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A window into the Islanders' future

The chance to get a first look at John Tavares was the main attraction of the Islanders' recent minicamp, but the real proving ground for him will come at training camp in Saskatoon as he begins his NHL career. For many of the other players, the minicamp was a chance for them to measure their progress and then come back a year from now to see how much they've grown.

While the camp mostly was devoted to drills and system work, it was heartening to see the improved skill level from last summer. Here's a brief rundown of what to expect in terms of the pace of development for many of the players who attended, excluding those who already have signed professional contracts and those who attended on a tryout basis:

Forwards

Casey Cizikas -- Fourth-round center from 2009 draft, who was placed on probation for his manslaughter conviction in Canada, has the chance to get on with his life and hockey career now by spending one more season with Mississauga St. Mike's in the Ontario Hockey League.

Jason Gregoire -- Third round left wing from 2007 is 20 but likely will play two more years at the University of North Dakota.

Anders Lee -- Sixth-round left wing from 2009 will leave behind his high school football career and spend this season devoting himself to hockey with Green Bay in the USHL. He then is expected to attend Notre Dame the following two seasons to continue his development.

Matt Martin -- Fifth-round left wing from 2008 would like to start season in Bridgeport but is holding out for a better deal from the Islanders. If he doesn't sign by the end of training camp, he'll head back to Sarnia for another OHL season.

Kirill Petrov -- Third-round right wing from 2008 suffered a fractured collarbone last season and got into only six games with Ak-Bars Kazan in the Kontinental Hockey League. He has three years remaining on his KHL deal and, hopefully, will play a major role for Russia at the World Juniors and a larger role in the KHL.

Rhett Rakhshani -- Fourth-round left wing from the 2006 draft is the senior captain at the University of Denver and likely will join the organization after his college season ends. Could finish the year in Bridgeport.

Doug Rogers -- Fourth-round center from 2006 heads back to Harvard for his senior season. Probably needs a big season to be signed.

David Toews -- Third-round right wing from 2008 likely will play at least two more years at the University of North Dakota. Needs to overcome injury problems to earn a regular role in the lineup.

Corey Trivino -- Second-round center from 2008 should win a major role on depleted Boston University team that lost several players to graduation. Trivino is stronger and has recovered from knee injury last season and should begin to show scoring potential. Figure at least two more years of college hockey.

David Ullstrom -- Fourth-round winger from 2008 will begin his first season in the Swedish Elite League. It's expected he will make the jump to North American pro hockey in one more year. Should play for Sweden at World Juniors.

Defensemen

Calvin de Haan -- Surprise No. 12 overall pick in June is expected to spend the next two seasons with OHL Oshawa, working to gain strength and experience.

Matt Donovan -- Fourth-rounder from 2008 moves from a successful season in the USHL to Denver University, where he will be a freshman. Should play at least two seasons of college hockey.

Travis Hamonic -- Second-rounder from 2008 heads back to Moose Jaw in the Western Hockey League for one more season. He must be signed by June 1 next year and certainly could join Bridgeport at the end of the season.

Blake Kessel -- Sixth-rounder in 2007 figures to spend the next two seasons at the University of New Hampshire after a so-so freshman year.

Anton Klementiev -- Fifth-rounder in June got visa to leave Russia in time for final day of minicamp. He plans to play for OHL London for the next two seasons.

Aaron Ness -- Second-round pick from 2008 had a successful freshman season at the University of Minnesota and likely will spend the next couple of seasons there maturing and working on his strength and his shot to complement his skating and skill.

Jyri Niemi -- Third-rounder from 2008 missed minicamp with an injury but returns to Saskatoon in the WHL for his final season. Like Hamonic, he must be signed by June 1, 2010 and might join Bridgeport at end of season. Expected to play for Finland at World Juniors in Saskatoon.

Jared Spurgeon -- Sixth-rounder from 2008 missed minicamp after undergoing shoulder surgery but will play his final season with WHL Spokane. He's in the same situation as Hamonic and Niemi as a player who must be signed by June 1, 2010.

