Well, as we learned last year there may be only 3 people who know the answer to that question. But that won’t stop us from breaking down who the Islanders may be interested in at #5. If you look at this draft, you’d have to assume that Edmonton and Boston will take Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin 1-2 as that is all but assured at this point. So let’s look at the other 6 players that could be available to the Islanders.
This is in not in any order of preference, I will list them in the order the International Scouting Service (ISS) have ranked them in their final report.
ISS surprisingly ranked Gormley ahead of other 2010 stud defenseman Cam Fowler and Erik Gudbranson (who we’ll get to later). Gormley, who plays for former Islanders assistant coach Danny Flynn in Moncton is a offensive defenseman who has superior playmaking skills and has a remarkable ability to find the open man with a crisp pass. As stated in the report, he’s not a flashy skater like Fowler, or has the hulking frame of Gudbranson, but has the highest hockey IQ. He is able to make quick decisions both offensively and defensively making minimal mistakes. There seems to be no major weakness in his game and he has a huge upside. The way he plays the game so calmly ISS compares his style of play to Nicklas Lidstrom.
Novosibirsk – KHL
In another surprise, ISS ranked Tarasenko in the top 5. Tarasenko is an explosive goal scorer with fantastic speed and puck handling skills. He scores several goals in transition mostly resulting from a turnover he caused. He scored many shorthanded goals this season showing how lethal he can be every time he takes the ice. He has a lightning quick release and has been known to bring the crowd to its feet with his moves and scoring ability. ISS states his NHL Potential is a top line scoring threat who can be relied on as a go to guy in all situations. His style compares to that of former Islander fan favorite Ziggy Palffy.
Windsor Spitfires – OHL
Fowler is generally considered the top defenseman in the 2010 draft class. He has that distinction for a number of reasons, mostly because of his speed and puck handling skills which are supposed to be world class. Fowler is an outstanding skater which allows him to pinch, and is smart enough to know when not to, and has the speed to make up for any mistakes. His skill set allows him the ability to control a game as he can be trusted to be a 25 minute a night defenseman and have high offensive output as well. On the defensive side, he plays the angles extremely well and can read the play. He also understands how to limit an opposing players space and has the ability to simply take the puck from them. He is a cornerstone defenseman and someone a team can build around. ISS compares his style to the Blackhawks Duncan Keith.
Portland Winterhawks – WHL
Niederreiter is a prototypical power forward. His plays an extremely gritty game, and has a fantastic shot. He has a knack for scoring clutch goals, and has a superior hockey sense. Nino works hard every shift on the ice and competes in every situation to give his team a chance to win. He is a relentless forechecker and uses his booming shot off the rush. ISS states his NHL potential as a PP triggerman and a top line power forward. They also state his style compares to that of future Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan.
Kingston Frontenacs – OHL
All you need to know about Gudbranson is what ISS lists as his strengths Great Size, Competitiveness, Leadership Skills. Gudbranson is not a flashy high scoring defenseman like Fowler, but he will be a franchise cornerstone player because of his intensity and character. He is a good skater and is confident with the puck. He has imposing size and loves to hit. Gudbranson takes advantage of his size and uses his physical tools , he plays with a mean streak and with an edge. He most certainly will be a top NHL Defenseman that can log a ton of ice time, remind you of any other NHL defenseman?….after reading the report I immediately thought of Chris Pronger…when I got to the part of the report that compares his style of play, Chris Pronger.
Prince George Cougars – WHL
Finally we get to Brett Connolly, who ISS ranks 13th in their final report. As most know Connolly missed most of this season with a hip injury, he came back late in the year and showed the same scoring prowess that had him at the top of this draft class a year ago. Connolly is considered a exceptional offensive talent. He has the ability to take over a game and seemingly scores at will at times. He is an elite talent and can dominate. He is a masterful puck handler and has good speed. He can flat out score if given the chance and is also listed as a opportunistic playmaker as well, as he can make players around him better. The only question is his durability. If he is able to show he is healthy and can remain that way, he may not make it to the 5th pick, otherwise, he may drop to the mid first round, which would make him a steal. Connolly’s NHL potential is a offensive cornerstone and his style of play is similar to that of impressive Colorado winger Chris Stewart.
Looking at the current draft order, Florida picks 3rd and Columbus has the 4th pick. Both of those teams need defenseman, and many mock drafts show either of them taking a combination of Fowler and Gudbranson with those 2 picks. But as we saw last year, when teams fall in love, they can go off the board a little for a player who they are in love with. The Islanders did it with Josh Bailey a few years back and again with Calvin deHaan last season. If Florida decides that Connolly is healthy and isn’t worried about his hip….it’s very possible they take him at 3. Columbus would be less likely to do that with Rick Nash already anchoring their top line on the left side. I really don’t see a situation where Fowler falls to 5 (though that is my hope), so I will assume that if the Islanders are to take a defenseman it will be between Gormley and Gudbranson. I should also state that in the ISS mock draft it lists the Islanders taking Niederreiter 5th overall.
There is no way to predict how this thing will shake out, especially since we don’t know how who will still be on the board and that may mean everything this June 25th,but fi I had to list in order who I want, it would look like this….
My reasoning for listing the defenseman first, With the Islanders having signed Calvin deHaan and Travis Hamonic to their entry level deals, it would be a huge piece of the puzzle to add a potential all star defenseman to that group. Fowler, Gormley and Gudbranson are just that. Connolly is extremely intriguing if healthy, and Neiderreiter and Tarasenko are excellent prospects as well….but as we have seen potential all star defenseman don’t grow on trees, and one of the above mentioned prospects will be available at #5. My preference would be to take one.
The Islanders have 6 picks in the top 95, so that’s a lot of ground to cover. Next week we’ll look at the 2nd round (Isles choose 35th and 58th) and who may be available to the Islanders.
About the Author: The New York Islanders have been a huge part of my life since I was 7 years old, and during the past 27 years I have experience many ups and downs with this team. The back end of 4 straight Stanley Cups, the Drive for 5, the Easter Epic, trading of my heroes John Tonelli, and Kelly Hrudey. Mike Bossy's early retirement, Pat LaFontaine for Pierre Turgeon, Dale Hunter, David Volek, Ron Hextall, Al Arbour's retirement, Bill Torrey to Florida, Mike Milbury, John Spano, The Milstein's, Hoistgate, the sale to Charles Wang, Draft Day 2000, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca, Milbury's "reassignement", 40 days of Neil Smith, Ted Nolan, The Lighthouse Project, Kate Murray, Scott Gordon, going from 5 to 7 to 9, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Calvin deHaan, El Nino, the 2 Kirill's and hopefully.....much, much more. I have been an Islanders blogger for the past 3 years, starting on Myspace, then for IslesNation.com and currently for HockeyIndependent.com, and I have been selected to the 2010-2011 New York Islanders Blog Box. I am an IT Manager for a quite large facility working for a government agency. I am married for 7 years to an incredibly patient woman and am the proud father of a beautiful 1 year old daughter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: Twitter.com/tonystabile