NOTE: I have added Cam Fowler, Etem Emerson, and Brett Connolly to the mix in the poll.
Every shot, every save at this point can change the future of this franchise. With barely two minutes to go against the Habs, the Islanders seemed destined for a regulation loss that would leave them in pretty decent shape for a 28th overall finish. Then the Great Dane scored, Halak choked in the shootout, and suddenly our shot at pole position for the #3 overall pick was running on exhaust fumes.
It still might happen. If the Islanders lose the next three in regulation (against Pittsburgh and NJ at their arenas and against Pittsburgh at home), Tampa and Florida win their next games against Ottawa and New Jersey respectively, and then split their home and home against each other with both games going past regulation, then they would both have 79 points to the Islanders' 78 and the Islanders would have the 28th spot.
The chances of the Islanders losing all three remaining games in regulation are pretty good. The chances of the Cats and the Bolts both following the scenario are iffy at best. For one thing, both teams would need to play as if they had a pulse which they have not for some time. It may be self defeating as far as the draft, but you have to admire how our guys are so not tanking--saving the MSG fiasco.
There is always the chance of lottery love coming our way. A big shift in draft position hasn't happened in a few years, so you could say that, especially after all of those Milbury years, the Islanders are due. In fact, if this team DOES win the lottery, we could call it the Islanders' Milbury as opposed to Mulligan.
The likelihood, however, is that the Islanders will be picking in the fourth or fifth spot. If the boys go crazy and win a game or two, that draft position might slip back to sixth or even seventh. What would that look like on Draft Day?
Cam Fowler will likely be picked #3 so, unless one of the above scenarios plays out, he will be off the table. Picking in the #4 or #5 slot would likely mean Brandon Gormley or Erik Gudbranson. Gormley is 6'2", 190 lbs and Gudbranson is 6'4", 195 lbs. It is reasonable to expect that both will fill out to over 200 lbs--especially Gudbranson. As to style, Gormley is a taller version of Streit or his idol Nick Lidstrom--smart, savvy, always makes good decisions with the puck, always perfectly positioned. Gudbranson is nasty with a mean streak. It has been said that he is like Chris Pronger except that he fights as well as hits. It has been said that he would have a lot more PIM but other players are afraid to take him on.
It can be argued, as I have already done, that Gormley is more the type of defenseman Garth and Co seem to prefer. It can also, however, be argued that Gudbranson would be a better pairing partner with 6' 184 lb Calvin De Haan because of his more physical style.
If the Isles slip to #6 or #7, the choices will likely be between Nino and Vladimir Tarasenko. This is not a hard choice at all. Tarasenko is a very talented forward, but Nino is taller and seems to me to be a more complete player. More importantly, however, Nino is here, he has adapted to the North American game with flying colors, and he is not in the KHL as Tarasenko is.
If the Isles do select Gormley or Gudbranson, all is not lost as far as improving the offense. Teemu Pulkinnen and Kirill Kabanov were originally supposed to be top five picks but slipped in likely draft position because of wrist injuries and, in Kabanov's case, because he went back to Russia when he wasn't getting the playing time he wanted. Victor Ohman is another possibility as he has been compared to Johan Franzen. If one of these is available when the Islanders make their second pick, he might be NHL-ready by the time Petrov comes over. Add that to the improved play of Blake Comeau and Sean Bergenheim and you might have three or four effective scoring lines as opposed to two "big" lines. There's more than one way to skin a cat or to win a Cup.
Who would you prefer the Islanders to pick on Draft Day?
Brandon Gormley (71 votes)
Erik Gudbranson (403 votes)
Nino Niederreiter (129 votes)
Vladimir Tarasenko (27 votes)
Cam Fowler (315 votes)
Brett Connolly (223 votes)
Etem Emerson (6 votes)
1174 total votes