sleep 5Want to follow Islanders prospects in the college and junior playoffs? A schedule follows. But first, our pre-playoff rankings of the top 10 Islanders prospects not playing in Bridgeport. For comparison, here's our first Top 10 column from November 24, 2008. There have been some changes.
TOP 10 NYI PROSPECTS
Not with the big club or in Bridgeport
1. Aaron Ness
2. Corey Trivino
3. Travis Hamonic
4. Kirill Petrov
5. Rhett Rakhshani
6. Mark Katic
7. Matt Martin
8. David Ullstrom
9. Justin DiBenedetto
10. Blake Kessel
sleep 5Notes: Off our list from November are Robin Figren (No. 4), now in Bridgeport, and goaltender Stefan Ridderwall, whose injuries and sparse playing time give him an incomplete for his season in Sweden.
Joining the list are Justin DiBenedetto, who is far from a sure thing but whose production in the OHL is too good to ignore, and New Hampshire freshman defenseman Blake Kessel, whose ability, commitment plus size (6-2, 210) gives him the slight edge over Spokane dman Jared Spurgeon's ability and commitment (he's 5-8, 180).
Moose Jaw defenseman Travis Hamonic jumps from No. 6 to 3, but his season is over. There is a chance he could join Bridgeport, a la Figren last week and Jesse Joensuu before him. Whether Hamonic gets in any games remains to be seen. He may only be there to begin a comprehensive strength and conditioning program.
Kirill Petrov, drafted as a project, remains a project. His contract in Russia is believed to be for at least one more season, maybe two. Perhaps by the end of it, he will have matured. Right now, he's not even close to competing like a top player in North America.
If there was a spot for a No. 11, it would go to Spurgeon or University of North Dakota freshman forward Jason Gregoire (11-15-26 in 39 games). Matt Donovan merited consideration, too.
No, we haven't forgotten anyone (Max Gratchev, Jyri Niemi, Kevin Poulin, Simon Lacroix, Doug Rogers, Shea Guthrie...). In some cases, there is still time. As always, we welcome being proved wrong.
Aaron Ness (2nd round, 2008) plays for Minnesota, Rhett Rakhshani (4th round, 2006, above) is on Denver, and Jason Gregoire (3rd round, 2007) and David Toews (3rd round, 2008) play for the University of North Dakota.
Thursday, March 19 - No. 5 Minnesota Duluth (18-12-8) vs No. 4 Minnesota (17-12-7), 7:07 pm CT (TV - FS North) (Audio - wcha.com)
Friday, March 20 - Semifinal: No. 3 Wisconsin (19-15-4) vs No. 2 Denver (22-10-5), 2:07 pm CT (TV - FS North) (Audio - wcha.com)
Semifinal: Thursday Winner vs No. 1 North Dakota (24-12-4), 7:07 pm CT (TV - FS North) (Audio - wcha.com)
Saturday, March 21 - Third Place Game, 2:07 pm CT (TV - FS North) (Audio - wcha.com)
Broadmoor Trophy Championship Game, 7:07 pm CT (TV - FS North) (Audio - wcha.com)
HOCKEY EAST SEMIFINALS
Corey Trivino (2nd round, 2008, above) plays for Boston University. It should be noted that free agent defenseman Matt Gilroy of Smithtown Bellmore also plays for BU. Former Islanders assistant coach Greg Cronin - a Point Blank favorite - has completely turned around the Northeastern program as head coach.
Friday, March 20 - 5:00: UMass-Lowell vs. Northeastern; 8:00 pm: Boston College vs. Boston University (both games are on NESN).
ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
Justin DiBenedetto (6th round, 2008), Matt Martin (5th round, 2008) and Mark Katic (3rd round, 2007, above) play for the Sarnia Sting in their first round, best-of-7 matchup against favored Plymouth.
Sat., March 21, at Plymouth 7:00
Sun., March 22, at Sarnia 6:00
Tues., March 24, at Plymouth 7:00
Thurs., March 26, at Sarnia 7:30,
Sat., March 28, at Plymouth 7:00 *
Sun., March 29, at Sarnia 6:00 *
Tues., March 31 at Plymouth 7:00 *
WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
Jyri Niemi (3rd round, 2008, above) plays for Saskatoon, Jared Spurgeon (6th round, 2008) for Spokane.
#1 - Lethbridge @ Saskatoon; Friday, March 20 (7:05pm MST)
#2 - Lethbridge @ Saskatoon; Saturday, March 21 (7:05pm MST)
#3 - Saskatoon @ Lethbridge: Tuesday, March 24 (7:00 pm MST)
#4 - Saskatoon @ Lethbridge: Wednesday, March 25 (7:00 pm MST)
#5 - Lethbridge @ Saskatoon; Saturday, March 28 (7:05pm MST)**
#6 - Saskatoon @ Lethbridge: Monday, March 30 (7:00 pm MST)**
#7 - Lethbridge @ Saskatoon; Wednesday, April 1 (7:05pm MST)**
#1 - Seattle @ Spokane; Friday, March 20
#2 - Seattle @ Spokane; Saturday, March 21
#3 - Spokane @ Seattle; Tuesday, March 24
#4 - Spokane @ Seattle, Wednesday, March 25
*Note: Times and rest of schedule tbd.
ETC: Max Gratchev (4th round, 2007) plays for Lewiston in their first round Quebec Major Junior Hockey League series vs. Drummondville. Also in the Quebec League playoffs, Simon Lacroix (7th round, 2007) and Shawinigan face Kevin Poulin (5th round, 2008) and Victoriaville.