The New York Islanders will not be drafting in the first two rounds of this week’s NHL Draft, so excitement surrounding the event has been a bit muted. The Islanders first pick of the draft doesn’t come until the third round with the 90th overall selection.
With picks so late in the NHL Draft and none in the early rounds, the Islanders will be drafting players that could help the organization a few years down the line and won’t be making an immediate impact. That doesn’t mean the Islanders won’t find some quality players, but the later rounds in the draft are where selecting the right person can get a bit trickier.
During an appearance on Hockey Night in New York this week, ESPN NHL Draft analyst Chris Peters highlighted a few players that Islanders fans should know heading into Tuesday and Wednesday:
Wyatt Kaiser, D, Andover Huskies
The 6’0″, 173 lbs defenseman might be a stretch for the Islanders with their first pick coming at 90th overall, but the 18-year-old high school product is one that Peters spoke very highly of. Kaiser recorded 34 points (nine goals, 25 assists) in 25 games this year with Andover. He added another nine points (two goals, seven assists) during the postseason.
“I’m not sure Wyatt Kaiser will be there, but he’s a very talented defenseman. Great skater, good athlete,” Peters said about Kaiser, who he ranked 87th on his ESPN draft rankings. “Played in Andover this year and got his team to the state tournament in Minnesota. … He’s got good mobility. He makes good decisions with the puck.”
Kaiser has committed to play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth next season.
Blake Biondi, C, Hermantown High
The reigning Minnesota Minute Men Mr. Hockey Award winner, Biondi was a dominant player at the high school level. In 25 games this season, Biondi recorded 76 points (37 goals, 39 assists) and averaged 3.04 points per game for Hermantown. His success at the high school level earned him a spot at 63 by NHL Central Scouting on their rankings of North American skaters, was listed at 90 by Elite Prospects and 98th by ESPN.
According to Elite Prospects, “anticipation is his bread and butter, swooping into passing lanes and creating turnovers. He finds most of his offensive success near the crease, digging for rebounds, jamming in pucks, and acting as a screen-tip threat.”
Peters described his physical profile as that of a power forward but believed he still needed some refining.
Antonio Stranges, C/LW, London Knights
Stranges may be one of the most offensively skilled players listed here. Stranges’ game has been described by Elite Prospects as “captivation, frustration, and awe: three emotions that London Knights forward Antonio Stranges inspires, sometimes on the same shift.” The knock on Stranges has been his consistency and his play in his own end.
In 61 games this year, Stranges only has 19 goals and 40 points which is a bit disappointing for a player of his skill level. Stranges had been in contention to be a first-round pick, but he has slowly slipped down the NHL Draft rankings.
“He didn’t have a great year in London. Needs a lot of work in a lot of different areas,” Peters said. “He’s an incredible skater. A very unique skater. He’s a bit on the smaller side. But he’s the kind of guy where it’s like ‘hey if we take a stab late there’s enough skill, enough talent there that if we let him develop and see where he goes we’ll be able to get him into our system and try to reign him in a little bit.'”
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