Goaltenders

Anders Nilsson -- Third-round pick in June is expected to move up to the Swedish Elite League as a backup this season with the plan of becoming a starter the following season before moving to North America.

Kevin Poulin -- Fifth-round pick from 2008 returns to Victoriaville for another season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

BLOG UPDATE: Starting Wednesday night, Newsday will be making the move to a new blog operating system. The launch date has been pushed back a couple of days, but a change definitely is coming soon. Considering all the complaints I have received in the past from regular Islanders Beat commenters about problems created by those who post vulgar comments that disrupt the generally good hockey talk, I am happy to say the new system will require anyone who wishes to submit a comment to register. This should go a long way toward eliminating some of the electronic graffiti we have experienced in the past, and I hope I will be able to spend far less time attempting to police the comments section. To the many people who have maintained a commitment to discussing the Islanders with passion and respect for the opinions of others, I thank you and ask that you lead the way in registering to be a part of Islanders Beat in the future.

CONDOLENCES: Recently, one of the regular commenters here shared the sad news that a fan we all know as "Cincy" suffered the passing of his wife. I know that I speak for all the regulars here in saying that we send our condolences and heartfelt good wishes. We've all missed the intelligent and insightful commentary from "Cincy" but recognize from all that he brought to the blog what a good person he is and how hard this time must have been for him. Be well "Cincy."

VACATION NOTICE: I will be stepping away from the blog to use up my vacation and comp time before the start of training camp. However, others at Newsday will pick up the slack here while I am away, and I'm sure I will check in from time to time if there is any major news to report or comment about. Wishing you all a pleasant summer ahead and thanking you for your continued support.

Comments (27)

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BLOG UPDATE: Later tonight, Newsday will be making the move to a new blog operating system. Considering all the complaints I have received in the past from regular Islanders Beat commenters about problems created by those who post vulgar comments that disrupt the generally good hockey talk, I am happy to say the new system will require anyone who wishes to submit a comment to register. This should go a long way toward eliminating some of the electronic graffiti we have experienced in the past, and I hope I will be able to spend far less time attempting to police the comments section. To the many people who have maintained a commitment to discussing the Islanders with passion and respect for the opinions of others, I thank you and ask that you lead the way in registering to be a part of Islanders Beat in the future.
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This is GREAT NEWS, Greg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am so aggravated we took Kirill Petrov in the 2008 draft instead of Evgeny Grachev.

The Rangers got themselves a potential superstar and we got a kid that will never cross the Atlantic.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


thanks for the update on some of our prospects......up and coming talent gives us more reason to hope

new blog rules? that is great!! unsteady - you better post your same stupid comments now. the clock is ticking on your feeble online existence..........

LET'S GO WANG!! LET'S GO SNOW!!

It is nice to see that in a short time the organization has come a long way in rebuilding. Dont know what the end result is, but it is a start. They have to sign Martin, because the one thing the organization lacks is size. And for the most part, he is it. Petrov has size and supposedly the skill, but unless something changes it will be three to four years before he is here, if ever.

On defense, I am interested in seeing how Donovan, Hamonic and Kelmentiev progress. I know Rakshani is supposed to lead DU but, I will do my best to follow Donovan's progress. The otehr guys are harder to follow.

Have a good vacation Greg, you've earned it!

Great piece there about the next generation of Islanders Greg!!

I'm happy to hear about Newsday's new commenting system ... I look forward to participating in more commenting on here once again .... I'll still be at Botta's too of course ... but this site was the first place I found a few years ago to comment with my fellow fans.
*****
Once again I also pass my condolences to Cincy.

****
Enjoy your break Greg ... this may be the only time you get it.

***
Russian players.

While I was at work today ... I came across a newswire piece that said Vladimir Putin wanted the KHL to expand to all of Europe ... to "challenge the North American Leagues" ... he would like it if Russian players never had to leave Russia in order to play pro hockey, and sees this as the best opportunity as economic power drains from the US and Canada and more towards Russia.

