With only five picks and several of them in late rounds, the New York Islanders did not enter the 2019 NHL Entry Draft from a position of strength. Rather than try to package picks or surplus players to add more selections, they held on to all five picks, selecting four players from the Canadian major juniors on Saturday after selecting a Swedish sniper in Friday’s first round.
Here is our story stream for the 2019 draft, and here are links to our pages on the first four picks, which we’ve been updating as new information and quotes come out:
- 1st round (23rd): Simon Holmstrom, wing, HV71 (Sweden Jr.)
- 2nd round (57th): Samuel Bolduc, defense, Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL)
- 5th round (147th): Reece Newkirk, center, Portland (WHL)
- 6th round (178th): Felix Bibeau, center, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Bibeau and their 7th-round pick, forward Cole Coskey out of OHL Saginaw, are both overagers who’ve performed well at age 20 and will get a shot to build pro careers.
Here’s the official site description of Coskey:
Coskey, 20, recorded career-highs in goals (31), assists (32) and points (63) in 52 games during his fourth season with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League. The Zion, IL native added eight points (three goals, five assists) in 13 OHL playoff games. Coskey totaled 155 points (72 games, 83 assists) in 240 career OHL games, all with the Spirit.
Both Holmström and Bolduc are seen as promising prospects, but were generally ranked lower than where the Islanders had them on their board. In fact, both admitted they were surprised to be selected as soon as they were. It was a very Snow-esque draft.
Lou Lamoriello described big Bolduc as a “Scott Mayfield” type, in that he has true upside to go with his imposing frame. He’s a workout rat with “an NHL body” — so he’s already physically ready, but of course often that means a prospect doesn’t have as much room to grow to reach his ceiling.
Holmström suffered because of a couple of different injuries (hip, thumb) that reduced the viewings scouts had of him and arguably depleted his stock. So it’s possible the Islanders saw something other teams did not, though one should always be wary of that supposition: In the draft, the aggregate consensus view usually proves prescient, though the outliers sometimes truly pay off.
A typical review of the Islanders class is this one from Corey Pronman of the Athletic, who gave their class a “C”:
I don’t hate the Islanders’ draft class, but there wasn’t one particular pick that excited me. I think Simon Holmstrom is an NHLer, but at No. 23, I was just OK with it. I think Samuel Bolduc could be an NHLer, but at No. 57, I was just OK with it. Reece Newkirk and Cole Coskey have chances.
Here’s Lou Lamoriello on the draft floor afterward. He was asked about free agents Anders Lee and Robin Lehner but as usual had nothing to offer other than he wants both players back:
#Isles GM & President, Lou Lamoriello, addresses the media following the conclusion of the #NHLDraft. pic.twitter.com/Hd7TqP64N9— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 22, 2019
All of these picks will be on the Island this month for the annual summer prospect development camp.
But of course the Islanders have larger items to tend to now: Anders Lee and Robin Lehner are still unsigned and are now free to hear from other teams how much they’d like to have them. Lee in particular sounds a little jarred by their seasonlong negotiations still lingering on to this point.
And if either player walks, the Islanders will have holes to fill in addition to the upgrades needed to build off of last season as the free agent signing period opens on July 1.
It’s going to be a dramatic two weeks — and the most pivotal decisions of Lou Lamoriello’s young tenure with the team.