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Islanders Puck Talk – Barzal wins Calder, potential draft picks

As a New York Islanders fan, or a hockey fan in general, it’s no surprise that Mathew Barzal won the Calder Trophy during Wednesday’s NHL Awards ceremony.  Barzal won in a landslide, garnering 130 of the 134 possible first place votes.  He won it in impressive fashion over fellow rookie studs Brock Boeser and Charlie Keller.  The Calder Trophy is given out to the top rookie during the regular season.

The second order of business for Islanders’ fans this week is the NHL Draft, which starts Friday June 22nd at 7:30 PM.  The Islanders will be wheeling and dealing, as mentioned in my previous article, but will make maybe one of their picks.  I’m not going to break down both picks because I know for a fact that both will not be made. At least one will be used for either a goaltender or a top four defenseman.  However, if the Islanders do not trade both picks, here are some interesting players that may be drafted by the blue and orange.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Assat

Jesperi Kotkaniemi is a 17 year old Finnish prospect with extremely skilled hands and well-rounded offensive skills.  For a young center, he’s extremely good on face-offs and will develop his skating as he grows older.  Elite Prospects has this to say about him:

A smart forward with a dangerous shot, Kotkaniemi possesses a high hockey IQ and determination with the skills to back it up. Positions himself well and often seems to be a step ahead of plays. Stickhandling and creativity allow him to split professional defences as a teenager. Decent size and frame, yet a very capable skater. (Matias Strozyk, 2017)

Barrett Hayton – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Barrett Hayton is another young centerman (18 years old) that is very skilled and can light the lamp.  Hayton is more of a playmaker than Kotkaniemi, who’s more of a goal scorer.  Last season with Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL, Hayton had 60 points in 63 games.  His 39 assists during the season were a career high and the Islanders could use another playmaking center if John Tavares leaves.  It will be a few years before Hayton is ready for the big stage, but it’s a good bet that if he’s still available the Islanders will take him.

Bode Wilde – Undetermined

Once a surefire stalwart on the Michigan Wolverines defense for next season, Bode Wilde decommitted from the Wolverines and will weight his options after the NHL draft.  The youngster is rated as the seventh best defensive prospect in the draft but if he falls to the Islanders they may just want to take him because of his tenacity and competitive edge.  Here’s what Elite Prospects had to say about the Montreal native:

Bode Wilde is a talented and competitive defender that plays a tenacious 200-foot game. His balance and acceleration in-stride is noteworthy and he is never caught in no-man’s land, or doing nothing. He is proactive and hard-nosed in pursuit if puck control, and he reads queues in all three zones naturally and quickly. Defensively, he is a beast and always looks to take time and space away from the opposition. He erases the open lane, keeps opponents to the outside, and is physical along the wall. In-transition, he is able to make that outlet pass or, more than likely, take it up himself to set up the trap. Offensively, he showcases a very hard, accurate shot that leaps off his stick. He can also open up space by way of his skating ability, size, and handling of the puck. Thanks to his quick thinking in making the high-percentage decision, he can be very difficult to read and play against. All-in-all, Wilde is a smart, competitive, and sizey two-way D-man that can provide a team with numbers on the board and stability on the ice. [EP 2018]

Regardless of who the Islanders take, it will be an extremely interesting weekend as the clock is ticking on the John Tavares sweepstakes.  A big trade to bring over a number one goaltender and a top pair defenseman could sway Tavares all the way back to Long Island.  In addition, a coach SHOULD be chosen by the draft but the Islanders could be waiting on Barry Trotz’s decision until after the draft.  It should be a very intriguing 48 hours.  What a time to be alive for Islanders fans.

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