First the NY islanders took an unpredictable turn actually taking a predictable choice at number 5, with the offensively gifted and highly regarded Michael Dal Colle. More on that later.
However, then they swept back into the top of the first round to collect what might be the most divisive name to hockey scouts and debate between traditional hockey and new hockey analytics: Josh Ho-Sang.
Make no mistake about it, the Islanders are one of the new school. Hockey traditionalists have been pointing to the NY Islanders scouting and prospect choices for quite a while, yet they keep churning out NHL talent as a high rate. How high? No other team has as many prospects playing as many NHL games from 2008 to 2012 than the NY Islanders. Take the first round out of the equation, you say? Sure. The NY Islanders still own that from just their 2nd to 7th round picks.
However… Nothing schisms the traditional crowd vs the new school as this pick by the NY Islanders. Add to it, the Islanders internally are beginning to get annoyed by the media outlets who have been behind the curve, and despite the playoff setback last season, have not gotten much respect even before that for many of these items.
So I was unsurprised to see Garth drop a bomb or two on TV and the media scrums. This has been bubbling for a while, and they are chomping at the bit for their prospect pool to start to shit….errrr….shut the naysayers up. The problem is the on ice product still needs developed/vets to shore up weaknesses… But again… That’s another story.
Many scouts actually discussed and believed that the NY Islanders would select Ho-Sang, and when they did, select him far too early. Just maybe they are right. If we listen to this crowd, the criticism is very sharp.
They say that Ho-Sang is not someone who will buy-in. He suffers from always looking for the perfect play or to do things himself. That he will be a distraction. A possible AHL or Europe player, too small and too uncoachable. Too many red flags. He doesn’t think the way hockey players should.
Yet, even his detractors admit his amazing skill, speed, hands, and ability with the puck. He is considered exceptional. A speed guy with the rare ability to also he able to slow the play down. He is also fiery and an agitator, usually in the middle of things. Many think his hands might be best in the draft. However, so is his baggage, at least to those traditional teams. But, is he such a red flag because he has a “different” type of personality?
Yet, here come the NY Islanders, making sure he did not drop even into the 2nd round. To some I spoke to, they thought that he would perhaps even fall farther. Yet, it seemed the Islanders were making very sure they got their man. For those so concerned on personality and the mental aspects, one item that is not debatable is the Isles onus on character, mental aspects, personality, besides a myriad of analytics. So the fact they were so quick and committed to grab him speaks volumes on this debate.
Ultimately, this will only be answered as he develops. He is young, raw, and immensely talented, and must gain size and maturity. He needs at least 3 to 4 years of development, and despite the debate! the Isles feel they got a surefire top 6 forward.
If you add up the round, the NY Islanders got TWO offensive dynamos. In Dal Colle, they get a more talented Josh Bailey who might be more surefire for the top 6. In Ho-Sang, they get a top two line or bust player who might who they feel might be the better version of Grabner.
In fact, if I was Josh Bailey or Grabner, I might be looking over my shoulder very soon as the team seems to covet the attributes but looking for more upside than both of these players. That kind of writing on the wall can’t really be missed.
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.