Islanders Draft Talk: Gimme a forward, gimme a defenseman

Now everyone can add "He's a proven winner, a WJC and Memorial Cup champion" to Cam Fowler's dossier of draft cliches.

If you only check the central column on this site, you might have missed a lot of Islanders-centric draft talk in user-posted FanPosts lately. This topic will obviously dominate more and more over the next month until Garth Snow announces on June 25, "With the 5th overall pick, the New York Islanders trade down select..."

Just so I don't mislead you: I'm by no means a draft wonk and don't aspire to be one. I'll share the resources I come across and will certainly toss in my own long-term-oriented opinion, but when it comes to looking at 18-year-olds and guessing what kind of professional hockey players they will be at age 24, I'm from the school of "Wake me up when they've made it to the show."

That said, the Islanders need to continue building strength at both forward and defense. In terms of this summer's draft, I don't see a magic bullet that can accomplish both -- though we can dream -- nor a burning organizational need that supersedes the other. Whatever Snow & Co. choose to do with that first pick at #5 (should they keep it), I don't imagine a scenario where they can trade up far enough with their second pick to guarantee they've addressed both needs in their first two selections.

In other words, maybe their first pick can help the team next year, or at least by 2011-12. But the Islanders' second draft pick next month is going to be a longer-term project -- not someone you can say, "Okay, mark him down as part of the core." It's too unpredictable, and there's too much work to do before that second pick becomes a player.

Anyway, here's a survey of what commenters around here have discussed leading up to the draft (if I left anyone out, let me know). Skim those posts and comments to check the pulse, and weigh in yourself:

NHL Draft Resources

To do your own homework on who's out there and learn what some guy says about some kid who's going to be the next Mike Richards or some such (ever notice how every junior coach is really high on his most important player?), here are some very useful links and references:

Happy speculating. Do share your theories and preferences here and in those other threads. Personally, my choice for the #5 pick is ... a kid who will help the Isles for a long time. Head screwed on straight is a plus. (Count me as gun-shy about Connolly's health, intrigued by Gudbranson, and 100% confident Snow and Jankowski will have a better idea than I do.)

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