*It feels weird to type that number next to any Islander but The One who took it out of circulation.
Reasons to like John Persson: Decent hands, has size and uses it well, his "hockey sense" is rated well. He was a big part of Bridgeport's team, finishing third behind Nino Niederreiter and Brock Nelson with 17 goals despite injuries limiting him to 65 games. (Nelson played 66, Nino 74. All three shot in the 12-13% range.)
Reasons to temper enthusiasm: Skating is the final hurdle for him. If that remains a hurdle ... well that's the kiss of death of so many prospects.
He turned 21 just this past May, so he's not old yet and his progress since being drafted as a sleeper pick (2011, 5th round, 125th) has been promising. His injury this year was felt by the Sound Tigers, and was really the only knock on his first pro season.
I'm a poor judge of the nuances of skating at this level and have mostly seen highlights of him doing things well, so I'm the last person to call whether those finer points will equate to the NHL level. If they do, the Islanders have a player.
Since I was the highest on him in our Top 25 Islanders Under 25 votes, I figured I owed that explanation. Here is how our full panel ranked him:
A sampling of rationales:
Keith o' Enforcerdom:
I ranked Persson low, but am much higher on him than this. He has size and strength and hands and is willing to do some dirty work. He formerly played on a wing with Nugent-Hopkins, so he does have some potential around playmakers. Hopefully his skating translates to the NHL level.
Mike o' FIGs:
His size sure helps, and he's been a "plus" player in Bridgeport. But at 21, I don't know how much higher his ceiling can be.
Could be a useful 4th liner. If not, Tomas Marcinko.
That's cold, man.
Persson had good chemistry this year with fellow Swedes Johan Sundstrom and David Ullstrom (when all were healthy). Here is a simple example of him doing things right on a 2-on-1:
Persson was among the "Black Aces" recalled from Bridgeport for the Islanders' playoff run, a small but real sign that they like his progress.
Until this past season, the Islanders bottom six forwards had been an issue for several years. If players like Persson pan out -- always, if -- it will be a strength.