The New York Islanders would like to thank the city of Vancouver, Rogers Arena, and the entire Canucks organization for hosting the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. We’d like to congratulate the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins for reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Most importantly, we’d like to thank our fans back home and those who loyally support us throughout North America, Europe and around the hockey world.
With the 23rd overall selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders are proud to select from the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League center Ryan Suzuki.
To prepare for the first round of the draft, our scouts here at Lighthouse Hockey were assigned the following three tasks:
Task One: Compile and rank a list of all prospects deemed highly unlikely to be available when the Islanders pick 23rd. Sixteen were identified:
1. LC: Jack Hughes; 2. RW (S.L): Kaapo Kakko; 3. RC: Kirby Dach; 4. LD: Bowen Byram; 5. RC: Dylan Cozen; 6. LC: Alex Turcotte; 7. LC: Trevor Zegras; 8. RW: Cole Caufield; 9. LC/LW: Peyton Krebs; 10. RW (S.L): Matthew Boldy; 11. LC: Alexander Newhook; 12. LD: Thomas Harley; 13.RW (S.L) Vasily Podkolzin; 14. LD: Philip Broberg; 15. RC/RW: Raphaël Lavoie; 16. Victor Soderstrom.
Task Two: Compile and rank a list of the remaining prospects who are most likely to be off the board by the 23rd pick. Three were identified:
17. LD: Cam York
18. RW: (S.L) Arthur Kaliyev
19. RD: Moritz Seider.
Task Three: In order of preference, list the top five prospects most likely to be available to the Islanders with the 23rd pick.
Two centers, a winger, a defenceman, and a goalie were identified. If none of the top 19 prospects slide to the Islanders, at least two of these five prospects will be available:
20. LC: Ryan Suzuki
21. RC/RW: Phillip Tomasino
22. LW: Samuel Poulin
23. LD: Matthew Robertson
24. G: Spencer Knight.
The scouting staff reached a consensus. Our primary target was six-foot, 176 pound lefty-shot center Ryan Suzuki of the Barrie Colts, while 5’11, 170 pound righty-shot center Phillip Tomasino of the Niagara Ice Dogs was very close. Unless a prospect we ranked higher dropped to 23rd, the Islanders planned to draft one of the two highly skilled centers.
However, if it came down to one of Poulin or Robertson, we determined we would either trade the pick for a roster player or trade down and likely settle on one of the three following prospects:
LC: Connor McMichael
LC/W: Yegor Afanasyev
LC: Jakob Pelletier
As the Draft unfolded, all 16 of the prospects our scouts identified as highly unlikely to be available to us were taken by the 17th pick. Of the three prospects our scouts ranked 17th to 19th, our rival Rangers snagged winger and Staten Island native Arthur Kaliyev 16th and Dallas took RD Moritz Seider 18th.
As the Ottawa Senators took the podium, our staff was in a sombre mood. Eighteen of the prospects we ranked as the top nineteen were already off the board. Only LD Cam York remained.
The predictability of the draft thus far meant the chances of either Suzuki or Tomasino falling to us were not good. We needed at least two teams to go off-the-board, and this deep into the draft none had… but then Ottawa came through!
The Senators selected Bobby Brink 19th overall before Colorado choose the more obvious LD Cam York with the 20th selection.
Both Suzuki and Tomasino were still on the board, but we were holding our breath as they could easily be the next two prospects selected by the Penguins and Kings. As Pittsburgh stepped up to the podium, the only words we heard were: “with the 21st pick…Nils Hoglander!” We were now guaranteed one of Suzuki or Tomasino.
The L.A. Kings were up next. “With the 22nd pick in the 2019 NHL entry draft, the Los Angles Kings are proud to select Mathew Robertson.”
Ryan Suzuki was ours.
Suzuki led all Barrie Colt forwards by 25 points, amassing 25 goals and 50 assists in 65 games. Note that his winger, 5’6” undrafted Lucas Chiodo, tallied 50 points in only 39 games.
(Also note that after Chiodo was dealt to the Ottawa 67’s, Suzuki reeled off 35 points in the final 28 regular season games for his team, who struggled to win 26 of their 68 games.)
While Suzuki and Tomasino both exhibit remarkable skill, we feel Suzuki’s exceptional anticipation will allow him to transition well to the NHL, when each of the two centers’ skills will no longer be quite so outstanding.
Here is one example of the star center attacking one-on-two, baiting each defenseman out of position before a quick outside-inside move enables Suzuki to slide the puck five-hole.
Here Suzuki angles the opponent towards his backhand before a deft poke-check provides a partial breakaway.
Even though Suzuki has been criticized for trying to be too clever, shying away from traffic, we love his toolset and are thankful that the Islanders’ biggest need— a center— aligns with who we feel is the best player available 23rd overall this draft.
While it is possible that the Isles are set down the middle for years to come with Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, Otto Koivula, and Casey Cizikas, there is plenty of uncertainty, including (A) Koivula’s development, (B) Nelson’s ability to repeat his excellent 2018-19 performance, (C) Cizikas scheduled to become a UFA summer 2021, and (D) unforeseen injuries.
We are very pleased to add Suzuki and increase the Islanders’ quality down the middle of the ice.
Special thanks to Jonathan Spicyn for supplying the GIFs for this article.
Previous Selections in the SB Nation NHL Mock Draft
1. New Jersey selects Jack Hughes, via All About The Jersey.
2. NY Rangers select Kaapo Kakko, via Blueshirt Banter.
3. Chicago selects Alex Turcotte, via Second City Hockey.
4. Colorado selects Kirby Dach, via Mile High Hockey.
5. Los Angeles selects Dylan Cozens, via Jewels From The Crown.
6. Detroit selects Bowen Byram, via Winging It In Motown.
7. Buffalo selects Cole Caufield, via Die By The Blade.
8. Edmonton selects Peyton Krebs, via Copper & Blue.
9. Anaheim selects Trevor Zegras, via Anaheim Calling.
10. Vancouver selects Matthew Boldy, via Nucks Misconduct.
11. Philadelphia selects Alex Newhook, via Broad Street Hockey
12. Minnesota selects Vasili Podkolzin, via Hockey Wilderness
13. Florida selects Philip Broberg, via Litter Box Cats
14. Arizona selects Victor Soderstrom, via Five For Howling
15. Montreal selects Thomas Harley, via Eyes On The Prize
16. NY Rangers select Arthur Kaliyev, via Blueshirt Banter
17. Vegas select Raphael Lavoie, via Knights on Ice
18. Dallas selects Moritz Seider, via Defending Big D
19. Ottawa selects Bobby Brink, via Silver Seven Sens
20. Colorado (*) selects Cam York, via Mile High Hockey
21. Pittsburgh selects Nils Hoglander, via Pensburgh
22. Los Angeles selects Matthew Robertson, via Jewels From The Crown
(*) blogs made a trade with each other, speculative and hasn’t happened for the real draft