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Five players to watch
With the 2011 NHL Entry Draft only two weeks away, here are five players the Islanders could take with the 5th overall pick*
1. Sean Couturier (C, Drummondville) This 6-foot-4 center was at one point regarded as a potential first overall pick and though he may have suffered some strain from entering this season with high such high expectations, Couturier still managed to nab the QMJHL’s MVP award. The Phoenix, Arizona native finished with 36 goals and 60 assists with the Drummondville Voltigeurs this season.
2. Ryan Murphy (D, Kitchener) Another player that one scout from the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau said “had Number-One- Overall skills.” Offensive defenseman that is strong on the power play. On the smallish side (5-foot-10, 166 pounds) but led all defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League with 26 goals and 53 assists in X games for the Kitchener Rangers.
3. Sven Bartschi (LW, Portland) If the Islanders choose to keep the Swiss pipeline open, Bartschi will already have some chemistry with one Islanders prospect. Bartschi played with countryman and 2010 No. 5 overall pick Nino Niederreiter this past season with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Bartschi’s stock rose in the second half this season, which culminated with Bartschi being named WHL’s Rookie of the Year. The 5-foot-10 winger led all WHL rookies in scoring with 34 goals and 51 assists in 66 games with the Winterhawks.
4. Ryan Strome (C, Niagara) Strome’s 106 points (33 goals, 73 assists) was good for third in scoring in the Ontario Hockey League. A strong second half of the season with the Niagara IceDogs allowed Strome to jump from 19th in the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s mid-season rankings to 8th in the final rankings. In the OHL’s Eastern Conference Coaches’ Poll, Strome was voted Most Improved and Best Playmaker.
5. Jamie Oleksiak* (D, Northeastern Univ.) Call this one a dark horse, but if the Islanders trade down as they did to draft Josh Bailey in the 9th spot in 2008, Oleksiak is a worthy candidate. The hulking defenseman, who was used in all situations at Northeastern University this past season, has drawn comparisons to Zdeno Chara and Tyler Myers. According to several scouts, Oleksiak skates very well for his size and has great potential. One scout projected he will be go “anywhere from 8 to 20.”