For the second year in a row, Johan Sundstrom (2011, 2nd round, 50th overall) started off nicely before an injury hampered his season (something of a refrain for some of these 25U25ers). When he's in the lineup with AHL Bridgeport, he's put up about .5 points per game so far in 99 AHL games, including a fair share where he was still working his way back, and without any power play inflation.
It's staying in that lineup that makes getting a good read on his abilities difficult. By most accounts he is a smart player, defensively responsible. But the Islanders' crowded center depth may mean an adjustment to the wing if he is to stick. Still, a big right-handed center would be nice to have if he can put it together.
In Bridgeport he got a taste of both, though during the brief 11-game callup at the end of the season it was a rotation of bottom-six wing and brief faceoff duty. What we saw was good service, but of course incomplete.
The jury is still well out, as Sundstrom well knows. Here was his reflection on the season in Michael Fornabaio's season wrap at his Soundin' Off blog for the Connecticut Post:
It’s a second year. A lot of turnover and changes, new guys. That happens. For me, it was a good year, mostly mentally. Getting through everything I had, with some injuries, sickness, I did good. I played a few games up in the NHL, came down here, finished it off with two games. It was a season you can look back and say you learned a lot.
So what’d you learn?
Living day by day. Don’t take anything for granted. As soon as a game’s over, review it for a few minutes, and you have to be able to shut it down and don’t look back.
By our composite ranking, we had him 17th in this spring's Top 25 New York Islanders Under 25. Here is our spread of votes...
|CIL||Keith||Mike B.||Mark||Mike L.||Chris||Dom|
...and a few notes on why:
Had an impressive showing centering the Isles eighth line (the fourth line of Bridgeport with Gallant and Johnson). Geez, his fancy stats were outstanding all things considered.
Health issues have really hurt Sundstrom's development and lowered his prospect value. As a result, I am not as bullish on Sundstrom as I once was. If he can stay healthy, you have a RC with size, who is very good at the positional defensive game, has good possession numbers and can also play RW. A healthy Sundstrom should push Cizikas for the 4th line centre position.
Barely played, so who the heck knows? I don't get to watch enough Sound Tigers games to really know how he's done and if he's got a shot at the Big Show.
Finally, Chris closes us out:
My sincerest apologies, Johan. I meant to have you ranked ahead of the 2013 F draftees, so being #23 on my list is a gaffe on my part.
I'll also apologize for continuing to compare you to Frans Nielsen. Since you were drafted, I touted you as Frans' future replacement and maybe that isn't fair.
Your step back offensively in the A last year concerns me, as did your brief stint on the Island, where I thought you frequently looked lost. But your possession numbers have me thinking that you can still possibly be the next Nielsen Lite.