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Islanders Forward Depth Chart after the 2011 Draft

Depth chart? Can I join?
Depth chart? Can I join?

There are many fun things about the NHL draft -- really, who doesn't just relish a legion of opinionated fans and pundits declaring with papal certainty which obscure teenager (whom they've seen five times! Okay...three.) should have been picked in which round? But my personal favorite is how a team's organizational depth chart changes in the aftermath.

Only on draft weekend can teams do what the Islanders did this past Friday and Saturday: Add eight players to that chart in under 24 hours. Granted, most of the 210 players drafted by NHL teams will never pan out, and odds are maybe half of the Islanders' eight selections become players you actually remember a decade from now.

But for this week, leading up to July 1 free agency, the depth chart gets to do the good old Hope Shuffle. Here's how that depth chart stands for the forwards, before July 1 shakes it up again:

Note: Updated with news of Tomas Marcinko's re-signing to a one-year, two-way deal.

Left Wing C/W Swingers Center Wing Swingers Right Wing
Moulson (2014) Tavares - 2012 RFA Parenteau (2012)
Grabner (2016) Nielsen - (2012) Okposo (2016)
Comeau - RFA Bailey - RFA Hunter (2013)
Martin - 2012 RFA Haley - RFA Niederreiter - ELC Gillies - (2012)
Joensuu - RFA Ullstrom - 2013 RFA Rakhshani - 2013 RFA

Strome - OHL DiBendetto - 2012 RFA

Cizikas - 2014 RFA Romano - 2012 RFA
Sundstrom - SEL McNeely - 2012 RFA
Lee - NCAA Petrov - KHL 2012
Nelson - NCAA Marcinko - 2012 Kabanov - QMJHL
Clark - NCAA Theoret - OHL
Persson - WHL
  • Years listed in parentheses are the summer when a player becomes an unrestricted free agent.
  • Years listed with "RFA" are the summer they become a restricted free agent. If there's no year, they become an RFA this July 1.
  • "ELC" means they are under an entry level contract that might kick in this year, or might wait another year.
  • The rest are the leagues they played in last year, and are likely to play there again in 2011-12.

About 'Swingers' ... (not the movie)

I took some leeway listing these because the Islanders have a lot of assets originally listed as centers but who might in the future or are currently being used at wing. Similarly, there are some non-center wingers who could conceivably be used at either wing. DiBenedetto and Romano fall into the former category, but I listed them on the other side for readability's sake. (In truth, I'm a fan of drafting centers with skill and mobility and letting life and evolution sort out who needs to move to wing.)

Prudence and reason say many of these players will never see meaningful NHL time in an Islanders sweater...but some of them will.


Fill in the Blanks

One thing this exercise does is capture who's certainly on the NHL team next season, and who might be pushing for jobs in training camp. (Spread the swingers out and you have 19 total forwards who will definitely play North American pro hockey next year -- if you include the current RFA's who received qualifying offers.)

Where the chart makes you uncomfortable, it also helps depict the holes in the lineup that could be filled through free agency or summer trades, whether at the NHL or AHL level.

Finally, because the draft puts one in a daydreaming mode, it lets you picture who could be Opening Night Islanders in a couple of a perfect world.

Yes, this is an invitation to fill in the holes in one of many pre-free agency threads...