The Best of the “System”

Usually, we pee on everything Garth Snow does. Today, we plan on praising this loser. Understand that as of this writing, Snow tails Milbury by both three drafts and by three playoff appearances. Chew on that for a bit. So understand when we say that Snow’s drafts are awful, there’s a very real and direct subject to compare him with. However, we want to look at what successes came from the Snow regime. By successes, some folks insist that the Islanders have some form of mathematical formula that determines draft positioning. If so, then Snow deserves no credit in any way for the draft. However, since we have no proof that such a system exists to the extent that it would render a general manager impotent, we’re going to hand credit to Snow for these winners.

 

So about the list- first off, you have to be in the NHL and have been a contributor for a fair amount of time in order to be considered. Secondly, those with no NHL time cannot be considered.  We understand that there have been a couple players drafted, most recently Ryan Pulock, that could be considered winners. However it is only a theory, since none of those draftees have proven themselves at an NHL level.  Were the players that made this list have career ending injuries, would still belong on this list because they have indeed proven themselves to be NHL players.  It would be hard to consider a player with no NHL experience a win without basing it on more than just potential or expectations. After all, three years ago Nino Niederreiter was supposed to be Todd Bertuzzi, and now Islander fans think he’s going to be Brad Isbister. So, without further adieu:

 

Garth Snow’s Top Only Five Successes In The NHL

I'm done with this one!

I’m done with this one!

5) Matt Martin – Martin is a hard hitting, tough playing, energy player that demands his teammates play as hard as he does. Although a contract holdout at one point- a supposed no-no among Islander fans- Martin showed his worth as an Islander immediately by beating the crap out of some Calgary goon in response to a Dion Phaneuf hit on a heads down skating Kyle Okposo. He’s never going to be a 20 goal scorer, but he’s going to be an entertaining 4th line player who can also contribute on the PK. The only downside would be if injuries creep into his game, which often happens to players of this ilk.   But, we’ll deal with that if it happens.  Until then Matt Martin is a player worthy of being a fan favorite and even we can’t piss on Garth Snow for drafting him.

 

I know karate.

I know karate.

4) Jared Spurgeon – OK, so he’s not an Islander, but he is a Snow draft pick that walked onto the Minnesota Wild, which last we checked was still in the NHL despite their owner’s crying bankruptcy days after he handed out $200 million worth of contracts. If Spurgeon was still Islander property, fans would talk about how this player is ready to take the next step and be a half a point a game player. The Wild likes him enough to have given his a 3 year deal worth $8 million this past summer ($2.67 mil per), after coming off of an Andrew MacDonald like contract.  With the drafting of what seems like thirty-five defenseman since losing Spurgeon, we would imagine this is one Garth would like to have back.

 

Typical Penisguins cheap shot on Cizikas

Typical Penisguins cheap shot on Cizikas

3) Casey Cizikas – This was a bold draft choice, even for the 4th round. Not because of talent, but because at the time of the draft Cizikas was on trial for manslaughter. He was found guilty of such but, thanks to the family of the victim begging the judge for leniency, was given probation and community service. Cizikas has never looked back, having his best junior years after the case concluded, and has given the fourth line the definition it needed as far as what role it served and how it plays its game. A fantastic shot in the arm, considering that the fourth line was the homes of Jay Pandolfo, Marty Reasoner, and a cast of other scrubs and one special past lottery draft pick.

 

2) Travis Hamonic – Travis stands out on this list for two reasons. First, he’s a defenseman that actually plays for the Islanders, unlike everyone else on this list or drafted to play defense by Sn

Hamonic also studies swordfigthing in the offseason. He's practicing with a girl here.

Hamonic also studies swordfigthing in the offseason. He’s practicing with a girl here.

ow. Secondly, he’s the only second round draft pick ever taken by Garth Snow to contribute as a regular in the NHL. Hamonic as of now, in our opinions, is one of the best #3 defensemen in the NHL. His lack of shut down ability and/or lack of offensive game keeps him from being a top pairing defenseman, despite how much Islander fans love him and want that for him. He may get there; he may not. Regardless, Hamonic earned himself a 7 year deal three years before he had to. The fact is, Hamonic is guaranteed to be an Islander until he’s 29, barring trade. If he continues on his current path and the 492 defensemen drafted since him turn out as planned – which included three first round picks at defense with one being a lottery pick- then Hamonic will slot properly and make this team’s second defensive unit a huge issue for opposing forwards.  Even If he never takes the next step to become a top pairing defenseman like we would all like him to, he is a homerun of a pick, no question.

