New York Islanders rank No. 27 in NHL Pipeline Rankings for 2022

The Islanders haven’t picked in the first round in three years, and the first pick prior to that, Simon Holmstrom, has developed just OK. Thankfully, Noah Dobson has emerged into a true top-flight young defenseman, William Dufour looks like an excellent mid-round pick and they added Alexander Romanov via trade.

Key graduate: Robin Salo

Key addition: Alexander Romanov

2021 ranking: No. 27

2022 NHL Draft grade: C

Full 2022-23 NHL Pipeline Rankings

Player Ranking

1. Noah Dobson, D

22 years old | 6-foot-4 | 184 pounds | Shoots right

Drafted: No. 12 in 2018
Tier: Top of the lineup player

Skating: NHL average
Puck skills: Below NHL average
Hockey sense: Above NHL average
Compete: NHL average
Shot: Above NHL average

Analysis: Dobson had a breakout season, scoring 50 points and playing a major role for the Islanders’ blue line. He’s a big, mobile right shot who can generate a lot of controlled exits and entries due to his mobility and passing. His offense isn’t always the flashiest type, but he makes a lot of plays and has a hard point shot. I don’t view Dobson as overly physical, but with his reach and feet he’ll be good defensively in the league even if he doesn’t take tough minutes yet. He looks on track to be a long-term top-pair defenseman with a chance to be a star.

2. William Dufour, RW

20 years old | 6-foot-2 | 195 pounds | Shoots right

Drafted: No. 152 in 2020
Tier: Middle of the lineup player

Skating: Below NHL average
Puck skills: NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Compete: NHL average
Shot: High-end

Analysis: Dufour had a big season, being named QMJHL MVP and MVP of the Memorial Cup. His offensive talents are obvious. Dufour is a big, highly-skilled winger who can make a lot happen inside the offensive zone. On the power play he’s dangerous because of his high-end shot that can beat goals consistently from the dots while also being able to make plays. His skating is just OK, lacking NHL speed. His effort over his junior career has never been a selling point either, although he was better in that regard this season. Dufour projects as a second-line winger with a chance to be a major value pick by the Islanders in the mid rounds.

3. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW

22 years old | 6-foot-2 | 211 pounds | Shoots right

Drafted: No. 11 in 2018
Tier: Middle of the lineup player

Skating: Below NHL average
Puck skills: NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Compete: Below NHL average
Shot: High-end

Analysis: Wahlstrom up was and down this season for the Islanders in his second NHL campaign. There’s no doubting his offensive talents. He has great individual skill, can make tough plays to his teammates and his shot is a weapon from range. Wahlstrom can struggle to drive play by himself, though, due to average footspeed and in-and-out compete. I see a long-term second-line winger even with those warts due to those offensive talents.

4. Alexander Romanov, D

22 years old | 6-foot-1 | 209 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 38 in 2018
Tier: Middle of the lineup player

Skating: Above NHL average
Puck skills: Below NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Compete: High-end

Analysis: Romanov was up and down as a Hab but he was strong to end the season and was traded at the draft to the Islanders. He’s a strong defender due to his great mobility and physicality. He can close gaps at a high level and is able to kill a lot of plays. I don’t think there’s ever going to be much offense out of him. He can skate pucks up and make a good first pass so he should be competent enough there to play real minutes. He projects as a second-pair defenseman.

5. Aatu Räty, C

19 years old | 6-foot-2 | 185 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 52 in 2021
Tier: Middle of the lineup player

Skating: Below NHL average
Puck skills: NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Compete: Below NHL average
Shot: Above NHL average

Analysis: Räty’s season started off like it did during his draft year, but after a move from Karpat to Jukurit it lit a spark in his game, scoring nearly a point per game in Liiga following the move. Räty has great hands and vision with the puck, showing he can make a lot of plays inside the offensive zone. The best Räty doesn’t show up every night, particularly sometimes his game can lack pace, but he was more consistent in the second half of the season. I see him as a third-line center in the NHL.

Has a chance to play (listed alphabetically)

Quinn Finley, LW

18 years old | 6 feet | 166 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 78 in 2022

Analysis: Finley is an interesting prospect as he possesses legit speed and skill that could translate to higher levels and is one of the younger prospects in this class. Off the rush, he shows he can be a threat and can beat defenders with speed. His offensive ability doesn’t “wow” you, but he can make plays and projects to score versus better players. Given he’s not amazing off the puck either, it’s hard to see where he fits on an NHL roster. The talent gives him a chance though.

Isaiah George, D

18 years old | 6 feet | 196 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 98 in 2022

Analysis: George is a mobile defenseman who plays well in his own end of the rink due to his strong gap control and compete level. He can kill a lot of rushes and break up plays. George shows some flashes of skill with the puck with a hard point shot, but I wouldn’t call him a natural puck mover. He can at times force plays. The skating gives him a chance to play, but he’ll need to show a more reliable first pass along with offensive line play to be a regular NHL player.

Simon Holmström, LW

21 years old | 6 feet | 193 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 23 in 2019

Analysis: Holmstrom took steps forward this season, his third in the AHL. He has NHL skill, vision and finishing ability but his skating is just OK and I wonder if he’ll be able to make plays at an NHL pace.

Ruslan Iskhakov, LW

21 years old | 5-foot-7 | 152 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 43 in 2018

Analysis: There’s no denying Iskhakov has NHL skill and playmaking ability and he had a decent year, being a point-per-game player in the DEL. His game lacks pace and compete, though, which is concerning at his size — so he has a long way to go to be an NHL player.

Eetu Liukas, LW

19 years old | 6-foot-2 | 198 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 157 in 2021

Analysis: Liukas’ skating isn’t the best, but he’s a big winger with good hands and he can really shoot the puck.

Calle Odelius, D

18 years old | 6 feet | 188 pounds | Shoots left

Drafted: No. 65 in 2022

Analysis: Odelius’ skating pops out to you when you watch him. He has a powerful, fluid stride that can explode up the ice and the strong edgework to escape pressure. I wouldn’t call his puck play as exceptional as his feet, but he shows good instances of puck skill and can make plays in the offensive zone to create chances. He’s talented, and the skating excites scouts, but as a 6-foot defenseman who is average defensively and isn’t dynamic offensively, I’m not sure where he fits on an NHL team.


Player Eligibility: All skaters who are 22 years old or younger as of Sept. 15, 2022, regardless of how many NHL games they’ve played, are eligible. Player heights and weights are taken from the NHL.

Tool grades: Tool grades are based on a scale with six separate levels, with an eye toward how this attribute would grade in the NHL (poor, below-average, average, above-average, high-end and elite). “Average” on this scale means the tool projects as NHL average, which is meant as a positive, not a criticism. Skating, puck skills, hockey sense and compete for every projected NHL player are graded. Shot grades are only included if a shot is notably good or poor.

Tier Definitions: Tiers are meant to show roughly where in an average NHL lineup a player projects to slot in.

(Illustration: Wes McCabe/ The Athletic; photo of Noah Dobson: David Kirouac / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.