Hymmmmmm ... I'm wondering what encouraged those kind of comments???

Did anyone else catch Ted Nolan's interview on TSN? Hard to believe he still thinks of himself as deserving an NHL coaching position. I think the other GMs around the league view him as "difficult to work with"...at least.

Have a great summer Greg. I always have appreciated your efforts and I welcome the new registration policy. I am positive it you rid the site of the so called "trolls" all the regulars will come back and share our passion for the NY Islanders.

My condolences to "Cincy".

Have a good night all.

michael..Its hard to believe that he doesnt have a job i think hes a good coach. So ur telling me that gordon is a better coach..cmon now..

Hopefully Kirill Petrov comes over next year that would be nasty

Isle in NJ:

#1 Putin's a bit of a blowhard. Russia's suffering as much or more than anyone.

#2 The KHL has been overpaying players and has been trying to draw players from other leagues like the SEL to say nothing of keeping players like Kirill Kabanov or Kirill Petrov from jumping the pond to the NHL. Some players like Dmitry Kulikoff have actually gone over to play in junior hockey in NA for their draft year to reassure NHL clubs that they will come to the NHL.

#3 If we DID draft and sign Kabanov and IF we became competitive in 2010, players like Petrov and Klementeyev would be more anxious to cross the pond and play for us.

Enjoy the vacation Greg!

Your work of the past year has been tremendous, you have stepped it up big time and I am huge supporter...BTW Ullstrom is not eligible for this years WJC(had to call you on it)

God bless.

mm

Looking forward to see what Hamonic and Rhett can do....

Greg- get your rest. You need to get your head on straight after some incorrect predictions. But we love your work...


Everyone worrying about the Russian players coming over to the US needs to chill out.

Don't think they aren't watching the success players like Ovechkin and Malkin are having. They know the NHL is THE elite level. The KHL gets 90 year old Federovs and 19 year olds who still need development.

Relax.

If the Isles were to get really competitive, Petrov would be over here. So would Klementeyev.

Forget the team competing as a reason why the Russian players will eventually be here. The soul fact that their comrades are over here playing and talking up the NHL as the dream of dreams is enough for them to get over here. Sooner or later those guys will be in an Islanders uniform.

Coral isles is the troll. What r u gonna do know mouth?

Bossy22, you are even more of a loser than the one that constantly pretends to be me. At least that clown thinks he is being funny or something. But YOU? You have a hostility that no normal human being should have for someone they have never even ****ing met. Your constantly sexist and resentful posts cause nothing but grief for Greg Logan and, as he stated, he will be happy when you can no longer do it.

This is going to end tomorrow. And hopefully, when the kind of garbage you continually post is no longer allowed here, you will find some other less obsessive way to waste the time that, for others with healthy dispositions, constitutes a life.

The Isles being competitive is absolutely a factor in those players coming over here. I guarantee you that you will not see them unless and until the Isles begin to get competitive.

Looking very forward to what Hamonic and Niemi do this season. Between Islanders camp being in western Canada, their playing key roles for their teams in the WHL and their possible, if not likely, participation in the WJC (taking place in western Canada as well), this has all the makings of being a huge year for these two young men. Both have size and skill in every zone. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them.

Petrov vs. Grachev:
Like most Russians who go in the top 3 or 4 rounds, Grachev had shown skill worthy of drafting, but was a gamble in his own right. It was hardly known that he'd come over and put up 80 points in the OHL, granted he had some solid linemates. He did and is now looking promising. Good for him. Petrov, however, was the #2 rated European prospect going into the draft. It was known that he had no less than 3 years on an existing contract with Kazan. His size and skill certainly were not in question - the politics were, as they were for Russians before him (even Cherepanov). In light of the shoulder injury and the apparent inability to come back and win a role for himself in the KHL at any juncture this past season (after having played 47 games the year before), this past season was anything but promising. However, there is much for him to achieve next season and sparing injury, we have every reason to believe he'll show why he was the #2 ranked European in his draft class.