 

Not in '11. but eventually.

Not in ’11. but eventually.

1) John Tavares. Best pick Snow’s ever made, hands down, nothing comes close. Tavares was the best player overall in the 2009 draft at the time, and has been every day since. We recall sitting in the parking lot of the Nassau Coliseum listening to NHL on XM when the announcers said that Snow decided to take Matt Duchene, and immediately went insane with anti Snow venom. While Snow didn’t flub the pick, the story that emerged later was that Snow indeed was going to pick Duchene, but Wang stepped in and overruled him. You read that right- the guy that knew nothing about hockey told a former NHL player who to choose to play in the NHL. Guess after Snow signing DiPietro for 15 years on Wang’s command after two guys quit on him over the same request, Wang felt he could throw his weight around on personnel decisions on draft day as well without any protest from ol’ character-master-judger Snow. We are beyond happy that Tavares is on this team because, lets face it, Tavares IS this team. We just hope and pray that he gets some help in the form of an elite wing and a capable second line center soon. Ryan Strome looks good at either role, but he can’t do both. John Tavares is everything and more you want a franchise player and he is the best Islander in quite some time.

The jury is still out on Kevin Poulin, Matt Donovan, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Anders Nilsson. So, 7 drafts, 53 picks, 5 winners, 4 on his team, 2 on the fourth line: a success rate of roughly 8%. If you consider Josh Bailey a gem, make it just under ten percent. Over 7 years, that’s less than a player a year. And you wonder why, despite all of the other stuff, we keep bringing it back to the same thesis- more of the same.

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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. KO21 says:

    You start off saying you are gonna praise the guy and call him a loser in the same sentence. I wonder why I read this crap. I guess everyone likes to see a train wreck. Its hard to look away. Its not that I am a Kool Aide drinker. not even close. But you guys have an ax to grind. Its not becoming.

    and JT was not the best pick Garth has ever made. That was a dunk shot. The best pick Garth ever made was Hammer. he was off the radar and was picked in the 2nd round.

  2. KO21 says:

    and this is the first Ive heard about Garth wanting to pick Duchene. One thing about Snow is he doesnt show his cards. I don’t believe that BS. Show us a link with proof of this rumor

  3. Jethro09 says:

    I don’t know why I keep coming back to your posts and reading them. It must be like passing a bad car accident: one just can’t take its eyes off of it.

    When you write a sentence stating that Snow trails Mike Milbury in both playoff appearances and drafts, you’re implying that you’re going to compare the two. I don’t know how long either of you fellas have been Islander fans, but if think that Snow has done a worse job than Mike Milbury, then there is no help for either of you. You’re both helplessly misinformed and lost.

    Snow has not been Ken Holland or Ray Shero or Peter Chiarelli, but he certianly hasn’t been as bad as Milbury was for the time he was at the helm. You cite the team’s record of below .500 as “proof” that Snow is a “loser”. Yet, you completely ignore the starting point Snow was working from when he first took over and what resources he had and currently has to work with.

    Snow took a franchise that had a miserable on-ice product (non-playoff team the last season of MM’s tenure) and had absolutely no farm system depth (Of the picks MM didn’t trade away in a fit of anger or impatience, Nielsen turned out to be Milbury’s best “prospect” in the system at the time of his departure). Milbury ran the entire franchise into the ground, from the NHL level all the way down. When Milbury wasn’t trading away the Luongos, Jokinens, Spezzas, Charas, McCabes and Bertuzzis, he was drafting asshats like Blake Comeau, Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra, Sean Bergenheim, Petteri Nokalienen, Dustin Kohn, etc. Snow was given nothing to work with from a player/prospect standpoint when he took over and has the financial resources of a junior team. Those facts weigh heavily on the team’s record during Snow’s tenure.

    Since taking over in 2006-07, Snow has completely rebuilt the farm system and has a team on the ice now that made the playoffs last year, is young and who’s core is signed long term. Snow drafted more NHL contributors in the 2008 draft (see Bailey, Hamonic, Martin, Poulin, Ullstrom) than Milbury did in five drafts. That’s not even counting Donovan and Spurgeon.

