The Islanders joined the NHL in 1972 in what was a move by the league to keep the WHA from setting up stakes in the area. The team failed to reach the playoffs in its first two years which is to be expected, but success started to come in season three when the Islanders reached the semi-finals. They lost that year and again the next two seasons but 3 semi-final appearances in their first 5 years was tremendous.
As the 70's came to an end so did the domination of the Montréal Canadiens. The New York Islanders captured their first of four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships at the end of the 1979-80 with an overtime goal by tough guy Bob Nystrom. The club played in 5 straight finals losing the last to the Edmonton Oilers who would then go on to establish their own dynasty. Still, no team has captured 4 straight Stanley Cup titles since the Islanders of the early 80's.
Some of the modern era legends that have worn the Islanders sweater include Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Clake Gillies, Pat LaFonataine, Dennis Potvin, Billy Smith and Brent Sutter.
Here is a look at some of the top prospects Coming Down the Pipe for the New York Islanders...
Top Forward: Kirill Petrov
AK Bars Kazan (KHL)
HT: 6'3 WT: 209 Stats: 8GP 0-0-0 Pts
For non Islanders fans, seeing a guy who has plays just 8 games and has zero points in the top forward spot is going to look very weird. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me either but digging into things, he's the player most deserving of the label as top forward prospect because he's the guy with the most upside.
Politics seem to be creating a problem for Petrov. He's only played 8 games and apparently had plans to leave for North America after the WJC in Saskatoon but was assured by AK Bars Kazan that he'd play more in the second half. That hasn't happened though and reportedly that means he'll definitely be coming to North America ASAP.
Petrov had 10 points in 47 games with Kazan during his draft year in 2008. The Islanders chose him in the 3rd round, 73rd overall, but since then he's only appeared in 14 KHL games. It's puzzling for sure and I don't blame Petrov for wanting out.
Top Defenceman: Calvin de Haan
Oshawa Generals (OHL)
HT: 6' WT: 184 lbs Stats: 34GP 5-19-24 Pts
It's been a tough year for de Haan who suffered a season ending shoulder injury back in January and underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum. He had a groin injury during Islanders training camp, had an undisclosed upper body injury in his first OHL game of the year and also sat out of a game at the WJC after "getting his bell rung".
During training camp when the Islanders rolled through Edmonton, there was serious debate whether the youngster might actually stick with the team. Composed and mature beyond his years, de Haan should be a valuable two-way blueliner for years to come. He's a tremendous skater and can be a valuable contributor to a power play. (Photo: Arron Bell OHL Images)
Top Goalie: Mikko Koskinen
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL)
HT: 6'5 WT: 187 lbs Stats: 2 GP .902 SV% 2.45 GAA
Keeping with the theme established above, Koskinen has been severely limited in his game action this year thanks to a torn hip labrum. Koskinen hasn't played since October although initial reports were that he'd miss 8-10 weeks. At this point they may as well shut him down for the season (if they haven't already). I'm sure there are some in the organization that are a little nervous thinking about a key goalie prospect having a hip problem considering all that has gone on with Rick DiPietro over the last two years.
Koskinen was an early second round pick in 2009, 31st overall, after he put up stellar numbers in the SM-Liiga for the Blues of Espoo. Assuming he regains his health, Koskinen will be a goalie to keep an eye on.
Most Underrated: Rhett Rakhshani
Denver Pioneers (WCHA)
HT: 5'10 WT: 180 lbs Stats: 35GP 19-27-46 Pts
Now a senior, Rhett Rakhshani has finished among the top three scorers on his team every year of his college career. This season he leads all Pioneers by a considerable margin and is a worthy and viable candidate, although not a favorite, for the Hobey Baker Award. He's small but that hasn't slowed him at all at Denver. He's quick, shifty and can score in bunches as St. Cloud State found out a couple of years ago (see video below). Rakhshani was a 4th round pick by the Isles back in 2006 so it's not like they just took a flier on him - they thought he could be a legitimate NHL prospect back then and I don't think they'd feel any differently with the way he's played since. Here's that video:
Buzz Worthy: Travis Hamonic
Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
HT: 6'2 WT: 215 lbs Stats: 37GP 10-31-41 Pts
There are those who follow and cover the WHL who felt that, prior to the WJC, Hamonic was on his way to a MVP-like season. He was the key to a lot of the success that the Moose Jaw Warriors were having to that point and he was leading the league in scoring for defencemen. At the WJC he suffered a serious shoulder injury that would keep him out of action for a couple of months. Moose Jaw traded him to Brandon, the one team that knew for certain that they could wait for him to come back to health because they host the Memorial Cup in May. Hamonic recently returned to action and has two points for his new team as he slowly builds his way back to top form. Hamonic is the complete package; he has size, a strong skating with excellent puck moving skills and the hockey smarts to put all his talents together. (Photo: WHL/Travis Hamonic)