Whether he ever decides to come to North America is not something this franchise can make the absolute decision on, but every indication is that he will make the move once his current contract has expired. In the meantime, we can enjoy the many, many other prospects we have in the system and rest assured that once his current contract has expired, he'll likely be ready to make the direct jump into the NHL line-up.

Looking very forward to what Hamonic and Niemi do this season. Between Islanders camp being in western Canada, their playing key roles for their teams in the WHL and their possible, if not likely, participation in the WJC (taking place in western Canada as well), this has all the makings of being a huge year for these two young men. Both have size and skill in every zone. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them.

Petrov vs. Grachev:
Like most Russians who go in the top 3 or 4 rounds, Grachev had shown skill worthy of drafting, but was a gamble in his own right. It was hardly known that he'd come over and put up 80 points in the OHL, granted he had some solid linemates. He did and is now looking promising. Good for him. Petrov, however, was the #2 rated European prospect going into the draft. It was known that he had no less than 3 years on an existing contract with Kazan. His size and skill certainly were not in question - the politics were, as they were for Russians before him (even Cherepanov). In light of the shoulder injury and the apparent inability to come back and win a role for himself in the KHL at any juncture this past season (after having played 47 games the year before), this past season was anything but promising. However, there is much for him to achieve next season and sparing injury, we have every reason to believe he'll show why he was the #2 ranked European in his draft class.

Whether he ever decides to come to North America is not something this franchise can make the absolute decision on, but every indication is that he will make the move once his current contract has expired. In the meantime, we can enjoy the many, many other prospects we have in the system and rest assured that once his current contract has expired, he'll likely be ready to make the direct jump into the NHL line-up.

There are some decent defensive prospects in our system, but no genuine star quality. Two decisions made that have hurt our defensive corps are:

1) The trade of Grebeshkov:

A very Ranger-like move. Trade away a player with enormous upside for a flawed now player. Grebeshkov put up 39 points and had a +12 rating for Edmonton this season and I don't believe that he has reached anywhere near his potential yet. He just signed a one year deal with the Oilers. If he goes on the market next summer, the Isles would be foolish not to make him a generous offer.

2) Passing on Kulikoff in favor of De Haan. No one knows how good De Haan will be or whether he will even make an NHL player. I see no reason to believe that Ness couldn't have been groomed for Streit's role. Kulikoff is an NHL-ready defensive star about to be born. Don't take my word for it. Go on NHL.COM and look for Bill T.'s Draft Day interview. I think he's pretty good authority. Watch and see if Kulikoff doesn't compete for the Calder with JT and Big Victor this year. And watch him collect Norris trophies over his career.

3) These two mistakes were costly and I think that we MUST make drafting a star quality defender like Cam Fowler a priority in the 2010 draft.

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Posted by Bill, Terrace, BC CANADA | July 21, 2009 21:20 The Isles being competitive is absolutely a factor in those players coming over here. I guarantee you that you will not see them unless and until the Isles begin to get competitive.
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Actually if a team is NOT competitive then a player coming over has a better chance of being higher on the depth chart and getting more quality icetime.

They want to play for winners and the Isles aren't perceived that way right now. If there is significant improvement and a really good draft and free agency next summer, watch and see if they don't come then.

They want to play for winners and the Isles aren't perceived that way right now. If there is significant improvement and a really good draft and free agency next summer, watch and see if they don't come then.

Marty Biron?!!! How many starting goaltenders do we need? That's another roster spot that could have been filled by talent in our system Gordon would like to look at. And we are still only carrying seven defensemen. For a team that had exactly zero defensemen play all 82 last season and with four of those seven over 30, that makes no sense. I am HOPING that Garth will sign a defensemen, Martin Skoula shouldn't cost more than about $2 mil. He is big, fairly talented, has some offensive upside, and has not missed more than 2-3 games a season in 10 years NHL experience. If DP stays healthy, I suppose we can trade Biron at the deadline.

