The Natural Born Kirill.
Hockey Prospectus' Corey Pronman has updated his annual prospect organizational rankings (and altered the criteria slightly), and he ranks the New York Islanders system second best in the NHL. It's just one man's opinion -- though he communicates with other scouts in forming his assessment of prospects -- but it does reflect a sentiment we frequently cite around here: That you'll seldom hear anyone in the know rank the Isles system outside the top third of the league.
Pronman on the Isles:
The Islanders have one the deepest systems in the NHL. They have great talent as well, of course, with top forward prospects like Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, and Kirill Kabanov to go along with a very impressive group of defense prospects. They have talent and depth at seemingly every position.
Pronman has always been quite high on Kabanov -- with pretty good reason, we now think -- so that provides some context for you, as some would still let draft-year "character" questions knock Kabanov down a few rungs. He is also still high on Nino Niederreiter -- "stuck [last year] between a rock and a hard place," he said last night -- as well as Niederreiter's draft year Portland teammate and Blue Jackets prospect Ryan Johansen.
Pronman's criteria includes players who did not see 25 NHL games last season (so Aaron Ness, Matt Donovan and Cavlin de Haan are all included) and excludes players like Kirill Petrov who are signed in the KHL past age 22.
He also altered his ranking criteria slightly to put more weight on overall depth (versus top-end talent) than in year's past. He ranks the Isles behind the Panthers, and just ahead of the Red Wings, Wild and Senators.
One of those teams is not like the others. The other four hope they are steadily doing what the outlier has done for the past 20 years.
With the Islanders sticking to a very conservative NHL payroll budget, they'll need this pool of prospects to bear fruit if they hope to succeed.