New York Islanders Prospect-Gazing, Part I: The Top 15

Are you a center or a wing? >> "Yes."

We didn't finish posting our pre-draft Top 25 Islanders Under 25 (but we'll get to it...honest!), but we got through all the non-NHLers and up to #5, Josh Bailey. (You can see 25 through 5 in that list, then infer the top 4 as ranked before the 2012 NHL Draft.)

As previously discussed after the draft, Corey Pronman at Hockey Prospectus also named the Islanders' the second-best system -- while conceding the top five systems could be ranked in almost any order. Today Pronman has his full rationale and top 10 ranking for Islanders prospects, so it's a good occasion to compare lists and insights.

(As we often note when comparing lists or referencing Pronman, it's not that we declare him the best or the Chief Guru or possessing infallibility or something, it's that he's one of the few who bothers to go in-depth into his rationale for his rankings, thus making further discussion worthwhile. All opinionators should be so detailed.)

Anyway, here's a comparison of our lists, with a few select quotes from Pronman -- such as why Casey Cizikas is rising and why he senses Ryan Strome is destined to remain a center:

Top 10 15 Prospect Lists

*Note: The LHH list was pre-draft, so excludes Griffin Reinhart and Ville Pokka.

Also, our top 25U25 list included NHLers and Nino Niederreiter, but for the ranking below we've removed them to make it conform with Pronman's prospect-only list.

Finally, it's worth noting our 25U25 list favors ability to contribute to an NHL squad today. In theory.

Rank LHH* Pronman
1 Strome Strome
2 Donovan Kabanov
3 Cizikas Nelson
4 Poulin Donovan
5 Nelson de Haan
6 de Haan Reinhart
7 Kabanov Mayfield
8 Nilsson Sundstrom
9 Ness Lee
10 Mayfield Pokka
11 Lee Cizikas
12 Kichton Ness
13 Sundstrom Kichton
14 Persson Russo
15 Russo Persson

Pronman on Strome:

Strome's strength level is still his main issue. While it's better than last year, he's still not at the point where he can play physically with pro-level players.

This is why, despite his high upside, more of us ranked Strome behind the five regular pros in our Top 25 Under 25, which is weighted more toward pro-readiness than future upside.

As for Strome's future at center or wing, here's Pronman again:

a common question I get is can Strome play the wing. He can, he has, but based on my observations and from many people I've asked in the industry, he projects to be and is much more effective as a center.

As for overall rankings and why Pronman had the Isles system so high:

There's a reason why fourth overall pick Griffin Reinhart is slotted at #6, fast rising Casey Cizikas is at #11 and notable goalie prospects Kevin Pouin and Anders Nilsson don't make an appearance on the top 15, and that is due to the depth and quality of the prospects in this system. The Islanders have significant talent and depth at every position with no real weakness to point out.

It's not the stuff that $110 million offers are made of, but in lieu of such funds, it's a start.

Organizational Top 10

Plenty more to read in Pronman's article, but one addendum bonus in the same article is his own top 10 under 23. A comparison of his with ours (once again, we've eliminated the older guys from our list to make the standard the same as Pronman's. Also once again, our list was made before the 2012 Draft.):

Rank LHH Pronman
1 Tavares Tavares
2 Hamonic Hamonic
3 Bailey Strome
4 Strome Kabanov
5 Donovan Niederreiter
6 Cizikas Bailey
7 Poulin Nelson
8 Nelson Donovan
9 de Haan de Haan
10 Niederreiter Reinhart

Our list was pre-Reinhart, and obviously we saw Cizikas as a little more valuable in terms of present-day effectiveness. But we'll see who makes the team in the fall. Kabanov falls off our list by this ranking and Niederreiter just barely makes it; if those two turn out the way Pronmans sees, the Islanders have good reason to clear wing spots in the near future.

Pronman's rationale on this list -- he's not worried about Niederreiter's top-six potential, and he's guardedly hopeful about Bailey as a wing -- is also worth a look at the end of that article.

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