Bill, I don't understand why you are so high on these over-rated Russian players. I wonder some times if you're an agent for them. There are plenty of good North American players that will develop and stay in the NHL and won't defect to the KHL. Look where the majority of team captains come from who raise Lord Stanley's Cup over their head each year!

I'm amazed how one can make these rash judgments comparing players that they not only can't spell their names but have most likely NEVER seen them play. I've watched de Haan play numerous games last season and followed the OHL for a number of years. I've watched Kulikov play in the 2009 World Juniors live and throughout the 2009 Memorial Cup Tourney in Rimouski, QC.

The Isles mgmt picked de Haan over Kulikov because he has much more upside potential. They also knew that Florida coach Peter de Boer, who is also part owner of the Gens, was fully aware of de Haan's high-end abilities and most likely had him listed as one of their 1st round picks.

Some things that most are probably not aware of:

- de Haan is a deceptively fast skater, and beat forward speedster Matt Duschene (3rd pick) in the puck control relay by over a body length during the CHL Top prospects skills comp this year.
- The team de Haan played for (Team Orr) handily defeated the team Kulikov played for (Team Cherry) 6-1 during this CHL Top Prospect Game. Kulikov was virtually invisible during that game.
- During his rookie season, de Haan was the only player selected to represent the Oshawa Generals at the OHL All-star game.
- de Haan is still growing and has put on 15 lbs and 1" since his rookie OHL season began this past season and has a frame that can easily handle future muscle weight. Kulikov may be considered NHL sized already but he only has about 10 lbs on de Haan's current weight.
- de Haan was not only the Gen's top PP D-man but is one of their best PK as well and has rarely ever been beat 1 on 1, including JT in practice. He plays both ends of the ice very well and is one of the most consistent players in the league.
- He racked up an impressive 63 points (2nd highest on his team) in 68 games and a plus 3 (highest on his team) while playing for a team near the bottom of the OHL standings.
- de Haan had one more point in his rookie season, playing for a 2nd last place team in the OHL than Kulikov, who played for the first place team in a weaker QMJHL league. This makes a HUGE difference to the validity of Kulikov's stats.
- de Haan continued to keep his point string on pace even after Oshawa traded their top players Tavares and Delzotto.
- He was voted Top Rookie, Best Defenseman, and Top Scoring defenseman by the Oshawa Generals organization.
- In the 2008-09 OHL Coaches Poll, Calvin de Haan was third in three different categories: in the Smartest Player category, in the Best Playmaker category, and in the Best Offensive Defencemen category.
- He was named to the OHL's All-rookie first team and was a runner up to Evgeny Grachev (a 19 year old forward) for OHL rookie of the year.
- He led all the 2009 Team Canada U18 D-men in points, plus/minus and was key to their top PP ranking in the tourney while his line shut down the highly favored Swedish top line.
- His wing-span was measured to be the same as Hedman's during the Draft Combine physical evaluations.

He continues to rise to the occasion each time he is put to the test of higher levels of competition. He was under the radar of most scouts, and less publicized this season due to being only in the OHL for 1 season.

- de Haan already has NHL speed, skill and hockey IQ. With another season in the OHL, World Jrs, and the addition of some sure-to-add bulk and strength, the Isles fans will regret ever doubting Garth's trade move to the 12th. I'll bet that he'll even crack the Isles line-up at the start of the 2010-11 season.

The "new NHL" is about speed, skill and agility. It's easy to find temporary "thugs" to help add some physical protection when required. The key to success in the NHL is to have balanced lines and a good team system. With the right grooming and patient player development, the Isles will be a very good team in the next few years.


Bill..you still there Bill?

Nice work Hockeymad.

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