Destination Unknown, part 2

Part Two: Does it feel drafty in here?

Snow inherited a team that made the playoffs with regularity, and had a polarizing but successful head coach. Theorizing that the playoff team handed to him was underwhelming, Snow started what is lovingly referred to as a rebuild by fans, and a disaster by anybody else’s standard. Let us try to analyze the direction of this rebuild, and how maybe there is a better way.

Snow’s Islanders have finished 5th in the Atlantic. Every year. Out of five teams. Snow’s reluctance to trade for NHL quality and ability to blame an arena for free agency failings  means that the only way the Islanders will improve is via the entry draft and the waiver wire. And Snow has a home run in the draft in John Tavares- the best player this team has produced since Ziggy Palffy. He also drafted Josh Bailey, who is most famous for the Islanders being able to trade for a lower draft pick TWICE to take him because there wasn’t much consensus that Bailey was a top ten draft pick. For every Travis Hamonic Snow chose, he has a few Cody Rosen’s and Jyri Nyemi’s. For a team SO dependent on a draft, that’s a hard hand to play. Snow has moved players and picks enough to have had seven first round picks in the last five years, but only two are on the roster, and half that many are effective. Of course the jury is still out on some of the more recent picks, but the selection of Calvin de Haan may be the most frustrating one of all for Islander fans. By trading up in the first round in 2009 to choose de Haan, the Islanders passed on a defenseman in the 2010 draft with similar skills that was available- Cam Fowler- and chose a forward in 2010- Nino Niederreiter  And based on present evidence, its entirely feasible that available picks Cam Fowler – Sean Couturier will have superior careers compared to what the Islanders took in their stead, Calvin de Haan – Nino Niederreiter. I assume this because Fowler has 69 points over two seasons compared to ONE NHL GAME for de Haan, and Couturier had a 27 point rookie season compared to Nino’s 3 points over 2 seasons.


Everybody is high on Ryan Strome – authors included – and Griffin Reinhart looks like a solid choice as well.  It’s also interesting that Snow is drafting the children of hockey pedigree (Brock Nelson!), but when you look at the head coach the Islanders employ, you need as many professional hands on deck as possible. In fact, we wouldn’t be shocked if the father-son games add a bench spot once those guys make the team.


Counterintuitively, if your believe that the best and only true route to build a team is to use the entry draft, why would you offer your entire draft for one player? Luckily there’s a GM dumber than Snow that said no to the move. Would we move an entire draft for Wayne Gretzky in his prime? Yup. Would we move it for a guy who is already nursing an injury? deHaan part deux?


Teams go through rebuilds. Teams like Pittsburgh. Chicago. Boston. And they’ve got the cups to prove that its a viable route to success. Their turnaround was five years. Here we sit in year six of the Snow legacy, in a shortened season where most pundits mention contention and Islanders in the same breath- for the first overall pick in the entry draft. Seth Jones or Nathan Mackinnon?

But there is hope. Despite bungling most of what he touches, Snow has put together the bones of a competitive team. He needs to add muscle. Parts three and four will tie this all together.

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About the Author: We are two long time hockey fans who certainly have our own opinions and points of view. Feel free to share yours. Follow on twitter @joshbarely

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  1. bcarroll25 says:

    You claim Snow chose this path. Snow keeps his job, same as Milbury did, by doing what the owner tells him to do. It’s why Neil Smith and Pat Lafontaine left, they weren’t yes men to Wang. It’s clear through the salary floor circumvention that Snow has a bare bones budget, so what choice did he have?

  2. Scott says:

    All Snow had to do was keep his mouth shut. I agree that he is on a tight budget but he repeatedly claims the money and resources are there to improve the team. If he wants to say it, I will hold him accountable to his words.

    As for the Tavares pick being a “home run”. It was hit off a tee with the fences 30 feet from home plate. A schizophrenic chimpanzee would have made that pick. That shouldn’t impact a positive glow on Snow at all. If anything, the disaster of a roster Garth fielded,the reason why they had the #1 overall pick to begin with,is what matters counts toward Snow’s record.

