The New York Islanders shocked the hockey world by qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and made some noise by sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. With the Islanders rise in the standings, they hold the 23rd overall pick in the NHL Draft. This is the Islanders latest pick in the first round since 1993 when they selected Todd Bertuzzi with the 23rd selection. Based on mock drafts and projections, some names have been linked to the Islanders. We decided to break it down and target some names that Islander fans should look out for next week.
Philip Tomasino: C, 6’0″, Niagara IceDogs
Philip Tomasino had 72 points in 67 games in the OHL last season and established himself as a top prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft. At the World Junior Championships, Tomasino had 5 points in 6 games for Team Canada. He has been touted for his high motor and ability to create offensive chances under challenging situations. Tomasino has a wicked release and can also make a crisp pass to an open teammate. He is characterized as a playmaker, but possesses a very underrated shot. Tomasino has an average frame but uses it to body his opponent and finish hits. Tomasino is the last of the top tier of centers available in the draft before the Connor McMichael’s of the world. With the Islanders pretty thin at center in the farm system, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Tomasino at Islanders rookie camp in a couple of weeks.
Nils Höglander: LW, 5’9″, Rögle BK
Nils Höglander didn’t have the flashiest numbers with 14 points in the SHL last season. However, Höglander played against men in the top Swedish league, so it’s understandable for his point production to be much less than Tomasino and Bobby Brink. Isac Lundestrom, 23rd overall pick by the Anaheim Ducks, last season, had 15 points in 42 games in the SHL during his draft year. How many points Höglander had should not deter an NHL club from selecting him with their first round selection. Höglander has been touted with “the best hands in the draft” because of his ability to make silky smooth plays to get away from a defender, if you need proof, watch this video of Höglander that was voted as the best goal in the SHL…
Even though it isn’t Höglander’s number one attribute, his speed is sneaky good. He routinely broke away from the opposition and had 1 v 1’s with the goalie. Size isn’t an issue for Höglander at 5’9″, he throws his body around and occasionally delivers a bone-crushing open-ice hit. Höglander gets to the dirty areas and always attacks the net. Many hockey fans may write off Höglander because of his frame, but he has the potential to be a star in the NHL.
Bobby Brink: RW, 5’8″, Sioux City Musketeers
Bobby Brink probably has the biggest risk and reward of all of these prospects. Brink has the explosiveness and shot to be a top-6 talent in the NHL, but sometimes looks lost and out of position. Brink has a higher PPG ratio than Höglander and Tomasino, but he goes up against lesser opponents in the USHL. Brink’s number one attribute is his goal scoring while preferring to use a wrist shot over a slapper/one-timer. Brink isn’t the best skater in the world, but he has insane explosiveness that allows him to break away from defenders with a quick step. Brink has a very high ceiling, but will not reach it unless he adds some more strength. Since he is committed to Denver University, he should be able to grow into his body a bit more and acclimate to the college game. Scouts have compared Bobby Brink’s game to that of T.J. Oshie’s, but Brink tries to model his game after Mathew Barzal’s.
I believe that the New York Islanders should select Nils Höglander or Bobby Brink if they have their choice of the three. I know that the farm system is pretty thin at center, but Tomasino doesn’t seem as electric as the other two. Yes, Brink and Höglander are the bigger risks with the 23rd pick, but they have the biggest rewards. The Islanders need more top-level talent in the farm, and they’ll get that in Brink or Höglander.
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