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Top 25 Islanders Under 25: 5th Overall Pick Ryan Strome at #5

The fun part about polling for a top 25 Islanders (amateur and pro) under age 25 before the season starts is, if you drag it out over off days strategically unveil them into the opening weeks of the season, you'll already sense for whom the tenor turns by the time you finish.

If only Blake Comeau were under 25, I wonder where he'd be on this list -- and how much commenters would chastise his rank for his aimless start to 2011-12. If voters in early September could know Kirill Kabanov would not only find a home but start on fire (5-5-10 in six games) in the QMJHL, would he have placed higher than 11?

As for Ryan Strome, this past summer's 5th overall pick, well nothing's changed: He didn't get any NHL game action, but back in the OHL he's picked up right where he left off with 8-7-15 in 11 games for Niagara. He's at #5 on our 25U25 list, which I guess is a sign we like shiny new things.

This process was more about benchmarking a spectrum of opinion on where the value or ability of Islanders properties -- again, both amateur and pro -- rank now. But just as no discussion of Niederreiter happens without an eye toward who was drafted behind him in 2010, no discussion of Strome goes far without an eye toward those the Islanders skipped at the draft table.

One popular candidate from the summer, Dougie Hamilton, is still in juniors and filed away in the "defensemen take time, we won't know for several years" drawer. Perhaps the biggest comparison who stands out is Sean Couturier, who was viewed as an all-around player with possible skating limitations in the Q, and has put up 5-3-8 in with a curious +9 in 14 games with the NHL Flyers.

From the outside, it appears the Islanders were chasing more high-end offensive talent in Strome, versus the two-way projection and "already understands defense" reputation Couturier had. It's not fair to judge him by who came after in any case, but certainly not five weeks into an NHL season.

For now, at a very early stage, Strome remains on track as the dynamic offensive center (or maybe wing, later?) the Isles drafted. That he places so high on our list -- above fellow 5th overall pick Nino Niederreiter by the thinnest of hairs -- is a sign of how high hopes are for him, how important to the rebuild he better be.

Time will tell.

How We Voted

Top 25 Under 25 mikb M11 CIL Dom KQ Web/Mark
Ryan Strome
6 6 2 5 2 5

For this first edition, we polled LHH authors Keith, WebBard (Mark D), mikb, myself, and two particularly prospect-focused LHH regulars, CanadianIslesLifer and MatthewM11. We wanted enough to get a decent number of voters but not so much that we make the first run unwieldy. It is absolutely unscientific but with varied enough votes to get us thinking about who are the best hockey players now, balanced with who has the best potential/value long-term.

Previous Posts in This Top 25 Islanders Under 25 Series

The Top 25 under 25 is an idea conceived by Oilers blog Copper & Blue and copied elsewhere, incorporated here by popular demand. We cut it off at players who were under 25 going into this season, so Andrew MacDonald, having just turned 25 this month, barely misses eligibility.