On June 27th-28th, the New York Islanders will hold nine picks in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Recently, Garth Snow signed Jaroslav Halak, traded for Dan Boyle’s rights, and told Buffalo they can keep the 2015 1st round pick from the Thomas Vanek trade. With Brooklyn a year away, Tavares becoming one of the league’s best at only 23 years old, and new ownership around the corner, the time is now for General Manager Garth Snow to make this team a consistent contender.
This article will focus on players that went on to play in the NHL after being drafted in one of the positions the Islanders currently hold. Using 2000-2013 as a sample size, some names may surprise you on where they were taken.
Out of the possible 117 draft choices, only 28 players went on to make the NHL. That’s 24% in 13 years. Sure we can point fingers at other teams scouting methods and maybe these statistics mean nothing to the Islanders but I do believe when it comes to rebuilding teams, the draft picks can hold more value than the players they end up drafting. In 2008 the Islanders held 13 picks as they traded down in the Josh Bailey draft.
This was the beginning of the rebuild for Garth Snow and he did a great job at acquiring picks. Some led to Travis Hamonic and Matt Martin, some led to Jyri Niemi, Kirill Petrov, and Aaron Ness. Snow has six picks in the first 3 rounds this year, a prospect or two he could probably part with, and an NHL regular he could shake out that probably wouldn’t upset the fan base too much. Since Free Agency is so gracious enough to give us the Marty Reasoner’s and Matt Carkner’s of the world, trading seems to be our only option in getting a player with actual skill.
On June 27th and 28th, the Islanders will hold the 5th, 35th, 57th, 65th, 78th, 95th, 108th, 155th, and 185th pick.
Below are only the players that went on to play in the NHL selected in those positions. Whether Philadelphia selected at 95, Pittsburgh at 65, or Chicago at 108, I want to repeat only 28 players came out from a possible 117. Some may feel that is a success but when you take into account many different scouting departments played a role; I would expect the return to be better than 24%.
- 2000 - Raffi Torres (5) Brad Winchester (35) Dominic Moore (95) Travis Moen (155)
- 2001 - Jay McClement (57) Patrick Sharp (95)
- 2002 - Ryan Whitney (5) Matt Stajan (57) Valtteri Filppula (95)
- 2003 - Thomas Vanek (5)
- 2004 - Blake Wheeler (5)
- 2005 - Carey Price (5)Marc-Edouard Vlasic(35)Niklas Hjalmarsson(108)Mark Fayne(155)
- 2006 - Phil Kessel (5) Brian Strait (65)
- 2007 - Karl Alzner (5) Robert Bortuzzo (78) Alec Martinez (95)
- 2008 - Luke Schenn (5)
- 2009 - Brayden Schenn (5) Kyle Clifford (35)
- 2010 - Nino Niederreiter (5)
- 2011 - Ryan Strome (5) Thomas Jurco (35)
- 2012 - Morgan Reilly (5)
- 2013 - Elias Lindholm (5)
*In recent years, the draft hasn’t had much to show. 2010-2013 may need more time to show some of their late bloomers, which could ultimately change this statistic.
On an Offensive side, we saw Phil Kessel, Nino and Strome, Brayden Schenn, Wheeler and Vanek all come out 5th overall. Montreal selected their starting goaltender, Carey Price. Defense is not as exciting with Luke Schenn, Ryan Whitney and Karl Alzner being the majority.
So what does Garth Snow do? Arthur Staple believes they will trade the 5th overall for a player now. Some reports having Garth Snow swap with Florida so he can bring in Sam Reinhart and join his brother in Orange and Blue. According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, in 2012 the Islanders offered every single pick they own in exchange for the rights to Murray. That's Nos. 4, 34, 65, 103, 125, 155 and 185, just to move up two spots. Portzline went on to say "this is patently insane—both the offer and the refusal. (Garth Snow, be thankful Scott Howson exists, or you're getting torched today. Maybe those late-round picks rarely hit. But you know what they're good for? Packaging and moving up, you dummy.)"
Aaron is correct when he says that "those late-round picks rarely hit" and how it’s better to package them and move up. The Islanders have a little bit more urgency in their game plan. The team has been rebuilding since 2008. They didn’t just hire John Davidson. Ownership and arena will both be different this time next year and they have a franchise player in John Tavares.
I ask Islander fans this: Would you trade all your picks for the 1st overall this year? Aaron Ekblad could really be the core piece to a top 4, with Hamonic, de Haan, and Reinhart or Pokka. Sam Reinhart could end up being a first line player as he’s projected. Sam Bennett looks to be pretty good but still a few years away.
Another option is keeping your picks, packaging them up and bringing in a few players. For some, you may have to throw in NHL’ers or prospects to sweeten the deal. Below is a list of players all who I believe can help the team become a consistent playoff contender, who are under contract for 2-4 years before becoming a UFA, and have been linked to trade rumors for the past two years. Remember, we only have Halak for 4 years and at the moment, no promising goaltending prospects knocking on the door. Currently, this is our window to start winning.
Brad Marchand 3 years @ 4.5 mill/yr
Patrick Sharp 3 years @ 5.9 mill/yr
Fedor Tytin 4 years @ 4.5 mill/yr
David Perron 2 years @ 3.8 mill/yr
Patric Hornqvist 4 years @ 4.25 mill/yr
Anton Volchenkov 2 years @ 4.25 mill/yr
*Sean Couturier 2 years @ 1.75 mill/yr
Lauri Korpikoski 3 years @ 2.5 mill/yr
Keith Yandle 2 years @ 5.25 mill/yr
James Neal 4 years @ 5 mill/yr
Karl Alzner 3 years @ 2.8 mill/yr
Evander Kane 4 years @ 5.25 mill/yr
Dustin Byfuglien 2 years @ 5.2 mill/yr
*Couturier is on the only RFA on this list.
This approach is really no different then what LA Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi did for his organization. Draft well, trade a few prospects, develop what you have, and put a few pieces in place to build around your core. In 2013, LA traded two 2nd round picks for Robyn Regehr. Traded Jack Johnson and 2012 or 2013 conditional 1st round pick for Jeff Carter. Sent Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, and a 2012 2nd round pick to Philadelphia for Mike Richards. In 2009, he sent Patrick O`Sullivan, a 2nd round pick (#51-Brian Dumoulin) for game breaker Justin Williams. Moved Lubomir Visnovsky in 2008 for Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll. Lastly, traded 2007 6th round pick (#154-Dan Dunn), 2008 4th round pick (#93-Braden Holtby) to move up in the 4th round in 2007 draft and select Alec Martinez at 95th overall.
Garth should take a page out of Dean Lombardi’s book. He evaluates his team and addresses his needs through trade. Yes, he was fortunate enough to land Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar through the draft but we also have a few gems of our own. Now, there can be no more complaints the team doesn't have a starting goaltender. It’s up to Garth and Co. to elevate this team in a few short months.
In terms of prospects, Strome, Nelson, and Reinhart are all but untouchable. But other names will be sacrificed to fill a different need. The Islanders have enough Josh Bailey’s in the system. If there’s a trade there, I’d look for one. Michael Grabner is a great team guy with a ton of speed. Sure he can’t score on breakaways but I can never understand why he gets the minutes he gets. He’s still a threat on the ice and defensemen are aware of him every time he steps on. If he’s not part of the plan moving forward, look for a trade.
I’m asking fans to create their own findings from my research and share your opinion below. What should Garth do at the end of the month? Will he even have a job once ownership is transferred over? Is Dan Boyle destined for the
Cup Contender Toronto Maple Leafs? If I missed something, feel free to call me out on it. Just keep it PG-13. We got kids in the room.