Calvin de Haan was the first defenseman the Islanders have taken in the first round since Eric Brewer was selected fifth overall in 1997. Only five defenseman have been selected by the Islanders in the first round in the last two decades. This might be a good year for the Islanders to break that trend and there are some very interesting draft eligible defense prospects this year and I wanted to take a look at those ranked in the top 30 by the ISS. (March rankings)
Adam Larsson 6-3 209lbs ranked 2nd overall
The big and mobile defenseman is playing in his second year with the Swedish Elite League. He has one goal and eight assists through 37 games. He is one of the safest picks in the draft and is probably ready to step right into the NHL. He is poised in his in his own zone and has the tools to contribute offensively. He is a smooth skater, good outlet passer and will jump into the play. Most well rounded defenseman available. If he is still on the board when the Isles pick they woud be crazy to pass him up.
Ryan Murphy 5-10.25 168lbs ranked 5th overall Plays for Kitchener (OHL)
Murphy is the defenseman with the most offensive upside in the draft and one of a handful of available prospects with true super-star potential. He is second in scoring for the Rangers with 25 goals and 52 assists through 60 games. Concerns about his size and defensive awareness could scare away some GMs on draft day. Could be the highest ranked player available when the Islanders pick. He is a puck-rushing defenseman with very good speed and stickhandling. Can run the powerplay and is a great outlet passer. Not overly physical but throws a good hip-check. Needs to improve defensive play. Don Cherry's pick to go first overall. My initial instinct was that the Isles should stay away from Murphy but I've gotten more sold on him as the season has progressed.
Dougie Hamilton 6-4 190lbs ranked 7th overall Plays for Niagara (OHL)
Size and stats (56 points in 64 games) make this OHLer an interesting prospect. The two-way defenseman is a safer pick than Murphy but without the upside. Not overly physical and has been prone to poor decisions and difficulty handling opposing forecheckers. Honestly every scouting report I have read on Hamilton seems to have quite a bit of negative critism and I hope the Isles stay away from him.
Duncan Siemens 6-3 197lbs ranked 10th overall Plays for Saskatoon (WHL)
One of the biggest surprises in last year's draft was McIlrath going ahead of Fowler and Gormley. Size and physicality are obviously two things GMs are looking for in defenseman and are two things the Isles system is short on. Siemens isn't as big as McIlrith but may have more offensive upside. He has 42 points through 69 games with Saskatoon. Patterns his game after Scott Stevens. Projects as a shutdown defenseman with mobility.
These are the top four ranked defenseman according to ISS's march rankings. The brief scouting reports are my own words but are based on scouting reports I have read from a variety of websites including NHL.com, thescoutingreport.org, bleacherreport.com and hockeysfuture.com. I have not had the opportunity to watch most of these players outside of brief clips. Would love to hear feed-back from people who have more of an opportunity to watch these players. Height and weight are from ISS and stats are from hockeydb.com and are current as of March 16, 2011.
EDIT: Thanks to Fabtraption for pointing that when discussing the Islanders draft history re: defenseman that I forgot Mezei and Kudroc in '99. I forgot that we had 4 first round picks that year. Really worked out well for us, huh?