NHL Draft Hangover: Digesting New Islanders Nino, Brock and Kiril

Brock Nelson quickly learns: They make NHL draft picks do the weirdest poses.

What would it be like for an avid Isles fan to spend NHL Draft weekend in a remote corner of a non-hockey country, only to return Sunday night to digest news of the Islanders' moves to draft Nino Niederreiter (I think I finally learned to spell that), Brock Nelson, and the talented but much-debated Kiril Kabanov?

It'd be something like this: I spent last week in the Dominican Republic (a long-scheduled family trip, so there was no getting out of it for the draft), where I was charged for phone calls I didn't make from a room with no Internet access, on a resort where the lone Web access point was a train ride away and billed by the minute. So I learned about Nino from an ESPN Bottom Line feed -- strangely, no Versus or NHL Network in the D.R. I learned of everyone's live reactions here a day later from a cramped office at $5 for 15 minutes. The setting was beautiful, the service often comical, the lack of information on the Isles downright torturous. I'm glad to be back.

So many thoughts running through the head here. Adding three tantalizing forwards to the system should get us thinking for the next few days -- and really underlines the thought Garth Snow will go hard for defense in free agency, while also reaffirming this organization believes firmly in Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic.

If you were elsewhere this weekend, there are lots of draft interview/videos at the official site, the best of which are posted below. Meanwhile, the following links, select quotes and thoughts should catch you up:

The Picks

WebBard rounded up Day Two here, and all told here are all the assets the Islanders walked away with this weekend after doing some pick swapping:

Nyi_2010_draft_medium

The Nino Move

When Erik Gudbranson went to Florida and Columbus reached for Nino's WHL teammate Ryan Johansen, many in the moment figured it was offensive D-man Cam Fowler or big-but-injury-question forward Brett Connolly on the way. In the back of your mind, though, you had to wonder about Nino. ... and Nino it was.

Reach, or Everyone Sticking to their Guns? Reports indicated Columbus and the Islanders were among the teams looking to trade down so that they could take these two Winterhawks closer to their pre-draft murmured slots. But in retrospect, seeing Fowler fall to Anaheim, seeing Brandon Gormley fall as well, while teams like Carolina (Jeff Skinner at #7) and the Smurfs (Dylan McIlrath at #10) reached upward for their picks is a pretty good sign that most potential trade partners already had players in mind who they were confident would still be there when their turn came up.

Personally, in a strange resort room far, far away, I stared at that murky ESPN Bottom Line for what felt like 30 minutes between the time "4. Columbus - Ryan Johansen" first appeared and an actual pick for "5. Islanders - " finally showed up afterward. I was sure there was some kind of trade in the works, and I was 100% certain ESPN would ignore it completely.

I was surprised to read from Newsday that reaction at the official Islanders draft party to the Nino pick was disappointment. I don't really get that, but the Draft Party seems ripe for hysteria. Reaction here seemed more reasonable: Excitement for a kid who is destined to be an exciting player, tempered by the perfect-world wish that Snow could have pulled off another trade-down while still getting his man.

My two favorite Nino quotes:

And here's the local paper that covers their WHL team, the Portland Winterhawks, with Johansen and Nino's draft day reactions.

 

Kiril Kabanov: 'I like to score'

So did Moby, of course, and that paid off handsomely.

I didn't hear about Kiril The Second until I returned home; immediate reaction: How Garth-ian. GM Goalie collects 2nd and 3rds for situations like this: Petrov one year, Kabanov two years later. These are the high-upside risks you can afford to take when you have multiple picks.

Think about this: Two year's later, Snow's return for passing on Nikita Filatov includes Josh Bailey and the depth of picks to be able to add Kiril Petrov and Kiril Kabanov to the collection.

Kabanov's post-draft interviews already got as much attention as his rocky soap opera of a season:


I enjoyed this:

"I'm a pretty secure guy, and I like to play on powerplay. I like to score goals. I don't know how to say...I'm a two-way player, I can play two-way game."

You know that last part has entered the "Forward Prospect's Talking Points 101" manual.

Then there was the Edmonton Journal quoting Central Scouting's E.J. McGuire: "He didn't burn the bridge, he blew it up." Ouch.

And then this from Garth, answering questions about Kabanov's well-documented (and in some cases exaggerated) troubles: 'I'm the first to admit I wasn't a saint growing up...'


... but, character is still a big part of the Isles prospect eval process, right? Yes. But when "1st-round talent" falls to you in the 3rd, you take the bait. As Snow said:

"Make no mistake: We do things a certain way in the New York Islanders organization, and we expect all of our prospects and players to perform in that manner."

Elsewhere: More on Kabanov from Adam Kimelman at nhl.com and Chris Botta at FanHouse, where Bruce Ciske also uses the pick to list the Isles as a draft winner.

 

Brock in the House

Speaking of why you collect 2nds and 3rds ... another reason is when a cap-strapped Stanley Cup winning team is picking at #30 and facing the need to replenish depth with cheap young players, you can package some of that to move up. When we get to the 30-and-beyond phase is when I really start to snooze on the draft. But I heard enough about Brock Nelson beforehand to instantly understand why the Islanders would think he's a piece worth having -- and shooting for -- at #30 who might not be there at #35.

Ryan Jankowski on Brock Nelson's skills (as well as Nino and Kiril, and the others), and the maneuver to move up to smell what the Brock is cooking:

It's the whole package with Brock. And he's someone we didn't feel would be there at 35, so we needed to step up [trade with Chicago] to get him [at 30].

 

And the Rest...

The 7th-rounder spent on the overage goalie drew some puzzled looks, but 7th-rounders are such crapshoots to the crapshootiest power, I'm sure the Islanders scouts have something in mind. You do need to be creative with how you create system depth now that you can't keep goalies in Finland or Sweden for more than two years before you sign them, so a college goalie is an interesting dart to throw.

Meanwhile, the Tony DeHart pick was an interesting surprise: You know they've watched a lot of Calvin de Haan's Oshawa teammate, so maybe they saw a "late bloomer" other teams missed. And sure, why not put two "de H's" in the pipeline, as if keeping two Kirils straight and spelling "Niederreiter" every night weren't enough of a challenge for the blogger.

...but I've already seen BC's initial reactions, and I know you all have your comments. Who'd we miss out on, who do you think was a steal for someone else?

 

Islanders Schedule: One Home Game, Bunch of Split-Squads in Preseason

Perhaps lost last week was the release of the Islanders' 2010-11 schedule, including their preseason games. Who's meeting up for Saturday, Oct. 9th's home opener against the Stars?

More curious is the Islanders pre-season schedule, which appears almost make-shift thanks to the canceled China trip: Five games in five locations, with four of the games consisting of split-squad nights: Sept. 29 (vs. Calgary in Saskatoon, and also vs. the Flyers in Philadelphia) and Oct. 2 (at home vs. the Devils, while the other squad plays the Canadiens in Quebec City). The only non "split squad" night is Friday, Oct. 1 at New Jersey.

And of course, you can see Nino and a bunch of other pups in the prospect mini-camp scrimmage, billed as the Orange vs. Blue Game, at the Coliseum Saturday, July 10, at 7 p.m.

P.S. Hey, how did you like seeing that new Islanders home white jersey?

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