Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus put together a list of the top 50 players under the age of 23 who have played at least 25 games last season or 50 games total in the NHL and two Islanders cracked the list. It shouldn’t be hard to guess who they are either as John Tavares came in ranked No. 2 and Travis Hamonic came in at No. 20 with Nino Niederreiter getting an honorable mention.
Here’s more from Hockey Prospectus:
2. John Tavares, Center, New York Islanders
These next three players were hard to order, and I could see a legitimate argument for any of them to be #2. I ended up siding with Tavares because on a scouting level, I’ve always been blown away by him and I can’t begin a Tavares write-up without remembering discussions I had with scouts in 2008 and 2009 referring to him as a generational prospect. He is a special talent with the kind of offensive sense you don’t find often and has improved his skating since turning pro. The only argument against him right now would be that it would be preferable to see him produce at a high level without the high offensive zone starts, but the quality of teammates argument somewhat counteracts that.
20. Travis Hamonic, Defense, New York Islanders
There are players like Justin Faulk who when drafted, you say, “If he improves in areas A and B a lot, I could see a top player” but I’d be lying if I would have made that argument for Hamonic. Even during his last season in major junior I thought he would top out as a quality second pairing player due to unimpressive offensive skill. Hamonic has been outstanding in his first two NHL seasons, and while he has not killed it offensively, he is still young and that could improve as he enters his prime. Hamonic’s defensive game has looked high-end, though, and he should be a top pairing defenseman for many years.
As the Islanders continue to build themselves into a more legitimate contender it would be preferable to see them with more players on this list, but if you buy into what Pronman wrote than they at least have an exciting young core. The crazy thing is that both players have already been very impressive in the NHL and by the time the Islanders move to Brooklyn they will just be entering their primes. If this team can continue to develop a few supporting players and invest some real money into the payroll, they could be legit contenders by the time they hit the Barclays Center ice.