Editor's Note: Always looking forward, BCISLEMAN gathers profiles for the currently projected top prospects in next June's draft, asking whom you'd want if the Islanders hit the podium early. If you're looking at this on the front page, there's a lot more info after the jump (which is after the poll).
By now, most Islander fans are realizing that their early season playoff hopes will not be realized this year. In fact, it is looking more and more like the Islanders will have one of the top two picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
At the time of the 2009 draft, slick, skilled Red Deer Rebel center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was widely regarded as the favorite to go first overall in 2011. Since then, he has been overtaken by Skelleftea AIK defenseman Adam Larsson and Drummondville Voltiguers center Sean Couturier who now seem to be the consensus top two picks. Recently Kitchener Ranger forward Gabriel Landeskog has burst onto the scene ala Matt Duchene. These four are on most top five lists. Niagara Ice Dog defenseman Dougie Hamilton, a favorite of several LHH bloggers and named in the top five of both NHL.COM mock drafts, rounds out the top five.
I will revisit this after the trading deadline passes. By that time, the Islander draft position in June should be much clearer and we will know what, if any, additional draft picks the team will have acquired. Also, with the WJCs and much of the regular junior / SEL seasons behind us, we will have a better idea of how these prospects stack up against each other.
Adam Larsson 6'3", 210lb D, Skelleftea AIK
Superb two way defender. Powerful and fluid skater. Pivots, stops, and recovers extremely well. Cannon for a shot and a quick release when needed. Very skilled at seeing the ice, identifying, and using passing lanes. Not afraid to get physical. Very intelligent, poised, and mature. Debuted in the Swedish Elite League at age 16 two years ago, and last season, his first full campaign in the SEL, he had 17 points in 49 games, tops among the league's junior-age players. He was voted the best defenseman at April's World Under-18 Championship, after he had 3 points in five games to help Sweden to a silver medal.
Sean Couturier 6'4", 191lb C, Drummondville Voltigeurs
Excels as a two way center. Couturier won the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the scoring champion of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Drummondville Voltigeurs last season with 41 goals and 55 assists in 68 games.
Gabriel Landeskog 6', 207lb W, Kitchener Rangers
Tough, feisty, and physical forward. Landeskog was named captain of the Rangers this season, his second in the OHL. Prior to being named Kitchener's Rookie of the Year and becoming a member of the OHL's All-Rookie First Team in 2009-10 after producing 24 goals and 46 points in 61 games, he was the youngest player (16 years, 90 days) to suite up for Djurgarden in the Swedish Elite League.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 6', 155lb C, Red Deer Rebels
Very skilled in all aspects. Exceptional skater, playmaker, and puckhandler. Sees the ice very well, has great acceleration, and a quick release. As a rookie last season, Nugent-Hopkins finished second on the team in scoring with 65 points, including 24 goals, in 67 games to earn WHL's Rookie of Year Award and help the Rebels reach the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Dougie Hamilton 6'4", 190lb D, Niagara Ice Dogs
Smart, poised two way defender with a long reach. In his first season with Niagara in 2009-10, Hamilton produced 3 goals, 13 assists and 36 penalty minutes in 64 games, earning OHL Second-Team All-Rookie honors and the team's Rookie of the Year award.