Can you remember what you did the summer before your senior year of high school? Islanders prospects Doyle Somerby and Jake Bischoff certainly will. Both players were selected by the Islanders in last week’s NHL Draft and participated in the organization’s annual prospect camp this week alongside several players who have previously played in the NHL and AHL.
“It’s been surreal,” Somerby said, following the final workout of camp. “Starting off with the draft I couldn’t put it into words. But coming here and just sitting next to Nino Niederreiter and a bunch of NHL guys, just looking around the locker room is really cool.”
Somerby, who will head back for his senior year at Kimball Union High School in New Hampshire this fall, was selected in the fifth round (125th overall), while Bischoff, who turns 18 next month, was the seventh-round choice (185th overall) of the Islanders. Bischoff, who will enter his senior year at Grand Rapids High School in Minnesota, described this week’s camp as an unbelievable experience.
“It’s definitely different,” Bischoff said, with the same smile he has had all week long. “The pace is a lot faster. It took a little while to get used to it, but it’s pretty crazy. It’s like a dream come true, playing with these guys. It’s a lot of fun.”
Bischoff weighs in at 6’0, 185-pounds, so his size is above average by high school standards. This week though, for the first time in his life, he was one of the smallest players on the ice, playing with seven other defensemen at least 6’4. Bischoff held his own in Thursday’s Orange & Blue scrimmage, blocking shots and getting in passing lanes. Still, the 17-year-old knows he has a ways to go to make it to the NHL someday, and naturally, will continue to put on size in the next couple of years.
“I just need to get bigger, faster and stronger, that kind of stuff, and work on my shot,” Bischoff said. “I’m just trying to become a better player overall.”
Somerby used the same three adjectives to describe some of the players he was in positional battles with this week and in Thursday’s scrimmage.
“Everyone’s just bigger, stronger and faster,” Somerby said. “They’re good down low so for a defenseman it’s tough.”
While Somerby is already 6’5” and weighs 223 pounds, he undoubtedly will put on even more size in the near future. After all, he’s not even allowed to vote yet (he turns 18 next week). After Friday morning’s practice, Somerby was the last player off the ice, staying with Islanders Skill Development Coach Bernie Cassell to work on technique.
“The big emphasis there was my shot,” Somerby said. “As a big guy I should have a better shot than I do, so first I was working on the one-timer as well as snapping the puck a little bit harder.”
Both players have tried to soak in everything they could this week so that they can continue to train efficiently on their own this offseason. Between on-ice drills and off-ice training with professional coaches and veteran players, Bischoff has a lot of information to take home with him.
“It’s a great experience for me,” Bischoff said. “They know so much that just talking to them, I’m learning a lot. Just the tips they give you, and playing 1-on-1’s and stuff, it’s been really helpful.”
Bischoff pointed out one other perk of playing in a pro camp this week.
“It’s like night and day,” Bischoff said. “We don’t even get free tape where I’m from, and here everything’s laid out for you. It’s pretty cool.”
SUNDSTROM WANTING TO PLAY IN THE NHL | THOMPSON EXCITED TO BE BACK IN NHL | DE HAAN WORKING FOR FULL-TIME ROSTER SPOT