Sorry for the delay folks. This piece should been up a week ago but had two friends die in about 5 days. So I’ve found it very hard to write. You should all be following along on my Twitter account BDGallof which is updated more often on the fly.
Dedicated to Mike & Pat: may memory serve some little percentage to what wonderful people you were. The world is a lesser place without you both.
When judging or assessing the new regime of the NY Islanders, you need to start in 2006 when Neil Smith took over and let the new Isles system move forward. Since then, they have followed certain habits. It is why their hockey operations differ a bit from the typical team. It is why they put a lot into the psychological testing. How that testing is used is what makes the Isles different. How they equate the final tabulation on what THEY are looking for seems to differ from many of the pundits, bloggers and main stream media.
I mean, someone asked an agent on what the Isles would take. Really?
It is why there are tough questions during the combine or other meetings with prospects. It is why they can break relations with their head scout and move on. It is why they just plug along, this draft probably no different than the others.
I wrote about the Isles system very early in my hockey blogging career….errr…hobby…errr…hell I am not sure what this is anymore. Back in 2007, I think. Nothing has changed one whit since then except for the man who holds the scouting lead which now falls to Garth.
I have taken a keen interest in how that system has worked and try to glean some rules and notions they have based on it. It was why I knew they’d take a forward last season. It is why I knew, unflappable even when Newsday ran the Matt Duchene alert, the Isles were taking Tavares. It is why I knew the year before that they’d likely move backward, leaving Filatov and Schenn to others.
Based on those items and attributes, I have analyzed this years crop, applied it to my sense of the Isles system and have come up with a small list of those that would fit best as their #5 pick.
First off, despite Garth innocuous statement that he might move forward or backward this draft, from the #5 position they will not being moving up to the top 4. Just doesn’t make sense based on their picks and what they seem to look for.
As for moving back? Hmmm, that’s where it gets interesting. I do think they will entertain offers to move back if teams come calling BUT doubt they would drop out of the top 10.
Another thing, much like last season, I do not believe that the Isles will take a defenseman in the #5 spot, or even further back within the top 10. You can never say never, but I got to commit to a prediction. THINK FORWARD.
If you look at the best forwards in the league… and let’s count off a few… where were they drafted???
Joe Thorton? #1 overall
Corry Perry? #28, 1st round
Sedins? the #2 & #3 picks.
You get the idea. MOST, not all mind you, but MOST actually were picked in 1st round, mostly near top.
Now, let’s look at the best dmen in the league….
Lidstrom? round 3 #53
Shea Weber? round 2 #49
Duncan Keith? round 2 #54
Zdeno Chara? round 3 #56
Mike Green? round 1 #29
Point here is that there is a probability here that forwards near top of the draft are more likely to succeed on top projections. Not a perfect science, and there are aberrations of course. But as a general rule, this seems to be the case. Dmen come deeper, and if you look at Isles drafts, they are of the same mind. Their dmen picks come later, not earlier.
Add a new item: Where have the Islanders since Mad Mike and Gordie Clark moved on to the NYR ever shown to pick positionally? Each year pundits, bloggers and fans clamor for defense looking on the ice. But that is not how many successful draft systems work. Drafted players usually take years to take shape and develop. Why would they take anything BUT the best player available?
What does this all mean?
The Isles will once again, at the #5 spot, not take a defender. I don’t care what agent or pundit says what. I don’t care who has Garth on some sort of bat phone. I stick to the cold hard facts that I have seen since 2006 and say… not likely….unless they drop out of the top 10.
In fact, if the Isles stay at 5 or pick within that top 10, moving back and collecting some picks, do not be surprised if they once again push into the 1st round via trade to take another player they value which would be a dman or forward (rules don’t apply on 2nd pick in round as we saw with de Haan at #12).
So here is prediction part 1: no dman at #5 or even at #7 or 8. No hype. No Dougie Freakin Hamilton or Doogie Howser. No 6 foot 7 inch dman that remind people of Chara for old time’s sake in Jamie Oleksiak. Isles will take a forward. As to which forward….I have it down to the trilogy of options.
That means 3. And that is for part 2. Till then….
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.