The New York Islanders picked one kid (John Tavares) who was an obvious #1 but wasn't sure -- along with all of North America -- where he'd be. They moved up, twice, to pick another (Calvin De Haan) who -- along with much of North America -- never thought he would be picked up in the low teens.
All told, Garth Snow did a great yet obvious thing, a great bold thing -- and then a strange thing with that great bold thing. Whatever. Here are the reactions of Tavares and De Haan, in their own words, which are telling...
The Surprise Pick: Calvin De Haan
Calvin De Haan: "I was surprised and I was not ranked in the teens at all this year. It was a very big surprise for me. I was ranked towards the latter end of the first round."
Comment: Right, even he knew it and was thus stunned. It was great to see Snow move up -- twice -- from that #26 that he got for Chris Campoli. But the question is whether he used it wisely. If De Haan was the Isles' guy, did he have to move up and spend those other picks to get him? Did he hear something that scared him? Did some one fool Snow into thinking De Haan would be gone the way Snow fooled all of North America about Tavares? I'm dying to know.
De Haan: "I would like to play in the NHL right away, that would be obviously a dream come true, but I don't think another year or two in junior, it wouldn't hurt my development at all. I actually wouldn't mind playing in Oshawa again."
Comment: So he's realistic about his development. Don't get me wrong: I liked what I read of De Haan, which was a lot -- because I thought he might be available at #26.
The final point of promise from De Haan:
"A puck moving type of guy, a guy like Mark Streit, that's probably a pretty good guy to model my game after. He's pretty successful. And also try to play like a guy like Scott Niedermayer, he's been my idol since they went on a Cup run a few years ago..."
Comment: I'll take it.
As for John Tavares: A Few Reasons Why We Know He Gets It
John Tavares, on embracing the challenge as an Islander: "You know, it's just, you have the opportunity there to start with a young core of guys and grow into the future. You see how many teams have gone it before and you can see where it's headed with the draft picks. There's a great tradition there to bring the winning tradition back to Long Island. That's what my goal is and I want to be successful at the highest level. I can't wait to get started."
Comment: There it is. We have a winner. We have a kid who knows exactly what the new NHL is about, and he knows enough to want to restore the Islanders to glory. Cut the crap questions about his character from guys trying to draw traffic; this kid isn't going to shy away when it comes to getting the Islanders to where they need to go.
One more example of how Tavares gets it, this time on the market situation:
"Well, obviously I think the main thing is you've got to win. That's the biggest thing to attract attention is to bring a winning product on the ice and obviously that's the first step is getting a club that can compete for a playoff spot and make the playoffs."
Comment: Full understanding. When you think of the season tickets and jerseys he's about to sell -- and the undisputed talent he has -- it baffles the mind to think that Snow had us all worried he wasn't going this way. Don't know what it got Snow (other than fun, some hype, and a chance to poke Burkie the Bear), but it was a helluva ride, with a great ending.