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New York Islanders Top 25 Under 25: Stephon Williams at #21

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Was a mid-season ECHL demotion the "kick in the butt" the goalie needed?

Looking for a shot.
Looking for a shot.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Three years after they were selected in the same 2013 draft, former USHL Waterloo creasemates Stephon Williams and Eamon McAdam are set to be teammates again after McAdam left Penn State to turn pro at the end of this season.

They're also right next to each other in our Spring 2016 Islanders Top 25 Under 25.

Williams is a year and a half older, so he already has a full pro season under his belt after three years at Minnesota-Mankato. McAdam finished his first year as the primary starter at Penn State before joining Bridgeport at the end of his junior year.

Our 25U25 votes tend to weigh "who's better right now" with "who has more potential for impact." With that in mind, Williams (21 in our countdown) gets credit for pro experience -- i.e. "Could he serve now in an emergency?" -- though it hasn't indicated an NHL future. McAdam (22 in our countdown) gets leeway for being earlier in the age curve, with his full pro career ahead of him.

Long Road Ahead

Of course, it's a long, challenging road for goalies, especially those drafted with longshot NHL prospects..

The Islanders organizational goalie picture only got more crowded this year with the preseason acquisitions of Christopher Gibson and Jean-Francois Berube. Gibson took the reins with 42 starts, and even Berube -- though with the Isles all season to protect him from waivers -- played five games on a conditioning stint. Fellow NCAA product Parker Milner was also in the picture and got some time when Williams was sent to ECHL Missouri.

But overall, Williams' season exhibited steady improvement, culminating in landing two of the three playoff starts.

As he said in Michael Fornabaio's must-read annual season wrap:

It was tough, but knowing that I was learning the game, I went along, knowing I was getting better helped out. I think after I got sent down and called back up, it was kind of a kick in the butt. I didn't want to go back down. Now I know what it takes to stay here.

Coach Brent Thompson, in the same story, said Williams "came back a different goalie" from Missouri.

In terms of altering his long-term prospects i's not much, but it's progress -- something he'll need to build on next season, the final year of his ELC.

How We Voted, and a Little Why

King (CIL) Keith Mike B. McNally Garik Dominik Leboff Les
22 18 -
- 17
21 24 18

The following thoughts from our panel fairly sum up rating goalies like this.

Les (HockeyGoalieEh) with the summation:

Stephon Williams has a good year every other season and has all the consistency of isopropyl alcohol. I gave him a better ranking because numbers are superior to those of J.F. Berube and Chris Gibson, he's younger, and goalies can magically improve at any time, though that's not necessarily any reason to keep a young goalie around as the same can be said for any of them.

David King (CanadianIslesLifer):

Williams has a long road ahead of him if he is to someday realize his dream of becoming an NHL goal tender. I'm not sure that will ever happen with the Islanders, given how far down the goalie depth chart he ranks.

Keith:

Here is another goalie.

Indeed. And there are more to come on this countdown.

Previously on the Spring '16 25U25