In what most would consider the strangest 1st round in quite some time, the 2010 NHL Entry draft got off to a bang only 3 picks into the first round.
The Islanders, who owned the 5th overall pick, would have a selection of players they wouldn’t expect. The Columbus Blue Jackets blew everyone away by selecting C Ryan Johansen with the 4th pick. Johansen was a top 10 rated player and someone ISS said was a Eric Staal lookalike. But at 4 with players like Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley, Jack Campbell, Nino Niederriter, Brett Connolly still on the board….Johansen was a bit of a stretch.
Now at 5 the Islanders had a choice, take the flashy Fowler or go for the guy they wanted all along. Niederriter was that player. I won’t say I was stunned, because I wasn’t, I figured that a franchise defenseman has slipped to you, take advantage of that. As we learned quickly, teams 4-11 obviously didn’t think as highly of Fowler or Brandon Gormley as some fans did as they tumbled all the way to 11 and 12.
As we saw Nino Niederriter was their man and he would don the brand new Away Jersey on the stage with Owner Charles Wang, GM Garth Snow, Assistant GM Ryan Jankowski and for some reason, actor Kevin Connolly. In Niederriter (a player fans call El Nino) the Islanders add some much needed size and a player who seems to play at his best when the game is on the line. Niederriter has been known to be a go to guy in key situations and scores big goals. He has a wicked shot and doesn’t shy away from playing the body. Needless to say, he isn’t like anyone on the team as of now. Nino is the youngest player in the draft only being 17 and made the eligibility by a few days, should have the opportunity to go back to the Portland Winter Hawks and enjoy another development season, but you never know do you.
Snow later revealed to reporters that he attempted to move back (again to hopefully take Niederriter) at a later pick but the deal never materialized. He also stated he tried to move up to nab either Fowler or Gormley while they were in free fall but weas unable to make a deal.
He did in fact make a deal with the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks for the 30 (and last pick) in the 1st round. The Islanders traded their 35th and 57th (acquired from Ottawa through San Jose) in the Andy Sutton deal to get the 30th pick. The Islanders, much like last year when they went all the way to 12 to select Calvin deHaan, Snow and assistant GM Ryan Jankowski identified “their” guy and went after him. They selected big center Brock Nelson with the 30th pick out of Warroad Minnesota. After his media scrum, was greeted by Islander Right Wing and fellow Minnesotian (not sure if that’s even a word, but it sounds good) Kyle Okposo. Nelson is another big boy standing at almost 6’3” tall and is already over 200lbs. He will attend North Dakota this fall.
Nelson was ranked 26th by ISS and had an outstanding year at MN High School level this year averaging nearly 1.5 points a game. He projects to be a good secondary scoring option and someone who brings tons of energy every time he hits the ice. He needs to work on his quickness and his skating some, but his hands are top notch and is excellent with the puck. Not afraid to play the body either.
You have to give credit to Garth Snow and Ryan Jankowski as they definitely have a plan, and are sticking to it. The Islanders have had 4 first round selections the past 2 years and their growing list of prospects seems to get more and more impressive. He hasn’t steered away from this plan in the least, even at the deadline this past season, with the playoffs within reach he would not mortgage his future. Considering the Islanders are under the salary cap floor for this coming season, starting Thursday July 1st, the team should be a tad active in the market. Though they will not be bringing home Ilya Kovalchuk, they could add some grit and some secondary scoring options like Alexei Ponikarovski or even an Eric Nystrom. They may look to add a defenseman as well, though I believe the above mentioned areas are most important.
Listing the Islanders top 10 Prospects…
1. Nino Niederriter LW
2. Calvin deHaan D
3. Travis Hamonic D
4. Jesse Joensuu LW
5. Kirill Petrov LW
6. Matt Donovan D
7. Aaron Ness D
8. Rhett Rakhshani RW
9. Mikko Koskinen G
10. Casey Cizikas C
Now add John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Andrew MacDonald, Jack Hillen and you’ll see the amount of talent Snow and Co. has been able to put together the past 4 years.
Hopefully the Islanders will be able to get back into the 2nd round and choose a player (like John McFarland or Kirill Kabanov) with a home run pick as they have already drafted a player they really wanted, and a player they can develop. Selecting either one of these wild cards could make this an A+ draft for Snow and the scouting folks.
Enjoy the rest of the draft, I will be celebrating my daughter’s 1st birthday tomorrow so I won’t be online, though I will be posting on Twitter throughout the day.
Filed Under: NHL
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: email@example.com Twitter: Twitter.com/tonystabile