The Islanders defensive depth was certainly tested last season as Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan both missed long periods of time. The injuries were not limited to the NHL club as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were without their top defenseman Devon Toews for 36 games. Sebastian Aho, the 2017 5th-round pick, was called up to fill in for the injured defenseman. It left a void to fill in Bridgeport. Enter Mitchell Vande Sompel.
The 2015 3rd-round pick’s first professional season got better as the year went on. He was rewarded with a trip to the AHL All-Star Game, where he would net three goals in the three-game tournament. He would finish his rookie season with seven goals, 22 assists in 58 games. A shoulder injury cost him most of February. Even with missing time, Vande Sompel finished in the top five rookie scoring for AHL defensemen.
Vande Sompel’s offensive ability has never been an issue. He’s what the Islanders desperately need, a fast defenseman with high-end puck moving abilities. It’s whether he can button up his defensive play away from the puck. He’s never out of place on defense. His physical play was too inconsistent. The Islanders have plenty of left-handed defensemen in their system. An advantage Vande Sompel has is that he played most of last season on the right side.
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Reason for ranking
Mitchell Vande Sompel is probably the most underrated piece in the Islanders system. He’s got better age adjusted AHL-NHL equivalencies than any other defenseman in the Islanders system, is an incredibly illusive skater, has a great pass and probably better hockey I.Q. than Aho and Toews.
Vande Sompel is one of the numerous fleet-footed, smallish LD puck-movers in the Islanders prospect pool. Registered at 5’10, 191 pounds, he can skate and his offensive talent is obvious; however, questions regarding his defense remain.
Heading into the season, Vande Sompel appears to be the 9th or 10th defensemen on the depth chart. The opportunity presented itself in Bridgeport last season and he took it. There is a likely possibility it presents itself with the Islanders this season.
Previously on the Summer 2018 Top 25 Under 25
- #16 David Quenneville is small but rounded
- #17 Ruslan Iskhakov brings skill, not size, to UConn
- #18 Athletic but inconsistent young goalie Jakub Skarek
- #19 Skill and size but speed questions for Otto Koivula
- #20 A make or break year for Michael Dal Colle
- #21 Questions about Anatoly Golyshev
- #22 New left wing Blade Jenkins
- #23 Switzerland’s Yannick Rathgeb
- #24 Young Finn Robin Salo
- #25 Solid defenseman Kyle Burroughs
- The Roster Cuts