With the 2012-2013 NHL season set to begin on January 19th, teams will have some tough decisions to make regarding which players will and won’t make the cut in time for opening night.
The New York Islanders will have some decisions of their own to make when getting ready to drop the puck on their season in late January, and there are certainly questions as to which prospects the Isles might bring on board after training camp comes to an end.
Lubomir Visnovsky’s decision to stay with HC Slovan and play out the rest of his hockey season in the KHL will have various ramifications on New York’s defensive core, but Islanders executives will also be forced to take a look at offensive players such as Ryan Strome as he has been putting on quite a show in the OHL during the 2012-2013 hockey season.
Aside from Strome, players such as John Persson and David Ullstrom will certainly be on the Isles’ radar, but it will be up to these players to have a strong training camp (if invited) in order to secure a roster spot with the big club.
Here’s a look at some of the players that fans should be monitoring:
New York’s Offensive Pipeline
5.) John Persson – Persson has been one of the Sound Tigers’ best players over the course of the 2012-2013 AHL season.
In 30 games played for Bridgeport this season, Persson has recorded 20 points (13 Goals, 7 Assists) and has almost 70 shots on goal in that span. Persson is a product of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft as the Islanders selected him with the 125th overall pick in the fifth round of the draft.
Seeing as how Persson has been gradually improving his game with the Sound Tigers, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Swedish forward get an invite to training camp. With the Islanders losing P.A Parenteau to free agency during the off-season, Persson might be one of the young offensive players that will be given a chance to prove their worth at the NHL level.
4.) Johan Sundstrom – Sundstrom was one of two Islanders prospects that represented the team at the 2012 WJHC tournament. Sundstrom put in quite an effort for Team Sweden in 2012 and the center has duplicated that success at the AHL level this season.
Sundstrom, Ullstrom, and Persson have combined to form one of the Sound Tigers’ most effective lines this season and Sundstrom as literally been at the center of that success.
In 34 games played with Bridgeport, Sundstrom has registered 23 points (9 Goals, 14 Assists) and has almost 80 shots on goal to go along with his point totals. Sundstrom is a well rounded center that is also very versatile as he can play comfortably on the wing, something that could undoubtedly help the Islanders. The Swedish center might not be a shoe-in for a training camp invite, but he is certainly doing everything that he can to prove that the Islanders made the right move when they drafted him in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
3.) Nino Niederreiter – Islanders fans are probably well aware of the season that El Nino had with the Islanders during the 2011-2012 NHL season. Despite the fact that Niederreiter did not have a memorable season with the Isles last year, the forward will be determined to put his shortcomings into the rear-view mirror sooner rather than later.
So far this season, Niederreiter has been a point per game player in the AHL with the Sound Tigers. In 33 games, El Nino has scored 17 goals and has dished out 16 assists. While there is no accurate measure that will determine how well Niederreiter will play at an NHL level if he makes the Isles’ opening night roster, his play in Bridgeport has to be a sign of encouragement for Islanders fans and executives.
The Islanders have a bunch of prospects that are looking to prove themselves at an NHL level, but Niederreiter probably leads the pack as the forward will be determined to show that his 2011-2012 season with the Isles was an anomaly.
2.) David Ullstrom –In 23 games this season at the AHL level, Ullstrom has registered 16 points (4 Goals, 12 Assists) and is
doing everything he can to earn himself an invite to training camp.
For the last three seasons, Ullstrom has put up significant point totals for the Sound Tigers and has been working his way up to the NHL. A fourth round pick for the Isles during the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Ullstrom enjoyed a healthy stint with the big club during the 2011-2012 NHL season. In 29 games with the Islanders last season, Ullstrom managed to put up 8 points (4 Goals, 4 Assists) and even registered forty shots on goal.
David Ullstrom might not be a forward that racks up assists by the boatload, but he is certainly a gifted scorer that can bury the puck when given a chance. Since Ullstrom’s point totals have not taken a hit this season, the right winger remains one of the strongest and most interesting options for New York to consider on the offensive side of the puck.
1.) Ryan Strome – Fans, executives, and probably teammates have all been waiting for Ryan Strome to get his first NHL stint with the Islanders.
After coming off of a strong showing at the 2013 WJHC, Strome might be given a reward in the form of an invite to training camp. Not only did Strome put forth a noteworthy performance at this year’s WJHC, he has also tallied 62 points (20 Goals, 42 Assists) in the OHL and he is still one of the league’s top scorers despite missing a number of games to compete internationally in Ufa, Russia.
There is no doubt that Strome could one day put up huge numbers with the Islanders, but the team must decide if the young prospect is ready to handle an NHL stint before giving him a roster spot. Whatever the case may be, Islanders fans should expect Strome to put his best foot forward if he is invited to training camp as the center continues his drive toward a future in the NHL.
Decisions-A-Plenty for New York Islanders
The New York Islanders will have a number of decisions to make in the next ten days as the team will take an extended look at some of its younger players.
Prospects such as Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart might be given an opportunity to compete for a roster spot with the big club, but other players such as John Persson, David Ullstrom, Johan Sundstrom, Nino Niederreiter, and Casey Cizikas should not be overlooked just because the Islanders have two of their big ticket prospects coming to camp.
New York will try to offset the off-season loss of P.A Parenteau by bringing Brad Boyes on board on a one-year deal, but there is no denying that the Isles have a tremendous set of young offensive players that will do their best to crack an NHL roster.
While questions will certainly be abound as to who will and won’t be invited to training camp for the Islanders, team executives will likely have a difficult time deciding which of the Isles’ many promising prospects get to make the cut.