Drafting is hardly a science. You’re looking at a bunch of teenagers and are trying to figure in your mind which will be NHL ready today, in a year, in two years, three years, etc. Islander fans like to talk about Garth Snow’s vaunted drafting ability, specifically pointing to the 2008 draft which produced 9 NHL players. Surely a benchmark of some sort, likely that a team had enough holes to have 8 roster spots filled from just one draft. To give some credit, one of the guys from that draft that did not make the Islanders roster did manage to catch on with another NHL club. And also to be fair, it was a defenseman, which means that by passing up on offering Jared Spurgeon a contract we got to see years of the likes of Mike Mottau, Milan Jurcina, Steve Staios, and Joe Finley patrolling the Isles blueline.
Islander fans that are fast to praise the 2008 draft are just as fast to dismiss the 2007 draft, which produced not a single regular NHL players. People chalk it up to excuses like Snow learning on the job, the lack of a first round choice that year, some nebulous system that lets Snow get all the credit for good picks but none of the blame for bad ones, no character guys from that year, or whatever other excuse du jour is out there. Those fans also overlook the lack of help coming out of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 drafts, drafts in which the Islanders held not only lottery picks but also extra first round picks and in some cases early second round picks.
As an aside, 70% of the 2008 Islanders draft has seen time in the NHL, which may seem amazing, but that was an outlying draft year- roughly 50% of the 2008 draft saw time in the NHL. Comparing that to say 2010, 20% of players drafted have seen the NHL, yet 33% of the Islanders drafted have seen the NHL. That in-house draft stat is about how many holes exist in your team in the present, not the quality of the drafting. Besides, how many of those guys stick and contribute versus passing through and having a cup of coffee?
Aside from not getting much from the five first round lottery picks Snow has used, diehards also overlook the generally poor job Snow has done in the second round. For every Travis Hamonic there’s a…well, actually, that’s all of the players that the second round ever produced for the draft master. Scott Mayfield is the same age Hamonic was when he broke into the league, so with how well that’s turned out for the Islanders, expect Mayfield to be in Bridgeport this year – Snow logic!
As we’ve spent a few months analyzing the drafting of Garth Snow, just like other GM’s he’s had hits and misses. Unlike most GM’s, however, he isn’t held accountable to achieving a winning standard and just keeps wasting draft picks like they aren’t franchise building blocks allotted to repair losing season after losing season. We’ve looked at his awful drafting in previous pieces like this one where Snow shows the same draft acumen as Mike Milbury, but today we’re going to delve into what, in our opinion, are the ten worst, most wasted picks ever offered up from Snow. Limiting ourselves to ten admittedly was tough, and you can feel free to chirp in with your own opinions in the comments section, but ala David Letterman, let us start off with the
TOP TEN WASTED DRAFT PICKS OF GARTH SNOW
10) Jyri Niemi – Snow’s first pick towards resurrecting Mike Milbury’s Redwoods Defense, this 3rd round pick shows Snow’s ability to judge talent and project growth regarding larger defensemen. Be very afraid, 3rd round pick Andrey Pedan.
9a) Drafting Guys with names of other NHL players- It didn’t work for Milbury with Brett Lindros, and it didn’t work with David Toews or Blake Kessel.
9b) 50% of the college loophole – Blake Kessel and his buddy Jason Gregoire get special props as being 2 of the 4 players to invoke the old CBA’s college loophole. That’s 30 teams, over a thousand draft picks, and Snow manages to nail down 50% of players who flat out said “that place runs like a circus, and we know that despite having nothing else to compare it to professionally.”
8) The dearth at Right Wing- while usually you can pick on a specific player, this time we’re hitting a whole position. 7 drafts worth of picks, just 2 rights wings, and only one in the system. Goaltenders have been drafted at 150% more frequency as right wings, yet each team needs 200% more right wings than goalies. What’s worse is that one of the right wing’s has already been promised a spot on the team despite underwhelming numbers in Russia. But that’s not the worst. Kiril Petrov looked at his life in the KHL, where plane crashes kill entire teams, versus the Islanders organization, where management only kills years off of careers, and chose to roll his dice with plane crashes. Bravo on successfully filling an organizational need. For Kazan AK Bars. Guess we’ll just stick some centers on the wing. It worked for Josh Bailey, right?
7) The Trade That Never Was – a whole draft for the SECOND best player in the draft? The Philadelphia Flyers made that offer with the Pittsburgh Penguins for Mario Lemieux, who was a generational although ultimately underachieving talent. But for Ryan Murray, who has shoulders ala Calvin De Haan? Yikes. And since you did it once, why not make that offer the next season when Seth Jones, arguably the number one player in the draft, was available at picks 3 and 4? Were you afraid of the media making fun of you AGAIN?
6) Josh Bailey – Snow’s first ever first round pick. That’s all you have to show for it. Understand that Bailey was supposed to be the second line center putting up points behind John Tavares. Also understand that there are defensemen from his draft class with more points than Bailey. DEFENSEMEN. Then there are forwards with more points as well. Granted that wasn’t a strong offensive draft- 4 of the first 5 picks were defensemen- but there were players taken after Bailey who would better fit on this team, like Jordan Eberle or Cody Hodgson that were ranked higher than Bailey, but hey- Snow knows best. Except when it comes to what player to trade for in the draft.
5) Corey Trivino - A big fan of the band sublime, just took one of their songs too far with. Had a nice year in the ECHL – almost a point a game- but Snow has a line he draws. Manslaughter is ok as long as it’s punished with community service and probation. But probation for playing kissing a girl while drunk? Zero tolerance.
4) Cody Rosen – maybe Garth was just trying to see if we were still paying attention. He’s a character pick, for sure, but the use of the word character when it means you’re trying to be funny. If you say, “Come on, Codey Rosen? You guys are really stretching here,” just insert Mikko Koskinen and refer to yet another second round pick to not contribute on this team.
3) The entire 2007 draft – WTF. 11 games in the NHL. All from one player. Anyone defending this disastrous draft needs to be dismissed as a dunce.
2) Calvin de Haan – To acquire de Haan, get this:
|Islanders acquire:||Islanders trade:|
|Calvin de Haan||Chris Campoli|
|2nd round pick (37th overall)|
|3rd round pick (62nd overall)|
|3rd round pick (82nd overall)|
|4th round pick (92nd overall)|
de Haan was a reach at 12 overall. As per Chris Botta, an assistant GM he spoke with said de Haan would have been available at 16, and likely as low as 20. And to Snow’s credit, de Haan has a resume spanning one NHL game. This is the pick that caused us to not pick Cam Fowler and instead draft Nino Niederreiter – two players who have something in common- they aren’t playing for the Islanders.
1) Nino Niederreiter – franchise building power forward? Nah, just a lottery pick used to acquire a fourth liner with knee injury and concussion issues.
Ironically, this article started out as the top ten draft picks made by Garth Snow when we realized, there aren’t ten helping the Islanders. We had to narrow it down to five, which you can find here. In the meantime, we’ll keep on pointing out that until Snow starts wearing big boy pants as a GM, when he has a training camp with actual competition instead of 21 guaranteed contracts coming into camp, we’re going to continue to point out that Snow’s efforts to improve this team thus far this summer have been a hot pile of 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