The Islanders made official this afternoon (just minutes before making another important announcement) what many of us suspected and assumed already - that they would be retaining their first round pick (5th overall) in this year's NHL Entry Draft and would transfer their pick in next year's draft to the Buffalo Sabres to complete the teams' deal for Thomas Vanek.
I am of many minds on the subject of the Islanders ill-fated and ill-advised Vanek trade. Almost as many minds as there are threads and comments about this topic dating back to that stunning Sunday night in late October when it all went down. Most of the things I think about the trade are negative in terms of what the Islanders gave up for a few (and, to be fair, a few brilliant) games with Vanek riding alongside John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.
Unfortunately, the only thing I'm sure of is that there's no way to go back in time and change history before it happens.
There was no right choice for Garth Snow to make here. Like the Kobayashi Maru scenario from Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, it was an unwinnable exercise. Snow is either a dope for giving up this year's pick and hedging his bets against landing in the lottery next year, or he's a dope for keeping this year's pick and giving up a shot at a special player in a special 2015 draft. All because he chased a scorer and not the goaltender his team so desperately needed.
I always believe that giving up a first round pick is a bad idea, especially for a team that's this far from being a contender. Hell, even contenders probably shouldn't gamble away picks because it can easily come back to bite them before they know it.
But I also have seen enough first rounders, for the Islanders and other teams, come and go without making much of an impact in the NHL. Giving up a pick in what appears to be a loaded 2015 draft might seem like lunacy, but then I remember the loaded 2003 draft, where almost every team got an All Star and the Islanders drafted Robert Nilsson.
The Sabres now have three picks in next year's first round which, if it's as good as advertised, could be a major turning point in the franchise's rebuild. Then again, I also remember when the Islanders had four first round picks in the very weak 1999 NHL Draft and came away with non-stars Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt and two loaves of bread. But hey Connolly and Pyatt turned into Michael Peca so no big deal, right?
But this is what following a team really is about. There is no conclusion to the story, unless you jump off the bandwagon for good. It is a continuing tale with endless chapters and infinite twists and turns building upon, or perhaps tearing down, what came before it.
If giving up next year's pick was the wrong move, we will find out a few years from now. By then, who knows what perils the Islanders will have survived. Or what cliffhanger they will then need to get out of.
Like I said, many minds. Now I have a headache.
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