So as you might have heard, the NHL had a draft. In it, the Isles made the most curious of moves.
They nailed it.
Now I understand the catcalls of “what about defense?” I got stuck on that too for a bit. But, if you looked at the Isles prospect pool, you’d see this:
Calvin de Haan, defense
Travis Hamonic, defense
Mikko Koskinen, goalie
Kirill Petrov, forward (if he comes over)
Kevin Poulin, goalie (who tends to be underrated on the charts)
We all seemed to get stuck on the team deficiencies on the ice. But, the NHL draft system is not like the NBA or NFL.
Unless you have the good fortune to be at the top of the draft…or bad fortune in the year before…you really aren’t placing those from it directly onto the NHL-roster.
Drafts and prospects cannot be about immediate gratification. We had that in place not too long ago, and the results speak for themselves.
Instead, this new rebuild and careful process is guided by Garth Snow. A former punchline GM who ignored the peanut gallery of judgments and carved out a niche of respect. Those who have dealt with him call him cerebral, unflappable, and calm… even in the glaring lights and cameras of the draft.
So when the fans got focused on defense and those being put on a platter via blogs, interviews, features, tweets, and so forth…it was time to step back and reassess.
If you look at the results of this draft and remain unimpressed, then consider placing these new fowards also right into the top prospects list.
Nino Niederreiter, forward
Brock Nelson, forward
Kirill Kabanov, forward
These are NOT just depth picks or forwards projected to sit on 3rd and 4th lines. They are the NY Islanders top choices that fit best to their ideals, system parameters, and they are well-scouted.
Sure, Kabanov is a roll of the dice. But, what a dice roll it was. A guy whose talent is top of the draft, in a system starving for talent to rise to the top. Kirill will sink or swim. If he sinks, well all it cost was a 3rd rounder.
What this does is create an air and depth of competition on the lower levels for prospects to make the team. No more giveaways. No more just stand there, and you can be on the 2nd line. That time is gone. Just ask Sean Bergenheim who was not given a qualifying offer.
Islanders are moving on. They are giving opportunities for a new class, besides holding onto Matt Moulson, Rob Schremp, Nathan Lawson, Dustin Kohn, and Dylan Reese.
However, there won’t be any freebies. The prospect system took a couple of years to replenish, and now there is a good mixture of talent in there. Those kids will have to play to a higher level to get a spot on the Isles.
No, it does not answer all the Islanders on-ice problems. A draft will never solve that right away, and anyone who tried to tell you this differently did not have a good grasp of what a successful system really is. It is about tiers. It is about achieving. It is about doing the things to a certain level to be able to play on the NHL ice.
Whether you like it or not, this is a rebuilding year for the Islanders, playoff expectations or not. The Islanders will seek to mesh in some vets or young turks that fit their mold come this free agency (blog upcoming on that), then Garth and the braintrust must sit back and watch the coaching kick in and see what comes together.
Some will make the cut. Some won’t.
Be assured, they’ll all be better for it thanks to this here draft class who just added some new young men to the fold… because even if they don’t make the team, they are right around the corner…
It’s all a big step up.
About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.