Aatu Raty and William Dufour among Islanders prospects to watch this season

The New York Islanders haven’t had a very deep prospect pool in a long time. While Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom are two of the team’s most recent NHL prospects, they are the only players chosen by the Islanders after 2015 to have played at least 100 NHL games.

There should be some confidence about the team’s chances as the season begins. Two years after being taken in the fifth round of the 2020 Draft, William Dufour has emerged as a prominent prospect for the squad. The forward is coming off a Memorial Cup victory after scoring 56 goals and 116 points in 66 games with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, earning him QMJHL MVP honors.

Earned the Gold

This summer, he earned Gold with Canada at the World Juniors, earning three goals and seven points in seven games. Another notable name to keep an eye on is Aatu Raty, whom the Islanders drafted in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft. This past season, the attacker demonstrated why he was considered a possible first-round choice in the first place, scoring 13 goals and 41 points in 47 games while playing in Finland’s top professional league. He subsequently had a strong performance in the World Juniors, scoring three goals and ten points in seven games to lead Finland to a Silver Medal.

Dufour is 20 years old, while Raty will be 20 in November. Both should join the Bridgeport Islanders this season, where we’ll get a clearer idea of how close they are to NHL play.

We should also see Robin Salo contend for a permanent berth in the NHL (though, at nearly 24 years old, it’s dubious if the label “prospect” applies to Salo). Salo appeared in 21 games for the New York Rangers this season, and with Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene out, Salo should have a good chance to get playing time on the left side of the defense group.

keep an eye on Simon Holmstrom and Samuel Bolduc

In the AHL, keep an eye on Simon Holmstrom and Samuel Bolduc. Holmstrom made a significant leap this season, scoring 12 goals and 43 points in 68 games with Bridgeport, and while Bolduc’s stats dropped from the 2021 season, the 2019 second-round selection remains a fine defenseman. Ruslan Iskhakov, who was drafted 43rd overall by New York in 2018, will also join Bridgeport following two seasons of professional hockey in Europe.

While there aren’t many more high-profile names in the Islanders’ prospect pool, there are a few others to keep an eye on. Eetu Liukas and Matias Rajaniemi, both later-round choices, also won Silver with Finland, with Raty. The Islanders also signed defender Calle Odelius to a three-year, entry-level deal a few weeks ago, and their first-round pick this year. Odelius was chosen 65th overall and had a successful junior hockey career in Sweden. This season, he’ll make the transition to professional hockey.

While the Islanders’ prospect pool is far from elite, the team appears to be producing some promising young players. There are quite a few names to keep an eye on heading into the season, and while it’s doubtful that any will make the squad out of camp, some may not be as far off as would’ve been predicted only a year ago.

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