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30 in 30

Top prospects for New York Islanders

High-scoring center Mathew Barzal could play role in NHL this season

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the New York Islanders.

After years of being mired at or near the bottom of the NHL standings, the New York Islanders have made strides in recent years, none bigger than last season, when they won a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1993.

A good portion of the Islanders' recent success can be attributed to their young core, which is led by captain John Tavares, the No. 1 pick at the 2009 NHL Draft. But more help is still on the way for the Islanders, who are hoping to take another step this season. 

Here are the Islanders' top five prospects, according to

1. Mathew Barzal, C

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

Last season: Seattle (WHL): 58 GP, 27-61-88

Barzal, 19, was so impressive during training camp last season, he nearly made the Islanders roster before they ultimately decided to send him back to Seattle of the Western Hockey League for more seasoning.

The decision is expected to be even more difficult this time around. Islanders coach Jack Capuano told he wouldn't rule out Barzal (6-foot, 182 pounds) making the jump this season.

"I would never say never with any of these guys," Capuano said. "It's a competition. He's working extremely hard. He wants to come in and earn a spot, and that's the focus he should have. He should come in here and want to make our team."

Barzal would seem to have little left to prove in juniors; in three seasons with Seattle, he has 199 points (53 goals, 146 assists) in 161 games, an average of 1.24 points per game.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

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2. Ilya Sorokin, G

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

Last season: CSKA Moscow (KHL): 28 GP, 17-7-4, 1.06 GAA, .953 SV%

Sorokin, 21, has two years remaining on his Kontinental Hockey League contract, but he got his first taste of New York in June while participating at the Islanders mini-camp. He had 10 shutouts last season and led CSKA Moscow to Game 7 of the Gagarin Cup Final.

"That was just one year," Sorokin (6-2, 187) told the Islanders website. "I have to prove a lot of things and I need consistency. I can have one year of perfect play, but I need to prove the next season that [I am] on the same level. So we'll see."

Projected NHL arrival: 2018-19

3. Ryan Pulock, D

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

Last season: New York: 15 GP, 2-2-4; Bridgeport (AHL): 51 GP, 7-17-24

Pulock, 21, made his NHL debut on Feb. 28 last season and contributed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a goal and two assists in six games. He is expected to be one of the Islanders' top six defensemen this season and with a slap shot regularly clocked at more than 100 miles per hour, Pulock (6-2, 215) should see plenty of time on the power play.

"I think once you get a taste as a young player of what the system is, what the coaches are expecting of you and have faith and confidence in you, I think anytime that you show confidence in a player and what you want him to do, he's going to play better," Capuano said. "Ryan got that message loud and clear in the year-end meetings."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: NYI@NSH: Pulock registers his first career NHL goal

4. Michael Dal Colle, LW

How acquired: Selected with No. 5 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Oshawa (OHL): 30 GP, 8-17-25; Kingston (OHL): 30 GP, 27-28-55; Bridgeport (AHL): 3 GP, 0-0-0

Dal Colle, 20, becomes a full-time pro this season, likely with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. He had a solid second half in his final junior season after being traded from Oshawa to Kingston on Jan. 1, with 55 points (27 goals, 28 assists) in 30 games with the Frontenacs, and had a brief taste of the AHL after Kingston's season ended.

Regardless of whether he lands in the NHL or AHL this season, Dal Colle (6-3, 198) is about to take the next step in his career.

"He's in a good place right now," Islanders director of player development Eric Cairns said. "That's all you look for as a development crew, is for guys to learn their lessons and get better, and he certainly did that last year."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

5. Kieffer Bellows, LW

How acquired: Selected with No. 19 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: USA Hockey National Team Development Program Juniors (USHL): 23 GP, 16-16-32; U.S. National Under-18 Team (NTDP): 62 GP, 50-31-81

The son of former NHL right wing Brian Bellows will head to Boston University this fall. Kieffer Bellows, 18, told he tries to emulate his game after Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn. Bellows (6-foot, 196) is expected to be a top-six forward for the Islanders down the road.

"I'd say I'm a power forward that loves to shoot the puck and loves to score goals," Bellows said. "[I'm] a guy that is not afraid to play a physical game, and isn't afraid to go into the dirty areas."

Projected NHL arrival: 2018-19

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