Corey Pronman’s NHL pipeline rankings: Islanders No. 27 have potential star in Dobson

The Islanders haven’t made a first-round pick in three years, and the first pick before that, Simon Holmstrom, has been developing well. Luckily, Noah Dobson has developed into a proper young top-flight defenseman, William Dufour looks like a great mid-round pick, and they’ve added Alexander Romanov by trade.

Key graduate: Robin Salo

Key Addition: Alexander Romanov

Ranking 2021: n°27

2022 NHL Draft Score: C

Full 2022-23 NHL Pipeline Rankings

Ranking of players

1. Noah Dobson, D

22 years old | 6 feet 4 inches | 184 pounds | Pull right

Drafted: No. 12 in 2018
Rank: Top roster player

Skating: NHL Average
Puck skills: below NHL average
Hockey acumen: above NHL average
Competition: NHL average
Shooting: above NHL average

Analysis: Dobson had a stellar season, scoring 50 points and playing a major role for the Islanders blue line. He’s a big, mobile straight shooter who can generate a lot of controlled outs and ins due to his mobility and passing. His offense isn’t always the flashiest type, but he makes a lot of plays and has a hard hit. I don’t consider Dobson to be overly physical, but with his reach and feet he will be good defensively in the league even if he isn’t picking up any tough minutes yet. He looks on track to be a long-term first pair defender with a chance to be a star.

2. William Dufour, RA

20 years | 6 feet 2 inches | 195 pounds | Pull right

Drafted: No. 152 in 2020
Level: Middle roster player

Skating: below NHL average
Puck Skills: NHL Average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Competition: NHL average
Shooting: high-end

Analysis: Dufour had a great season, being named the QMJHL MVP and Memorial Cup MVP. His attacking skills are evident. Dufour is a big, highly skilled winger who can shake things up inside the attacking zone. On the power play, he’s dangerous because of his top-range shooting that can beat goalkeepers consistently from points while still being able to make plays. His skating is just okay, lacking NHL speed. His efforts during his junior career have never been a selling point either, although he has been better at it this season. Dufour projects as a second-line winger with a chance to be a major value pick by the Islanders mid-round.

3. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW

22 years old | 6 feet 2 inches | 211 pounds | Pull right

Drafted: No. 11 in 2018
Level: Middle roster player

Skating: below NHL average
Puck Skills: NHL Average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Competition: Below NHL average
Shooting: high-end

Analysis: Wahlstrom was up and down this season for the Islanders in his second NHL campaign. His attacking skills are beyond doubt. He has great individual skill, can make tough plays on his teammates, and his shot is a ranged weapon. However, Wahlstrom may struggle to drive the game on his own, due to average foot speed and in-and-out competitions. I see a long-term second line winger even with those warts because of those attacking talents.

4. Alexander Romanov, D

22 years old | 6 feet 1 | 209 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 38 in 2018
Level: Middle roster player

Skating: Above NHL average
Puck skills: below NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Competition: high end

Analysis: Romanov had his ups and downs as a Canadian, but he was strong to finish the season and was traded in the draft to the Islanders. He is a solid defender due to his great mobility and physicality. He can fill gaps at a high level and is capable of killing a lot of plays. I don’t think there will ever be much offense from him. He can skate pucks and make a good first pass, so he should be skilled enough to play real minutes. He projects himself as a second pair defender.

5. Aatu Raty, C

19 years old | 6 feet 2 inches | 185 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 52 in 2021
Level: Middle roster player

Skating: below NHL average
Puck Skills: NHL Average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Competition: Below NHL average
Shooting: above NHL average

Analysis: Räty’s season started as she did in her draft year, but after a move from Karpat to Jukurit she ignited a spark in her game, scoring almost a point per game in Liiga after the move. Räty has good hands and vision with the puck, which shows he can make a lot of plays inside the offensive zone. The best Räty doesn’t show up every night, especially sometimes his game can lack pace, but he’s been more consistent in the second half of the season. I see him as a third line center in the NHL.

Has a chance to play (listed alphabetically)

Quinn Finley, L.A.

18 years old | 6 feet | 166 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 78 in 2022

Analysis: Finley is an interesting prospect as he has legitimate speed and skill that could translate to higher levels and is one of the youngest prospects in this class. Off the run, he shows he can be a threat and can beat defenders with speed. His offensive ability doesn’t “wow” you, but he can make plays and projects to score against better players. Given that he’s also not great with the puck, it’s hard to see where he fits in an NHL roster. The talent, however, gives him a chance.

Isaiah George, D.

18 years old | 6 feet | 196 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 98 in 2022

Analysis: George is a mobile defenseman who plays well on his side of the ice due to his excellent gap control and competitive level. It can kill a lot of rushes and break games. George shows some flashes of skill with the puck with a hard point shot, but I wouldn’t call him a natural puck mover. It can sometimes force plays. Skating gives him a chance to play, but he will need to show a more reliable first pass as well as offensive play from the blue line to be an NHL regular.

Simon Holmström, LW

21 years old | 6 feet | 193 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 23 in 2019

Analysis: Holmstrom took a step forward this season, his third in the AHL. He has NHL skill, vision and finishing ability, but his skating is just okay and I wonder if he’ll be able to make plays at NHL pace.

Ruslan Iskhakov, AG

21 years old | 5 feet 7 inches | 152 books | Pull left

Drafted: No. 43 in 2018

Analysis: There’s no denying that Iskhakov has point guard skills and abilities in the NHL and he’s had a decent year, being a points-per-game player in the DEL. His game lacks pace and competition, however, which is concerning given his size – so he has a long way to go to become an NHL player.

Eetu Liukas, LW

19 years old | 6 feet 2 inches | 198 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 157 in 2021

Analysis: Liukas’ skating isn’t the best, but he’s a big winger with good hands and he can really shoot the puck.

Rue Odelius, D

18 years old | 6 feet | 188 pounds | Pull left

Drafted: No. 65 in 2022

Analysis: The skating of Odelius jumps out at you when you look at it. He has a powerful, fluid stride that can explode on the ice and strong edge work to escape pressure. I wouldn’t say his puck game is as exceptional as his feet, but he shows good examples of skill with the puck and can make plays in the offensive zone to create chances. He’s talented and his skating excites scouts, but as a 6-foot defenseman who’s average defensively and not dynamic offensively, I don’t know where he fits on an NHL team.


Player Eligibility: All skaters 22 years of age or younger as of September 15, 2022, regardless of the number of NHL games they have played, are eligible. Player heights and weights are taken from the NHL.

Tool Ratings: Tool Ratings are based on a six-tier scale, with a look at how that attribute would be rated in the NHL (Poor, Below Average, Average, Above Average, High range and elite). “Average” on this scale means the tool is projected as an NHL average, which is considered a positive, not a criticism. Skating, puck skills, hockey sense and competition for each projected NHL player are rated. Shot ratings are only included if a shot is particularly good or bad.

Tier Definitions: Tiers are meant to show approximately where in an average NHL roster a player plans to fit.

(Illustration: Wes McCabe / Athleticism; photo of Noah Dobson: David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


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