Prospect Pipeline – Charlottetown Islanders
It’s very early in the season, however it’s never too early to look towards the future.
The Charlottetown Islanders didn’t have a first-round draft pick in this past QMJHL entry draft, but they did draft a dearth of young prospects to fill the cupboard for the future.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the players that have stood out since the beginning of the season. I’ve chosen from players who attended the Islanders training camp this year. I also didn’t include players who have yet to play this year, namely Greg Kehoe and Drew Bennett:
Brett Budgell, C, Chicago Steel (USHL) – 2GP, 0G, 1A, 0PIM
Much was made about Budgell’s decision to protect his NCAA rights this season by opting to leave the Islanders during training camp and instead playing in the United States Hockey League. The Chicago Steel have only played two games so far and Budgell has notched an assist.
Budgell was drafted high by a good Chicago Steel team in the USHL Futures Draft, and I don’t think that bodes well for the Islanders. The Steel will be good once again this season with a few NHL draft picks and a few NCAA Division 1 college commits on their roster, meaning there will be a lot of college eyes on the team this year. From Budgell’s standpoint, if he wants to take the college route playing with the Steel makes sense. From the Islanders’ standpoint, I hope that something changes and he plays with the team next year. He’s a big power forward with hands and a nose for the puck; he’d look great in the Black and Gold.
Brad Morrissey, C, Notre Dame Hounds Midget AAA (SMHL) – 3GP, 2G, 2A, 2PIM
Morrissey has unfortunately already committed to the University of Maine Black Bears in 2019-2020, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t compliment the strong play of a PEI prospect. His four points in three games puts him 10th among SMHL players in points-per-game, and second among Hounds players. The team has played four games less than the rest of the league, so don’t be surprised to see him hover around the top of the league in points once they play more games.
Drew Johnston, C, Saint John Vito’s (NBPEIMMHL) – 3GP, 0G, 1A, 10PIM
Johnston made a very strong case to make the Islanders out of training camp and was rewarded for his efforts following the injury to Gregor MacLeod. He accompanied the Islanders on their first road trip two weekends ago through New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In his short time with the Vito’s this season he’s put up just one assist in three games.
Nolan Boyd, G, Dartmouth Major Midgets (NSMMHL) – 5GP, 4-1, 2.55 GAA, .910 SV%
Boyd is locked in to an even timeshare with fellow 16 year-old and Saint John Sea Dogs draftee Stewart Bagnell. While Bagnell has allowed less goals in one fewer game, Boyd’s .910 save percentage is good for 4th in the league among goalies with at least 3 starts, while Bagnell’s .890 SV% sits him at 5th. There’s a clear divide between the top goalies and the lower-tier goalies in the league; Boyd is among the top, and at 16 he’s also the youngest player in the top 5.
He’ll be stuck behind a logjam of Islanders goalies with Matt Welsh still eligible for two more years following this season and Dakota Lund-Cornish just making the team. If Boyd continues his strong play, he could be used as a trade chip by the Islanders to acquire more draft picks in this year’s draft.
Antoine Leblanc, D, College Notre-Dame Albatros – 11GP, 2G, 1A, 26PIM
Leblanc’s three points sits him first among defensemen on the Albatros this season. The 2017 fourth rounder is playing on a very weak team this year that could be impeding his point total and development. He’s on pace to match his nine points in 40 games last season, however without a solid supporting cast around him it could be a very long season for the defender.
Evan Gallant, C, Kensington Wild (NBPEIMMHL) – 6GP, 3G, 1A, 8PIM
Like Johnston, Gallant was recalled to the Islanders early in the season following the injury to Gregor MacLeod. He was sheltered in the second game of the season against the Mooseheads, playing very limited minutes on the fourth line. Outside of that game, I haven’t seen him play this season. His numbers indicate that he’s had a great start to the season, as his three goals are good for second on the team behind Frank Fortin.
These players are by no means ranked in order of top-to-bottom, but seeing these stellar plays early in the season should give Islanders fans hope for the future. If Budgell decides to take the major junior route next season, the future will get considerably brighter.