Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Top 5s

It's time to step away from home ice and examine what is going on around the world with ProspectWatch, a look at the Top 5 prospects in the Islanders organization.

1) Kyle Okposo - It's really no surprise that University of Minnesota rookie is on the list. Okposo currently leads the #1 ranked Golden Gophers in goals (15), shooting percentage (.221) and powerplay goals (5). He is also fourth on the team in points (24) while having played 4 less games than most of his teammates due to a stint at the World Junior Championship, the prestigious tournament for hockey prospects. He had 1 assist in his time with Team USA where he was surprisingly relegated to lower line status. All this at the tender age of 18. In fact, Kyle will not turn 19 until April 14th. Without a doubt one of the top names for the future of the Isles.

2) Ryan O'Marra - At 6' 1'', 193 pounds and pale white, the 19 year old Ryan O'Marra is not your typical product of a Tokyo hospital, but if and when O'Marra makes it to the NHL he would be the first non-goaltender born in Japan to play in the big league. Much like Okposo, Ryan played in this past World Junior Championship, this time for the gold medal winning Team Canada. As well, O'Marra has 20 points in only 23 games in split campaigns for the Erie Otters and Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He is considered by team scouts to be a commanding presence at Center and, following his final Junior year in the OHL, should join Bridgeport next Fall. He could even forseeably make the cut for the Islanders soon.

3) Denis Grebeshkov - After not agreeing on a contract in the pre-season with new GM Garth Snow, Grebeshkov was granted the option the play a developmental year in Russia. Under this writers' bias that move was a mistake. From the time he was playing with the Islanders late in the 2005-2006 season, after he and Jeff Tambellini were received in exchange for Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel, it was more than apparent that Denis has loads of talent at the blueline. His quick passing ability and soft touch on the puck are a potential asset on any team's attack. At last count Grebeshkov had tallied 3 goals for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv in 23 games as of late December. It should not come as a surprise then to learn that Yaroslavl is his hometown. Time will tell for Denis who will hopefully make it back into an Islanders uniform in the near future.

4) Jesse Joensuu - Forward Joensuu, a native of Pori, Finland, was the 2nd round 60th overall pick for the Isles in 2006. The towering (6' 4", 209 pound) forward has made a lot of progress with the local Assat team in Finland. The proudest moment for Jesse, though, came this winter when he had the chance to strut his stuff for Team Finland in the World Junior Championship, a competition in which his 2 goals and 2 assists in only 7 games left him a future Finnish star-in-the-making. Since Joensuu is a physical forward, fans can only hope he makes the leap to the NHL sooner rather than later.

5) Rhett Rakhshani - It is not everyday than a South Asian-American from Orange County, California makes a name for himself, but Rakhshani has already started. Number 100 overall in the 2006 draft Rhett showed off for Team USA in the World Junior Championship Under 18s with 5 goals and 1 assist in only 6 games. Playing for University of Denver the freshman Rakhshani leads the team in assists (20) and is third in points (25) in 26 games. He has shown a lot of promise in only his first season of college level play and fans can look forward to a future from this talented Asian hockey player from Southern California.

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