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31 in 31

Top prospects for New York Islanders

Pulock, Barzal, Ho-Sang could make major contributions this season

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the New York Islanders.

With spots available among their top six forwards and top four on defense, the New York Islanders likely are turning to younger players to fill those positions.

 

[ISLANDERS 31 in 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]

 

Here are the Islanders' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

 

1. Ryan Pulock, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 15 pick in 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: New York: 1 GP, 0-0-0; Bridgeport (AHL): 55 GP, 15-31-46

The trade that sent defenseman Travis Hamonic to the Calgary Flames on June 24 has created an opportunity for Pulock to become a full-time NHL player. Pulock (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) injured his foot on his first shift with the Islanders last season and did not play another NHL game.

Pulock, who turns 23 on Oct. 6, should provide a huge boost to a power play that ranked 28th in the League last season (14.9 percent).

"Ryan's been talked to by a couple of coaches in a good way," Islanders coach Doug Weight said. "He's a good kid and he's got to come with assertiveness and ready to take a job."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: FLA@NYI, Gm3: Pulock scores on two-man advantage

 

2. Mathew Barzal, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 16 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: New York: 2 GP, 0-0-0; Seattle (WHL): 41 GP, 10-69-79

Barzal (6-0, 182) made his NHL debut last season before being sent back to Seattle of the Western Hockey League, where he helped the Thunderbirds win the league championship and was named MVP of the WHL playoffs after he had 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) in 16 games.

Barzal, 20, no longer has junior eligibility, so he will play for New York or Bridgeport of the American Hockey League this season.

"Whether I'm with the Islanders or whether I'm with Bridgeport, you always want to go on a playoff run and go deep," Barzal said. "I feel like I've got that experience and I now know what it takes to win a championship."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

3. Joshua Ho-Sang, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 28 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: New York: 21 GP, 4-6-10; Bridgeport (AHL): 50 GP, 10-26-36

Ho-Sang (6-0, 173) impressed after making his NHL debut on March 2 and stayed with the Islanders for the remainder of the season. A gifted playmaker, Ho-Sang, 21, likely will be among their top six forwards when they open the season Oct. 6.

"I think his game was good," Weight said of Ho-Sang. "He had some blips and he responded well, and I think that's a key for a young guy, and especially Josh. He's a dynamic talent. He wants to get better. We have to continue to work Josh and push him in all facets on and off the ice."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

4. Devon Toews, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 108 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Bridgeport (AHL): 76 GP, 5-40-45

Toews (6-1, 181) played in the AHL All-Star Game last season, his first as a professional, and won the fastest skater competition, completing a lap in 13.478 seconds, the second-fastest time ever in that event. The 23-year-old finished tied for first in AHL scoring among rookie defensemen and likely will be first in line for a promotion if an Islanders defenseman is injured.

"I hope nobody gets hurt, but I just want to push my way," Toews said. "If I have a good camp and I make it, if not, I'll go down [to Bridgeport] and work hard, and try to continue my game and progress every year. My mindset is just to get better every day on the ice in practice and off the ice in the gym."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

5. Ilya Sorokin, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 78 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: CSKA Moscow (KHL): 39 GP, 25-7-6, 1.61 GAA, .929 save percentage

It still may be a while before the Islanders see Sorokin (6-2, 167), who signed a three-year contract extension with CSKA Moscow on July 3. But the 22-year-old is regarded as one of the best goaltenders not playing in the NHL. Sorokin had 15 shutouts in 67 Kontinental Hockey League games the past two seasons, so the Islanders will be keeping tabs on him with the hope of finding a way to bring him to New York sooner. Sorokin has a chance to be the No. 1 goaltender for Russia at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20

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