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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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