It's funny: You can cherry-pick any number of quotes, grand statements and incisive scouting reports to back up an argument for any particular prospect in this year's NHL draft. Everybody wants to be heard, everybody wants to get that bit of new insight into a process whose data is already in -- aside from the psych profiling the Islanders do but won't share with us.
At the end of the day, you probably want to go with the guy who's been rated #1 in the 2009 class for what seems like forever. But late second-guessing and re-evaluating will always happen when the picks in question are still-developing kids who can evolve and change with each passing month.
But let's play the game. Take the following quotes -- all from anonymous scouts/GM's in THN's Draft Preview -- consider the Islanders' needs and franchise status (Josh Bailey is here, Kyle Okposo is here, Mark Streit is here, the Lighthouse Project is not) and ask yourself, "Who would I take?" from the following descriptions:
Teenager A: "He's really skilled, but he can play both ways. You're definitely drafting him to play in your top six. You're hoping he'll be your No. 1 center, but the worst-case scenario is he'll be No. 2."
Teenager B: "With all the focus on special teams now, there's no doubt this guy is going to put up big numbers. Inside the hash marks, he's one of the best young players I've ever seen." ..."Is he special? I don't know ... but he'll [be] in the top 10 in scoring every year for a long time." ... "He doesn't have a lot of outside speed, but he knows what to do (when he gets to the net)."
Teenager C: "He may not be a bruising defensemean, but he uses his size to his advantage and he skates so well for a big man. He will be a cornerstone on defense for a team for many years." ... "Watch him playing against men in Sweden and you can see what he does." ... "I didn't get the real deal with him until I saw him playing in the Swedish Elite League. It was pretty special."
Obviously Teen A is Matt Duchene, Teen B is John Tavares and Teen C is Victor Hedman. With its bevy of anonymous scouts and GM's, The Hockey News did a pretty thorough job of capturing the conventional wisdom we've heard up to now. I still say that:
- a) If I were building a team from scratch or do-over, I'd go with the big blueliner.
- b) If my team's offense/defense needs were equal and my franchise had external relations issues, the tiebreaker would go with the star power of the sexy sniper.
- c) No matter what, the Islanders are scoring themselves a sure NHLer and very fine players.
Et tu, Isles fan? (Other teams' fans welcome, too -- we've got a long wait until the draft. The attached poll has been up for a while, so you may have already voted. But you can always change your vote or explain your latest view in comments.)
The latest scout views are in. Opinions vary. If you're the Islanders, who, now, do you pick at #1?
Tavares - Three years of scrutiny and hype, he's still the star (532 votes)
Hedman - Franchise sequoia defensemen fall from the sky but once a decade (148 votes)
Duchene - He's like Stevie Y! (the '90s, two-way version) (50 votes)
730 total votes