If you haven't followed the SBN mock draft, there's still time to get a taste of what fans and bloggers covering the other 28 teams (sorry, San Jose) are thinking about the first round. James Mirtle is keeping track of them all at From the Rink. Here was rationale and discussion of our first pick, John Tavares (shock!).
With the 26th overall pick, the Islanders proxy here at Lighthouse Hockey select Tim Erixon, the Swedish defenseman born of Port Chester, N.Y. In this make-believe world, hopefully this son of a Swedish ex-Ranger works out better than the last one.
Thanks to all who weighed in on this pick yesterday, including what appeared to be a late surge in the poll by those with a vested interest in Jeremy Morin. Although I was greedily leaning toward another sniper, the comments got me to reconsider the Islanders' need for another promising defenseman in the system who is not undersized.
If the Islanders hold on to the 26th pick -- and there have been rumblings that it will be difficult for them to move up much higher than 20th -- then they'd likely be holding on to #31 and #37, too. (Or, at most, packaging those to inch up to take someone they want in the late 20s.) There should be more forwards than blueliners available around #31 - #37. So in that scenario, and given the other blueliners taken by other SBN bloggers in the mock draft (de Haan, Despres and Moore all went and won't be available here anyway), I thought we should jump on Erixon.
A Little on Erixon
He has the proverbial "already plays with men" tag that is affixed to every draft-elligible player from the Swedish Elite League. Although it makes me chuckle, I don't meant to belittle that attribute -- it's no small feat and bodes well for a young player to be able to hack it in what is called the world's second-best pro league. As Doug pointed out in comments, Erixon's one of the big four Swede blueliners in this draft, and the talk is of a solid defenseman who just might have a high offensive ceilling. Of course we won't know that, but his defensive stability appears to be worth finding out.
Some more: In keeping with the SBN synergy thing, Dirk at On the Forecheck has a great round-up of Erixon reports. John of In Lou (but not Brent) We Trust has a little different spin. Meanwhile, Western College Hockey Blog wasn't overly impressed after a glimpse of Erixon back in an April pre- U-18 tourney game. (Incidentally, WCH's mock draft at the end of May had the Isles taking Morin in this spot, with Erixon going to Detroit a few picks later.)
Then There's Moving Up...
So, what say you? Anyone else you'd grab instead at 26 (like Morin, or Drew Shore?)? Or if this is all moot, what will it take for the Islanders to move up above #26? What would you give up, and to move how far? Those three to get to #18? A roster player and #26 to get to #17?
There should be some very promising players available in the teens -- but I don't know if teams like Anaheim, Columbus or Florida would want to move down from there in exchange for quantity. And St. Louis, at #17, never minds moving around at the draft, but they have restocked their system in recent years and likely don't want quantity, either.
In the end, it may be as Prospect Park (warning: Rangers fan) tweeted the other night, advocating standing pat: "This is a 3-round draft where you guys can seriously improve in quality AND depth with the picks you have."
In the words of the reunited Phish, and every draft decision-maker: "Maybe so, maybe not."