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Isles Pick Goalies, College Players at Draft

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
Linus Soderstrom makes a save for Djurgarden

The New York Islanders drafted in twos on the second day of the NHL Draft, rounding our a pair of goaltenders and a pair of college players with a member of the famed Sutter family with their five picks Saturday.

“The goal is to finish the draft with players we have confidence in becoming big parts of our organization,” Islanders Director of Player Development Trent Klatt said. “We are going to pump this lineup full of skill, smarts and the ability to play the game."

One day after addressing their depth on the wing with Machael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang, the Islanders bolstered their crease with two European goaltenders, taking Ilya Sorokin 78th overall and Linus Soderstrom with the 95th pick. (The team traded the 65th overall pick to the Florida Panthers for their third round pick in 2015).

Sorokin played 27 games for Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the Kontinental Hockey League last season, posting a 2.90 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

Soderstrom, the third-ranked European goalie by Central Scouting, put up a 2.61 goals against average and a .915 save percentage in his first season with Djurgarden’s junior team in the SuperElit League. The Stockholm, Sweden native is 6’4” 194 pounds and is light in his crease, limiting rebound opportunities. Islanders goaltending coach Mike Dunham said Soderstrom has “a calmness about his game that shows he plays under control.”

The Islanders dipped into the college ranks in the fourth and sixth rounds, drafting Quinnipiac University defenseman Devon Toews (108th overall) and Ferris State University forward Kyle Schempp (155th overall). Toews and Schempp are both 20-year-old freshmen, who were thrilled after being selected by the Islanders.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Schempp said. “It’s something I’ll always remember and cherish.”

Devon Toews skating for the Quinnipiac University Bobcats

Toews (no relation to Chicago’s Jonathan Toews) is an offensive defenseman, who scored 17 points (1G, 16A) in 37 games for the Quinnipiac Bobcats last season and 45 points (10G, 35A) in 48 games for the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League the year before. The Abbotsford, BC, native and former BCHL defenseman of the year, was ecstatic when he found out he was drafted by the team just two hours south on the I-95.

“It was my last chance at the draft this year and I had a good interview with the Islanders,” Toews said. “I’m happy I get to go to a team that’s close to my school. It’s a good organization.”

Schempp, a native of Saginaw, MI, scored 25 points (10G, 15A) in 43 games this season for the Ferris State Bulldogs, which included two games at the NCAA Division 1 Tournament.

“He’s a highly-skilled player,” Klatt said. “When we get to the later rounds in the draft… these guys have to have something that is almost exceptional. This kid’s hockey sense is there and that’s why we picked him.”

Lukas Sutter was the Islanders final pick in the draft, taken 200th overall after the Islanders sent the 185th pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 200th pick and the Lightning's seventh-round pick in 2015. The 6’0, 209-pound center re-entered the draft after being selected by the Winnipeg Jets in the second round in 2012. Sutter’s father, Rich, played 874 NHL games with seven teams over his 17-year career.

“He’s an agitator, a guy that has some abrasiveness to him,” Klatt said. “He’s the type of guy that is going to win games for you in the playoffs. He goes to the dirty areas;,wins face offs and is an all-around player.”

Klatt reiterated his enthusiasm with the Islanders picks at the draft. In total, the team made seven picks and three trades, but more importantly, got “their” guys and addressed the positions that needed attention.

That’s a pair of wins on draft day.

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