A Look Ahead To Some Top Rated 2012 Prospects

I have said that I believe it would be better for the Islanders to finish between 10th and 12th place in the Eastern Conference as opposed to going the 'Fail for Nail' route and trying to get a top-five lottery pick for this summer's 2012 Entry Draft. But if the season ended today, the Isles would go into the lottery with the fifth overall pick. Although that is the least likely position to be in when hoping to move up to number one, the Islanders are almost guaranteed to at least have a selection in this year's top 10 class.

With the playoff picture painting itself out on a permanent canvas over the next two weeks, let's put ourselves in the shoes of some NHL scouts and take a quick glance at what the Islanders will be looking at in between game 82 and draft day.

Nail Yakupov is the clear choice for first overall, having a lot of Alexander Ovechkin comparisons made about his play. After Nail comes Mikhail Grigorenko, who has often been compared to Evgeni Malkin. Both of these Russian prospects will probably be out of the Islanders grasp barring a significant change on the day of the lottery. After these two goal-scoring forwards lie plenty of top-rated defenseman.

GM Garth Snow has always said that you go with the best player available as opposed to taking a player based on your teams' needs - and I completely agree. This year it might work out for the Islanders that they can draft a stud on the blue line to compliment developing prospects Ryan Strome, Nino Niederreiter, Casey Cizikas, David Ullstrom and Kirill Kabanov. (Photo Credit: Matthew Kruchak/Flickr)

TSN's Bob McKenzie has referred to Everret Silvertips defenseman, Ryan Murray as an all-around player ranked for the number three spot. The WHL d-man has put up between 27 and 46 points in his young career and has held impressive +/- stats as well and weighs in at 6 feet and 185 pounds, likely to only get bigger. Following Murray is Matthew Dumba, who appears to be a more offensive minded defenseman for the WHL's Red Deer Rebels. Currently Dumba has 20 goals and 57 points from the blue line but is only 166 pounds to go with his 6-foot frame. Clearly, adding muscle would have to be a priority for his development going forward.

From the United States National Development Team comes Jacob Trouba, a 6'1, 183 pound mobile defender who has 17 points in 20 games while playing in the USHL. Morgan Rielly is considered to be the offensive weapon from the back end in this year's draft class as well, currently holding 18 points in 18 games for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL. He tore up his knee early in the year and has been limited to a short season, but that hasn't stopped scouts from predicting Rielly to land somewhere around the 8th spot in this year's draft.

These are just a few of the defensive prospects that might fall into the Islanders' lap by the end of June. It's always beneficial to know that the depth charts for the Islanders will continue to get better after a disappointing season.

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On a side note, Larry Brooks from the New York Post wrote an article today that claims the Islanders are an irrelevant team to the NHL based on some opinions he's formed over the course of the season. Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey wrote an excellent piece that critiques the article and finds fault in a lot of his claims. I recommend you all give it a read and see how a blogger can provide transparency better than one of the mainstream guys.

-Rob McGowan
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