At the conclusion of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders picked fifth overall, had another first round pick and drafted a total of seven players. On draft day, all of the picks appeared to be the right decision, but as years have gone by, it’s clear New York missed on some picks.
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When people look back on the draft, it’s easy to see what could’ve been based on who went after who, which prospect was a bust and what team drafted off of need instead of the best available player. The Islanders’ first five picks in this draft have been talked about a lot since their draft day, but not always for the right reasons.
5th Overall, Michael Dal Colle
Michael Dal Colle, or “MDC,” has never been the Islanders’ most exciting prospect. Drafted in a high position, he was vaulted onto this pedestal that he was to be the guy to help John Tavares lead New York back to victory. Common thoughts were, “finally, a good, winger for Tavares.” Do not forget that this was only one season removed from when the organization traded away forward prospect Nino Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck.
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Dal Colle just recently cracked the Islanders lineup for good after finding both points and confidence at the American Hockey League. Last season, he was an AHL All-Star and finished with 34 points in 34 games. The remainder of the time, he was called up with New York.
Even after many seasons of waiting, fans were ready to see what MDC could bring to the table. Looking at it objectively, it hasn’t worked out. Dal Colle skates up and down the ice with his linemates but rarely creates the play, and most of his points this year have come from rebounds or deflection goals.
Is Dal Colle the worst player in the NHL? No, but he only has 10 points in 45 games this season. Also, on a high-offense team, he might be a healthy scratch or even in the minors. Sadly, the fifth-overall status was not even close and was a waste of a high pick. One thing to remember is Dal Colle was not a reach, so the rest of the league had him high on their draft boards too.
28th Overall, Josh Ho-Sang
The Islanders traded back into the first round to draft Josh Ho-Sang. He is a high-skilled forward that fell on the draft boards because he had the potential to be a locker room problem and at times, he put himself before the team. He and New York did not start off on the right foot considering he slept in during his first practice. His punishment was to run the Nassau Coliseum stairs multiple times and he was sent down to Bridgeport that same day.
Ho-Sang has been full of controversy for his entire career from his attitude to his jersey number. Without going through the entire Ho-Sang saga, long story short, he should be with the team by now but at times the management mishandled him, and other times he was his own worst enemy. The most recent drama (which has since subsided) was that he failed to report to Bridgeport early in the 2019-20 season and requested a trade. With the lack of production from Dal Colle this season, there is a chance Ho-Sang could have been with the team by now.
At times, fans could have felt bad for Ho-Sang because it seemed like the old management had it out for him since the day he overslept. Players like Stephen Gionta, Steve Bernier and Alan Quine were consistently called up instead of Ho-Sang. These players sometimes were not held accountable and even though they didn’t play every day, it rarely, if ever, seemed like their roster spot was in jeopardy.
Ho-Sang is still with the Islanders organization in Bridgeport. The 24-year old has eight points in 14 games this season. If he continues to play at a good pace with no drama, he is a strong candidate to be called up and help New York’s offense out if it cannot find help before the trade deadline.
78th Overall, Ilya Sorokin
Ilya Sorokin is the closest thing you can get to a living myth or fable. Does he exist? Will he ever play for the New York Islanders? Sorokin, currently in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), is and has been one of the world’s most highly-coveted goalie prospects. At the young age of 25, he is still considered to be a prospect because he has barely even been to America let alone seen NHL ice. With a Gagarin Cup (the KHL equivalent of the Stanley Cup), a Gagarin Cup MVP award and insane save percentages throughout his career, Sorokin appears to be the goaltender the Islanders have been searching for, for years.
At 78th overall, multiple teams passed on him more than once and the Islanders look like they’ve struck gold. However, the thing always preventing him from being here at any moment was and still is his contract. As if contract issues weren’t enough, there was always doubt that he would ever be an Islander because of rumors that he did not like former general manager Garth Snow.
The Islanders are in an interesting situation because Sorokin’s contract is up at the end of this season and he has a choice to make: the NHL or the KHL. If he chooses the former, all he must do is adjust to the North American ice and work his way into the league. If he chooses the latter, the Islanders essentially drafted a player that does not want to play for them and they could have traded his rights for immediate help for the offense.
An interesting note is that Sorokin’s former counterpart, Igor Shestyorkin, is the New York Rangers goalie prospect. The two were on rival teams in Russia (CSKA for Sorokin and SKA for Shestyorkin) and would be rivals in the NHL as well.
95th Overall, Linus Soderstrom
The other goalie prospect the Islanders drafted was Linus Soderstrom. However, he was always different. Soderstrom has Asperger’s, a milder form of autism that severely affects social interactions. Diagnosed at the age of seven, he’s faced challenges to even have the opportunity to be drafted. Many people question whether or not he has what it takes to get to the NHL, but his Swedish Hockey League (SHL) stats can argue a case by themselves.
Since his draft day, he has excelled in the SHL, with the club HV71, who were champions in the 2016-17 season. This was also the same year he won the award for the lowest goals against average with 1.34.
Soderstrom is currently in Worcester of the ECHL (formerly known as the East Coast Hockey League). He’s played in just four games this season and has a 1-3 record. Since coming to America, his stats and play have dropped significantly, however, he has been dealing with on and off injuries which are more than likely playing a part. After finding success at every level, fans shouldn’t worry about Soderstrom. The Stockholm, Sweden native is only 23 so he still has time to pan out for the Islanders. The organization could definitely use him if Sorokin never comes over from Russia.
108th Overall, Devon Toews
Finally, some consistency. At the 108th overall selection, the Islanders found what would become a steady NHL defenseman. At the time, Toews was wrapping up his freshman season at Quinnipiac University where he was named to the ECAC Hockey (formerly known as Eastern College Athletic Conference) All-Academic team.
Toews can best be described as a playmaker from the blue line. He is an effective puck mover and can quarterback a power play. He recorded 45 points in 76 games in his rookie season at the AHL level. Toews was selected to be at the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic where he won the AHL’s Fastest Skater competition in 13.478 seconds.
The 2018-19 season was when Toews got promoted to the NHL. In his fifth game, he scored his first NHL goal in overtime against the Dallas Stars. In his young career, he’s had success at every level. This is a huge bright spot for the Islanders in the 2014 draft. Toews added stability to the bottom pairing when he first came up, and it looks like he can grow in this organization.
155th Overall, Kyle Schempp and 200th Overall, Lukas Sutter
Unfortunately for these two prospects, both Kyle Schempp and Lukas Sutter have not found success in hockey. Schempp is no longer with the organization and is in the ECHL with the Idaho Steelheads, an affiliate of the Dallas Stars.
Sutter left the organization in 2015 and played for the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL where he recorded 10 points in 40 games. Sutter is the nephew of the famous Islanders forward Brent Sutter. While neither of these players are expected to succeed based on draft positioning, when late-round picks pan out, it helps the organization immensely.
So it appears that the theme of this draft was that the Islanders had plenty of opportunities to draft well but had little success. Not all hope is lost though. The goaltenders are still growing and one isn’t with the team yet, there’s still hope for Ho-Sang and this might be just a glimpse of what Toews could be in the future.
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