I don't trust goalies anymore. They're too unpredictable, too prone to fluctuations in numbers and performance that may or may not be their doing, and they wear funny pads -- pads that, even with recent restrictions, still take up yards and yards more space than the ones Billy Smith wore.
That said, I'm not going to pretend the Islanders don't have a couple of nice prospects in goal who had the kind of promising years you hope for them at this point in their development.
(And, in a related story, I'm glad the Isles have started stockpiling goalies just in case ... because goodness we've seen you need to break that emergency glass from time to time, with or without Rick DiPietro.)
So next on our Top 25 Islanders Under 25 list is Anders Nilsson, one of those goalies who had a good year and makes a fan guardedly optimistic about the position going forward.
After a tough start for the Sound Tigers sorted itself out and the three-goalie rotation was alleviated with Mikko Koskinen's loan back to Europe, Nilsson and Kevin Poulin took turns shining.
Nilsson went on a run to match Poulin's and took the AHL Goaltender of the Month honor for February. He followed that up with an NHL recall and two stingy games against the Devils, the first making him the only goalie in Islanders history to earn a shutout in his first
start win [ed.: corrected].
Certainly if he fulfills his potential, you're looking at huge goalie who takes up a lot of space and has gotten much better at moving laterally
Was Nilsson's 10-0-1 AHL February real, his progress legit? He thought so, and told Newsday at the time:
"I feel like a different goaltender than when I first got here [in July for the rookie minicamp]," Nilsson said. "That was like a lifetime ago.''
And that is why goalies are so hard to peg. They develop later, we ascribe deep meaning to "clutch" saves while overlooking fortunate caroms, and sometimes their teams are big influences on what happens: Note that Poulin and Nilsson took turns with the Goalie of the Month as the Sound Tigers completely turned their season around through a magical elixir consumed on New Year's Eve.
On that note, Nilsson was selected after Mikko Koskinen in the 2009 draft. Koskinen was two years older and seen as further along, more developed, more ready to step into a pro role. Certainly Koskinen's season-wrecking hip surgery played a big part in their changing fortunes, but regardless it's the way things go that the younger Nilsson and Poulin (also 22 now) are further up the depth chart today.
What will next season bring in the next volume of the Islanders goalie chronicles?
How We Voted
This is a fun part of the ballot (in my eyes) because I penalize goalies thanks to average ones being readily available in the NHL and thanks to young ones not having smooth development curves. But everyone values them a little differently:
Panelists: CanadianIslesLifer making a return appearance, as well as most of the authors at LHH.
Note: For those LHH readers who sent their own selections in, JPinVA has them summarized in this FanPost. That one will be fun to measure against our panelists' results.
You can see which other prospects just missed our top 25 in this preview post. Koskinen didn't make the top 25, appearing on only two of our top 25 ballots -- no doubt influenced by concerns about his loan and pending restricted free agency.
- At #25 was 2011 pick John Persson
- #24 saw another Swede from 2011, Johan Sundstrom
- At #23, the irritant known as Justin DiBenedetto
- #22: Kirill Petrov, with an asterisk
- #21: Brenden Kichton, Western late bloomer
- #20: Anders Lee, loophole guy?
- #19: Big Scott Mayfield
- #18: Rhett Rakshani, Queen of Funk
- #17: Aaron Ness, Mini-Me Rising
- Our September 2011 25U25 Poll Results
Disclaimer You'll See with Each 25U25 Post
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.