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Checking on Released Islanders Draft Picks: Spurgeon excels, Kichton fights for position,

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The Ones Who Walk Away.

Checking back on some old picks...
Checking back on some old picks...
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

As of summer 2014, the New York Islanders have had to make a decision on 37 of their selections from the 2008 to 2012 NHL drafts. (Teams generally hold on to a pick's rights for two years if he's in Canadian juniors or most European leagues, up to four years if he's in the NCAA, and more if he's a "defected" pick in the KHL like Kirill Petrov.)

Of those, there have been very few who the Islanders elected to let walk or, in a few cases, traded them before letting them walk. Here's an update on the ones who walk away:

Jared Spurgeon, D, (2008, 6th round, 156th overall)

Spurgeon is the most successful pick from this era to be allowed to walk. With several "undersized" defensemen in the prospect pipeline, the Isles allowed arguably the best one to seek other pastures, and Spurgeon found his way.

After the Isles elected not to sign him in 2010, he earned an invite to the Minnesota Wild, garnered a contract, spent only a quarter season in the AHL and hasn't looked back since. He's been a key defenseman for the Wild, using the puck skills that first drew the Islanders' attention to rack up 229 NHL games.

Brenden Kichton, D, (2011, 5th round, 127th)

Kichton is a fascinating case where the gaudy offensive numbers he puts up from the blueline does not translate into the kind of investment you'd expect to accompany it from an NHL club. He was passed over in his first draft, taken late the next year by the Islanders, and continued to rack up points in the WHL.

It's believed the Islanders tried to sign him two years after his drafting, but the player had wanted a contract a year earlier. After failing to agree on terms in 2013 -- the conventional wisdom at the time was that he wanted money that reflected his junior production, not his late draft slot -- the Isles walked away and let Kichton re-enter the draft. The Jets drafted him even later, in the seventh round (190) of the 2013 draft, and signed him to an entry level contract.

This is where it remains interesting for Kichton: He racked up an impressive 48 points for Winnipeg's AHL affiliate in St. John's and made the AHL All-Star Game last season. But he's not seen as among their top 10 prospects and isn't penciled into the Jets' plans for 2014-15. It appears he still needs defensive improvement if he's going to get a shot as a sort of sheltered, offensive specialist defenseman in the NHL.

At age 22 it's still early and he still has two years left on his pro contract with the Jets organization. But if Kichton doesn't make it, it will may ultimately due to similar circumstances that he found with the Islanders: Competition from lots of other prospects in the system.

Corey Trivino, F, (2008, 2nd round, 36th)

Trivino was infamously taken earlier in the same round that also yielded Travis Hamonic (53rd) and Aaron Ness (40th).

While at Boston University, Trivino ran into what would euphemistically be called "troubles," though it already appeared a longshot that the Isles would sign him. Since those assault charges, he has started a pro career, independently signing with the Isles' ECHL affiliate in Stockton and getting 11 AHL games last season with Portland.

David Toews, F, (2008, 3rd round, 66th)

The brother of Chicago's star, Jonathan Toews, was always in a shadow that appears just too large. Though he followed his brother to the University of North Dakota, he found no success there and ultimately left college to play in the WHL.

The Isles didn't sign him, but did hand his rights off to the Blackhawks for scraps, allowing Chicago at least a theoretical brother reunion. The younger Toews saw two games with Chicago's AHL affiliate and stints with four different ECHL teams.

Jyri Niemi, D, (2008, 3rd round, 72nd)

Part of the Isles' giant class of 2008, Niemi is a rarity in that class: A pick the Islanders elected not to sign. Shortly before his rights were about to lapse, he became a rarity in another way: part of an actual trade between the Islanders and their rival New York Rangers, for a 6th-round pick in 2010.

What became of that pick? It was sent to Atlanta, packaged with the Isles' own sixth-round pick that year for the 2011 5th-round pick that would become ... Brenden Kichton.

Tony DeHart, D, (2010, 5th round, 125th)

The Islanders signed all seven selections from the 2009 draft (though a few have since left the organization). In 2010, DeHart was one of two longshot late picks who ultimately were not signed.

DeHart was an overager draftee in 2010 who had received a two-game AHL appearance with Springfield when the Islanders drafted Calvin de Haan's junior blueline mate. Always a longshot, the Isles let him walk, and since he has seen time in the ECHL with the Stockton Thunder (the Islanders' ECHL affiliate the last two seasons).

Cody Rosen, g, (2010, 7th round, 185th)

Rosen's selection almost needs no introduction at this point. Even for a 185th overall pick -- the never-never land of the NHL draft -- it was an immediate head-scratcher. Many theories abounded. In the end it seems the Isles or GM Garth Snow just rolled the remotest of dice on what might become a feel-good story if it worked out.

It didn't.

Having only played one NCAA game at Clarkson at the time of his draft, Rosen saw only 11 more games over the next three years of his college career, and the numbers were not pretty. They got no prettier in 15 games with Knoxville of the lowly SPHL in 2013-14.

Mitchell Theoret, W, (2011, 7th round, 185th)

Did we mention 185 was never-never territory?

Other than Kichton, the other 2011 pick to be left unsigned was Theoret, an agitating type and OHL teammate of Ryan Strome's at Niagara whom the Isles selected with the 185th overall pick.

After the Isles let his rights expire, Theoret played another overage season with Barrie of the OHL, and appeared in a playoff game for Arizona of the CHL last season.

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And that does it for the picks upon whom a decision has been made. There are still a few from this era unsigned, but Petrov has remained in the KHL and other more recent picks like Doyle Somerby are still in NCAA.