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Watching the Prospect Watchers: Barzal, Ho-Sang among ESPN’s top NHL prospects

Good grades over the summer.

Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders
We’re watching you, mon ami
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

How’s your summer been? Relaxing? Refreshing? Full of great memories?

Well, for ESPN hockey prospect watcher Corey Pronman, summer means compiling list after list of the best players not in the NHL and posting them for our enjoyment and discussion.

You’re gonna need to fork over the dough to read all three articles in the series via ESPN’s Insider program, but for my money, Pronman’s work is worth it on its own. He clearly watches as many prospects as he can and gives as detailed a picture of a player or team as possible. Yes, any and all prospect talk is merely speculative. Still, his analysis seems as solid and comprehensive as you’ll find.

So, how did the Islanders fare? Pronman ranks their system to be the fourth best in the NHL, behind Philadelphia, Arizona and Nashville. That’s a three place jump from last season. While Pronman admits that a lot of their prospects over the years haven’t worked out, the team is routinely high in his rankings. Extrapolate from that what you will.

Pronman has three Islanders players among his Top 100 NHL prospects: Mathew Barzal, (who he has ranked as the No. 3 prospect in all of hockey), Joshua Ho-Sang (No. 39) and Kieffer Bellows (No. 81). Among goalies, Ilya Sorokin is third and Linus Soderstrom is 14th. He praises Barzal’s puck control and, “elite agility and vision” and says that Ho-Sang and Bellows have NHL skill but also areas in need of improvement. Ho-Sang’s brief stint in the NHL last season made a big difference in his jump in the rankings.

Honorable mention goes to Michael Dal Colle, an often forgotten man in the Islanders pipeline who Pronman says has “loads of offensive potential.” In his extended look at every team’s prospect pool, he likes the looks of defenseman Robin Salo, Sebastian Aho, David Quenneville and Mitch Vande Sompel. Ryan Pulock has an “elite shot,” but needs to improve his overall game if he’s going to stick with the big club this year. If not, some other team will be lurking the weeds waiting for him.

The full articles have much, much more detail on these and additional players from the Islanders and every other team in the NHL. I’m afraid if I include any more info or names here, I’m gonna get an angry email from ESPN’s Worldwide Lawyers in Sports. So pay up. It’s worth it.

The Islanders have had deep prospect pools for a lot years and haven’t translated them into any long playoff runs. Maybe Barzal, Ho-Sang, Pulock and others can finally change that.