    The Isles farm system is ranked #2 in all of hockey. You can take the cop out and say that “Well, anyone can do that if they pick at the bottom long enough” and you might be somewhat right, but tell that to Columbus, Florida, Tampa, Calgary and some of the other perennial bottom-feeders out there who can’t get out of their own way and don’t have nearly the farm system the Isles do.

    As for the nonsense that you say Snow wanted to draft Duchene, go ahead and believe some blogger over using common sense. Its almost as absurd as the nonsense that Snow wanted to trade last year’s entire draft for Ryan Murray. The Isles are unfortuately still the butt of ridiculous rumors like these because there are people out there that buy into the perception that Snow is shit because he was hired straight from the bench. At the very least, Snow has shown everyone that he can make the no-brainer decisions and JT was as close to a no-brainer #1 overall pick that we’ve seen in 20 years.

    You claim Snow’s success rate at the draft is “8%”, yet you ignore the fact that many of those 53 picks were taken between 2011-2013, where practically none of the players taken in those drafts are NHL ready. Picks need time to mature and develop, unless you throw them to the wolves too early (which admittedly Snow is guilty of with Nino and Bailey).

    Nobody is saying there isn’t room for improvement with Snow, but to say he’s a “loser” and to basically shit on everything is done reeks of bias. It seems that you’re both still caught up on the way Snow got the job (which I agree was absurd) and can’t accept that he’s done any good because he was promoted from the end of the bench. But if you look at it objectively, this organization is much better off now than when Milbury was dismissed.

    • MattandDan says:

      J,

      First off, we want you as a guest on our upcoming podcast. If you’re interested let us know here and we’ll sort stuff out via email.

      Now, to respond:

      If you look at the quality of player milbury drafted, Snow is just about on the same pace as far as NHL impact. Everyone raves about Snow’s vaunted rebuilding of the minor- what are those minors producing? Snow has had 7 drafts now, and he has produced a first liner, a 3rd liner, 2 4th liners, a second pair dman, and a backup goalie. 7 drafts, 5 lottery picks, 7 1st rounders, and only 5 starters? Not a great case to make for his drafting.

      Despite how lovely a farm system is, a farm system does one of two things- produce NHL players, or produce trade chips. Snow has managed to do neither. And understand that of the 2011 draft class, only ONE of the top ten draft picks hasn’t seen time in the nhl. that means that Strome was a bad pick at 5, as 6-10 are already in the league, or it means that Snow is afraid to expose his picks to scrutiny of regular shifts. Look at Poulin and Nillson. they’re 23. How much seasoning does a player need before you declare bust?

      Just to correct you, the way snow got the job may be ridiculous, but it’s not unprecedented. Many players have been player managers, player coaches, or gone from retirement to front office. the part about Snow that is alarming is his lack of integrity, his overloyalty to his guys (he was against firing scott gordon, who has proven both in toronto and with US juniors that overspeed is overcooked), and his failure to admit mistakes.

      We want this team to win. We think that’s impossible with Snow calling shots. Is this a better off place than how milbury left it? Feelings wise, yes. Results wise, no. Understand Milbury traded many guys that became legitimate NHLers. Snow holds onto those guys and never gives them a shot. 2 sides of a coin.

      Again, we’re interested in having you as a guest. you can contact us via twitter or email if you’re in. the email should be in our profile.

      • Jethro09 says:

        As for the podcast, I truly appreciate the invite, but I’m going to pass. I’m not top keen on it and like to just read, comment and respond. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

    • MattandDan says:

      I almost overlooked this. Milbury wasn’t dismissed. He stepped down as GM and held title of advisor for a year or two until he voluntarily left. Wang doesn’t care about winning, wang was all for land snatching.

      • Jethro09 says:

        semantics. He was about to get kicked to the curb for his failures and Wang threw him a bone by giving Milbury a title of overseeing his “sports operation” with the Isles and Dragons. I believe MM didn’t voluntarily walk away from the GM role. He was nudged out.

        As for Wang, I agree that his interest in the team was to buy it so he could get his foot in the door to develop the property. He never had an interest in hockey before buying the team, which leads to the only logical conclusion that he had an ulterior motive in buying the team: a/k/a the Lighthouse Project.

        that being said, I think the guy has pride I don’t think he wants his name to be associated with a losing team or product. The man has known nothing but success in his life until buying the Isles. So, while I don’t think his drive to win is Steinbrenner-esque, I think his pride alone makes him want to ice a winning team. However, it takes more than pride to win. Getting the team venue certainty in Brooklyn in a state of the art arena is a good way to improve the team.