This next one on our Islanders Top 25 Under 25 is interesting because if he has any NHL future, it projects as "annoying shift disturber" rather than "hey, might be a surprise middle sixer."
Justin DiBenedetto didn't get a recall from Bridgeport in 2011-12 and is one of the older figures in our Isles Under 25 pool, with his 24th birthday looming in August. But he showed up on most of our ballots and mostly in the same range.
Panelists: CanadianIslesLifer making a return appearance, as well as most of the authors at LHH.
It appears consideration was given to the fact he is a working pro who has done well in Bridgeport -- and whose agitation skills are among the best in the biz. I mean, opponents haaaaate this guy, on a level that would earn his own Chappelle skit. He also had another solid year in AHL Bridgeport, though the counting stats are aided by powerplay time he is unlikely to receive in the NHL:
|Justin DiBenedetto ||GP||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||PPG||SHG||SOG||PCT|
A 6th-round (175th overall) pick in 2008 as part of the Islanders Sarnia trio, DiBenedetto doesn't bring a whole lot of size but plays big and feisty. You certainly don't have this kind of player for his fighting, but a player of his style certainly ends up in a handful of fights as tensions rise and patience expires. His progress in the AHL has been as you'd expect for his age and profile, though some injuries have limited his games played the past two seasons.
His entry level contract (ELC) expires this summer, so the Islanders will have to make a decision on whether to retain him by issuing a qualifying offer that gives him a modest raise on his NHL salary. But he is the kind of depth that is both "known" and worth keeping for more restricted servitude. Should be a no-brainer.
Disclaimers and Links You'll See with Each 25U25 Post
You can see which other prospects just missed our top 25 in this preview post. Others:
As you'll see with players in this 20-25 range, there's enough difference of opinion -- and uncertainty -- that some of them made ballots and some didn't.
To reflect the variety of ways you can place value on prospects with uncertain futures, we brought a range of philosophies to this: Some voters valued present talent/maturity more, some valued future potential more. All are averaged with the intent of capturing a moment in time in the evolution of the Islanders prospect pipeline.