The old talents and the special ones. (Also: Some smurf guy.)
Next month, the New York Islanders will usher in a new crop of teenagers into the prospect pipeline, while a few older and younger bodies are left behind. Before we get to that point -- and before we do a pre-draft refresh of the Top 25 Under 25 -- I thought it worth a quick look at the team's depth chart in terms of age, including the pending free agents who may be gone on July 1.
Generally we'd mark the age cutoff at the beginning of the season, or the age at which a player spent the majority of his season. But since this is May and includes players who may be cut loose, they're listed by the age they will be on July 1. So for example, John Tavares will be 22 next season, but we list him at 21 here. (Yes, John Tavares has 84 NHL goals at age 21. What did you accomplish with your life by that age, hmm?) Similarly, P.A. Parenteau was 28 for most of this season, but he's 29 now and is listed as such.
As a backdrop for this, you might enjoy Corey Pronman's Top 100 (now with 25% more!) draft prospects for 2012 -- including where he explains why he has no defensemen in his top five -- to start your dreaming about who will fill into this table next come June:
Islanders Depth Chart by Age
Players in italic are in the system -- or rather, they did not spend the majority of 2011-12 with the NHL club.
Because there is some interest in this, I've also listed which hand the defensemen shoot from -- the parenthetical refers to that, and not necessarily which side they will be best at.
|Cizikas||Halmo||de Haan (l)
*indicates unrestricted free agent on July 1;
Some of the others are also pending RFAs who will need to be qualified by the Monday after the draft
As you'd expect, most of the "hope" is at the top of the table, where prospects are still bright and shiny and unchecked by reality. Lots of italics there, with Nino Niederreiter the only kid up there not in italics. (Will he be in italics next year?)
Basically, everyone in the 23 category and younger are products of the Islanders rebuild drafts which began in 2008. If the theory of the rebuild was to restock the cupboard and stick with those prospects rather than panic deal them like regimes past, we're only now getting to the point where we'll see if more than the special outliers among these kids pay off.
Outside of 21-year-old studs John Tavares and Travis Hamonic (the outliers in question), the best Islanders are in that age 28 range where Frans Nielsen, Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau reside. Notable NHL UFAs in that 27-29 range include P.A. Parenteau himself, as well as, heh, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, Alexander Semin, Matt Carle and Dennis Wideman.
* * *
That's close to 60 names in the table, some of whom are amateurs not yet under contract, and some of whom will be bumped off the list in July. Expect a fresh batch of young pups at the top come June 22-23.