: Second-pair defenceman. 

9. Andrey Pedan

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Profile: Pedan isn't just big (6'4", 200-plus pounds); he's mean. That's a nice combination for a defenceman, and his virtues don't end there. Pedan was a significant offensive contributor at the junior level and boasts a hard shot and decent playmaking vision. 

    Risk factor: Pedan missed significant time to injury in 2013-14; he didn't play for nearly three months at any level, and that will be something to watch. Otherwise, he's progressing nicely. 

    NHL projection: Top-four defenceman. 

8. Sebastian Collberg

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    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Profile: A key part of the return for Thomas Vanek, Collberg did not progress as expected in 2013-14. Supposedly skilled offensively, his production took a step back in Sweden's top league and at the world junior level. He has time and talent, but he's not moving the right way. 

    Risk factor: A year ago, Collberg would have been seen as less of a risk than he is now. 

    NHL projection: Middle-six forward. 

7. Scott Mayfield

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Profile: Another big defenceman who plays with an edge, Mayfield has progressed nicely since being taken early in the 2011 draft, emerging as a strong AHL option as a rookie pro and even earning a five-game NHL recall. He's not a natural with the puck but may be able to carve out a role as a nasty (and mobile) shutdown option. 

    Risk factor: He's a pretty low risk to play; the question is how high on an NHL depth chart he'll ultimately be able to rise. 

    NHL projection: Second-pair defenceman. 

6. Josh Ho-Sang

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Profile: Ho-Sang combines speed with exceptional offensive talent and a greasy style of game but fell at the 2014 draft amid reports that his attitude needed to improve. He's also a little undersized for professional hockey (5'11", 175 pounds) but the diminutive forward plays all-out anyway. 

    Risk factor: He's a classic boom-or-bust prospect. 

    NHL projection: Top-six forward.

5. Ryan Pulock

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Profile: Pulock was drafted as an offensive defenceman and came close to the point-per-game mark in junior last season. He's also learning to add a little bit of bite to his defensive game, but his decision-making needs to improve. 

    Risk factor: Pulock has a lot going for him and is well-regarded; there isn't a ton of risk in projecting him to have an NHL career.

    NHL projection: Top-four defenceman. 

4. Ville Pokka

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Profile: The quality that sets Pokka apart from the pack is his intelligence; he's just an extremely smart two-way defender. He's a little on the small side (6'0", 200 pounds) for his position, but that doesn't prevent him from playing a smart and even aggressive defensive game. His offensive tools are quite good, and last year he was a pretty big point-producer in Finland's top league. His skating needs to improve. 

    Risk factor: It's going to be interesting to see how Pokka adapts to North America; until he does, all the usual quibbles about Europeans adjusting to the smaller rink and the quicker game apply.  

    NHL projection: Top-four defenceman. 

3. Anders Lee

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Profile: Lee is a hard player to peg. He's a little on the old side (24 years of age), particularly for a forward prospect, and he won't win too many footraces in the majors. But he's also 6'2", 225 pounds and capable of scoring. Lee impressed in an NHL cameo last year and scored at a nice clip in the minors.

    Risk factor: He's already an NHLer; the question now is how high he climbs. 

    NHL projection: Middle-six forward. 

2. Griffin Reinhart

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Profile: The fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft was projected as a big defender with offensive ability and a two-way player in the mould of Alexander Edler. He's still big and fast, and he's had success as an elite shutdown defender in the WHL, but the offence is missing. His scoring has fallen off in each of the two seasons since he was drafted. 

    Risk factor: The vast majority of a defenceman's game isn't reflected in point totals, but at this point it seems safe to say that New York probably isn't going to get the player it thought it drafted. Still, Reinhart's physical tools should mean he plays. 

    NHL projection: Top-four defenceman. 

1. Michael Dal Colle

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Profile: Dal Colle is an excellent skater with good size at 6'2" and a sniper's scoring touch; it's easy to see him in the Islanders system and project him playing on John Tavares' wing. Obviously, there is a lot of development ahead of him, but he has a nicely balanced set of skills and intriguing offensive upside. 

    Risk factor: Aside from his age, there isn't any particular reason for worry. 

    NHL projection: First-line forward.

     

    Statistics courtesy of EliteProspects.com, unless otherwise noted. The Hockey NewsRed Line Report (subscription required) and HockeyProspectus.com were consulted in writing profiles.

    Jonathan Willis covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for more of his work.

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