A Look At The Islanders Right Wingers "Down On The Farm"
All New York Islanders fans know what we have at the center position. For the most part, the Isles have it nice down the middle, not just now, but in the future. In addition to current Islander mainstays like John Tavares, Frans Nielsen and Casey Cizikas, there is also Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Ryan Strome waiting to step into the lineup.
But what about on the wings?
There is the weakness of the Isles system. It is why hockey's future has the Isles ranked sixth and not any higher. That weakness is most keen on right wing.
A quick check of hockey's future will tell you that New York has three prospects on right wing. Is it that dire? Let's see:
Of the three on hockey's future, one has been with the Isles almost all season. That winger is David Ullstrom, who is a speedy skater capable of chipping in some goals here and there.
Ullstrom is most effective when he's skating hard and working the forecheck to create turnovers. When he is on, he's also a pest and easily gets under the skin of opponents, all the while playing a clean game. (Photo credit: islanders.nhl.com)
When Ullstrom is doing these little things, that's when he is creating his best offense. Forcing turnovers and converting them to offense is the hallmark of the young Swede.
Unfortunately, for Ullstrom and New York, his offensive upside is limited. He will get his points, but it isn't likely Ullstrom will be a team leader in scoring on a good team.
He also has a tendency to vanish for stretches. Typically with Ullstrom, if you aren't noticing him flying around the rink creating havoc, you aren't noticing him.
Also at hockey's future is Kirill Petrov. The talented winger from Kaza, Russia, was a skater that General Manager Garth Snow took a flyer on when he was selected in the third round of the 2008 draft. (Photo credit: islanders.nhl.com)
Petrov has just about everything a hockey team would want in a winger. He is fast. He is strong. He is talented offensively and has great size. Petrov has good on ice vision and is hard to knock off of the puck. What's more, the Islanders want him playing for them sooner rather than later. So, what's the hold up? Namely, the young man signed a contract with AK Bars of the KHL and the Isles haven't been able to pry the talented skater away from Russia. If the Isles can get him signed to a contract and delivered to Nassau, he could very well be part of the solution at wing.
Listed on hockey's future is another Kirill, this one being Kirill Kabanov. This Kirill, who is also Russian, played his junior hockey in North America and is fluent in English and Russian. Hockey's future rates him even higher than Petrov. Kabanov is an energy guy with some serious wheels who has good scoring touch and absolutely electric skills. Early, there were maturity concerns. Enough for the talented young man to fall to the third round in the 2010 draft. Lately, his development has been slowed by some injuries he has faced. Even with his talent, he is a bit of a project and will likely need another season in Bridgeport before he will be ready to join the big club. (Photo credit: islanders.nhl.com)
Not listed on hockey's future, but right wingers the Islanders have under contract, are Sean Backman and Blair Riley. The former is a 5'8" skater who mostly likely grades out as a bottom six forward and the latter is a physical player who like Backman is a bottom pair type of player. The downside to both of these gentlemen is that they are older (Backman will be 27 in April and Riley is already 27) and on the last year of their contract.
A silver lining might be found among the young centers we have. Lee and Nelson have the skill set to be able to shift to the wing, particularly with Lee, who has some experience there. Also, it remains to be seen what the Islanders will do in the offseason or in the draft, although most all draftees need a few years of seasoning before they are ready to contribute in the NHL.
All considered, it would be very fortunate for the Islanders if both Kirills could reach their potential with the big club and join Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner and Colin McDonald on the right side.
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