Garth Snow's poker game and the #1 pick

"There needs to be a level of trust with the fans and myself and the organization that whatever decision we make is in the best interests of the club. ... I love interacting with our fans, and I think I have a great relationship with our fan base. I could never do anything that doesn't serve the best interests of the organization."

>>Garth Snow, as quoted by Greg Logan

Oh-ho-ho, Garth, you wily dog, you. Regarding the anxiety/drama/tragedy of the Islanders' 1st overall pick, I thought Doug said it best: "Garth Snow and his scouting/draft staff are some of the best poker players on the planet and should consider a career change after this is all over."

Indeed. Snow has spun this situation masterfully, keeping even the ever-connected Bob McKenzie guessing. Chris Botta has quipped a few times that, after it's all said and done, all Snow has accomplished was a display of his poker traits. Yet in the same breath, Botta acknowledges Snow could indeed be targeting Duchene. (Gallery: "Or Hedman!")

So what's to lose? Why not play this out until the end, in case an itchy GM bites? I see there's a rookie GM in Colorado, and an unproven one in Tampa Bay. I also see Snow has repeatedly said he doesn't foresee himself dealing the #1 pick -- which itself could be just one more smokescreen. (As if Snow ever shares what he does foresee.)

Sure, if one of those two GMs wants to swap, there's probably not much on offer. But an asset is an asset. The sheen of snagging the #1 pick can be a feather in a new GM's cap. If the Lightning could get Tavares, imagine how they could shop him for assets from, say, a blustery GM in Toronto.

True, the likeliest scenario is still that Garth Snow is going with John Tavares but wants to keep fans -- and other teams -- guessing that maybe he really wants the other two.

But there's nothing wrong with this. You have the first pick, you have three top prospects about whom reasonable people differ -- why not play from your position of strength? Because if you can believe that it's plausible that the Islanders, given their choice, really want Matt Duchene, is it not also plausible that Colorado or Tampa Bay secretly covet a specific guy, too? Is it not also plausible that they, too, are showing no preference so as not to weaken their own bargaining position?

This is likely much ado about nothing. But it's created some buzz that's more fun than "Seen Stamkos?" in my book. And it's allowed each GM to practice his poker face. Maybe that won't matter on draft day, maybe it will. But I can't blame a gal for trying.

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