  3. aryeh says:

    A few points:
    1.I understand you are upset that the isles have made the playoffs once since the last lockout, but can you really say we they were perrenially a good team. Every year was the same, a loss to a much better team. The isles were good enough to MAKE the playoffs but not to COMPETE in them.
    2. Snow realized this and started to build this team through the draft. Not every pick is going to be a good one. To hate on snow that he picked a Cody Rosen or Mikko Koskenien when he has consistiently made solid draft choices is unfair. The Islanders are just starting to see the efforts of the rebuild creeping into the NHL. Guys like Cizikas, Ullstome, Hamonic, Poulin and Nelson are all players who will contribute sooner rather than later to this team.
    3. Boston is not a team that built through the draft. Pittsburg and Chicago each had multiple very early picks (Pittsburg has crosby malkin, Stall and fluery 1,1,2,1. Chigago has Kane Barker and Toewes 1,3,3.
    4. The early Islanders used this same method and it took them 6-7 years after they drafted potvin in 1973. Eventually after stockpiling good picks like Gillies, Tottier, Bossy, Tonelli and nystrom they made trades necessary to become stanley cup champions. The Islanders over the past four to five years were not willing to give up young talent to make themselves mediocre. Amy expert would agree that the islanders have one of the best farm systems in the leauge. That translates into a very good team in a few short years.
    5. A model taem the islanders can copy are the LA Kings they were always a below average team byt with a handful of solid picks and a few good trades at the right time led them to a cup.(picks Kopitar, Quick, Martinez, Voynov, and Doughty. Trades for carter and richards)
    When the Islanders started this rebuild everyone knew it would be a couple of years but we are now starting to see a team that can become a yearly stanley cup contender. With a new home and a young skilled team there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel (aka rebuild)

    • MattandDan says:

      While we love your optimism, I’m not having faith in the fact that of the 7 first round draft picks Snow has made in the last 5 years (not to mention all of the one’s he’s brought in via waiver wire)we have seen one player live up to expectations. One.

      Good point about Boston, They used savvy trades and free agent signings to win a cup. We have savvy trades…eh, no we don’t. But your counterpoint is appreciated.

      • ChrisTriants says:

        You haven’t even given these guys a chance to make it in the NHL. It’s not Snow’s fault Calvin de Haan is injured. Brock Nelson looks like he will be here. Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Strome are well on their way. Nino Niederreiter was put in a shitty situation last year. He will score goals at the NHL level. Give it a chance. Out of the guys we drafted in the first round, only Tavares was ready to go straight to the NHL. Others needed developing, and seem on track to be successful. Regardless what you think of Bailey, he played well last season on the defensive side of the puck.

        Also, Mikko Koskinen is playing extremely well in Finland. To bash Snow on Cody Rosen, a 7th round pick, while the Islanders have several other late round picks that look to be successful, is ridiculous. Appreciated, but ridiculous.

        • MattandDan says:

          You overlook that when it came to promote de Haan, Donovan, and Ness the Islanders…went and got two waiver wire pickups instead. In year 6 of the rebuild. But it’s the NEXT wave of prospects that are the ones we have to look out for? The wave where everyone is saying that Brock Nelson has third line potential? That Couturier has more goals in parts of one season than Nino has in parts of two? Are you going to suggest that we overlook Strome’s 3 point a game production and say he’s not ready…then consider another waiver wire/retread free agent? Would you want One Goal Gomez on this squad? I’ll pass on that.

          Glad you commented. I’ll look to yours to do the same.

          • ChrisTriants says:

            I don’t know if Donovan and Ness are ready. Admittedly, I expected Donovan and Ness this season, but I’m not unhappy giving a waiver wire pickup like Hickey a chance for these 48 games (if he even lasts that many),

            Brock Nelson is a very solid prospect. I think Brock Nelson has “third-line potential” because Strome is our obvious number-two. Nelson can play a similar role to Jordan Staal in Pittsburgh if it works out…and expect Nelson to see time in the NHL this season.

            Nino’s situation was just different. Couturier played well, and found himself excelling with talent around him in the role he was meant to play….Nino, a goal-scorer, played with guys who, arguably, shouldn’t be in the NHL anymore.

            Strome is playing close to two-point per game. That’s not to nitpick, and regardless, it’s still impressive. I do think he deserves time in the NHL, or at least a shot. Season hasn’t started, and he very well might get it.

            I’ll pas on Gomez, too. You can read my latest article for that one.

            Anyways, I respect your opinion. Welcome to Hockey Independent.