It's been a bit longer than I would like since the last post but in this one I discuss the top 5 fantasy prospects of the New York Islanders. The Islanders have a fantastic group of fantasy prospects due to their poor performance and high draft picks each season.
Check inside for the full list and leave a comment with your thoughts!
1. Ryan Strome – OHL: 28gp 18g 22a 40p 39 PIM +16
One of the fastest risers in the 2011 draft class, Strome has more high end skill than most players. He was a WJC member and one of the top prospects outside the NHL. Strome is adept at scoring highlight reel goals as well as using his unbelievable hands to control the puck. He’s been having a great past few seasons for Niagara and should be the 2nd line center for the New York Islanders next season.
Fantasy: He will likely make his debut next season as the 2nd line center for the Islanders behind John Tavares. He adds more high end skill into an already talented top 6. Strome should see ample power play time as well as great offensive zone time and easy minutes. With John Tavares progressing so far this season, Strome will have a lot less pressure to produce. Frans Nielsen as a top notch defensive center will help Strome as well. He could surprise next season and work his way into the Calder trophy conversation. He also gets a surprising amount of penalty minutes for a highly skilled finesse player.
Upside: 25g 45a PP1 player who could hit a point per game
2. Nino Niederreiter – NHL: 28gp 1g 0a 1p 10PIM -16
He would probably be ranked #1 if he had had a better start to his NHL career. While he is still one of the best prospects in hockey, Niederreiter’s 2011 season has been a big disappointment. He started off injured but has now worked his way back into the lineup but is playing 4th line minutes – not nearly enough for a developing player.
Fantasy: His high end potential is not as lofty as Strome, but he is a safe bet to succeed at the NHL level. Once he gets comfortable, you will likely see his natural talent and drive win out. Good multicat potential for leagues that reward hits as well. He’s a lock for a 3rd liner, upside to be a 1st liner.
Upside: 35g 35a 200 sog 200 hits
3. Kevin Poulin – AHL: 13-13-1 2.79 GAA .907 SV% 3 shutouts
Poulin has not gotten much NHL time this season after his severe knee injury to end the season last year. He’s stuck behind Evgeni Nabokov, Al Montoya, and the always injured Rick DiPietro. Poulin has the most upside of the group and he probably earned a chance to open the season as an NHL backup but he had too many veterans in front of him to leapfrog. Montoya will open as the starter next season and there are rumblings that DiPietro could be on his way out so that leaves a good opportunity for Poulin to take the starting job.
Fantasy: I am a New York Islander believer. So many high draft picks has to result in a successful team like it did for Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington… right? If they can solidify their defense I think Poulin has the talent to be a quality starter for them and give them stability at a position that has been putrid for them since DiPietro signed his ill-fated contract years ago. If he does that, he could become a valuable fantasy asset. Buy on Poulin if you have a farm team roster or a lot of patience. Keep on eye on him in all leagues though starting next season.
Upside: NYI starter within 2 years. Could be top 15 goalie with a better defense in front of him
4. Kirill Kabanov QMJHL: 35gp 16g 21a 37p 30 PIM +21
Always a risk due to character concerns, Kabanov’s critics are changing their tune on the dynamic Russian forward. Many are saying character reports are exaggerated. If so, his talent may yet be seen on NHL ice. He still needs work on rounding out his game and consistency, but his upside is still very high. He could still be a steal as a 3rd round pick.
Fantasy: His high end potential is still there but he has a long way to go to realize that potential. He has very little KHL risk since they do not want him either. He will need some seasoning before breaking into the major league.
Upside: 35g 40a or fry cook
5. Anders Lee NCAA: 30gp 14g 15a 29p 22 PIM Even
One of the top players in the NCAA, the 6th round pick of the Islanders in 2009 has looked great playing on a line with T.J. Tynan (Columbus) and Bryan Rust (PIT) for most of his college career so far. Lee has really grown as a player since his debut at Notre Dame. He has been a player looked to for offense since day 1 so he is used to being relied on. He will need a few seasons of AHL play to round out his game since he entered the NCAA a very raw prospect.
Fantasy: He needs to get better at producing against tight checking teams and tough defenseman. He has proved to be great value as a 6th round pick. He could use his great size (6’3" 218 lb.) more to enforce his will on opponents but that size will help him handle the rigors of the pro game. Keep an eye on Lee long term but don’t expect anything in the next few years.
Upside: 30g 25a 2nd liner
Brock Nelson: Pretty much tied with Lee. I’ve seen more of Lee and liked what I’ve seen from Lee better but I haven't seen much of Nelson this year. Consider him #5b and an excellent prospect in his own right.
Kirill Petrov: One of my favorite prospects, if he comes to North America next season – bump him up to #3 on this list. Great size and potential but a risk due to success in the KHL.
Calvin de Haan: Drafted too high by the Islanders, de Haan is now in the AHL and he needs to start producing offensively to move up the list… but first he needs to stay healthy!
Zach Boslett can be seen tweeting about fantasy hockey, Penguin hockey, and life as a college student here. Feel free to give a follow, say hi, or complain about how dumb I am. I'm open to it all!
He also writes for Faceoff-Factor.com, a Pittsburgh Penguin hockey website if that sort of thing is to your liking.