Where Are They Now? A Look Back At The Islanders' 2009 Draft
2009 was a seminal draft for the New York Islanders. They had the first overall pick, the result of a 26-47-9 season in 2008, worst in the league. The choice? John Tavares.
It wasn't exactly a slam dunk pick. Various experts at the time suggested the Islanders draft current Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman or speedy current Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene.
The Isles went with Tavares and it certainly is looking like the right choice. He is one of the hardest working players in the National Hockey League and he is super competitive. He leads by example and makes those around him better.
But what about the rest of the 2009 draft?
Let's take a look at that draft and see where they are now.
Round 1: First overall, the Islanders selected John Tavares. He is the highest scoring player from the 2009 draft, garnering 227 points in 265 games. At the draft, his skating was a concern, but true to his work ethic, he put in many hours every year making it better and is now one of the better skaters on the New York roster. He can create plays for himself and others. He can finish as well. As good as he has been, he can and will only get better. Currently, he is among the league leaders in goals, points and shots. (Photo credit: flikr/Robert Kowal)
Round 1: The Isles had another first round selection, this one the result of a trade with Minnesota. The pick was Calvin De Haan. De Haan, selected 12th overall, has struggled with some shoulder injuries, but he brings a lot of talent and speed to the blue line. He has played last season and this season for New York affiliate Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. Despite the shoulder issues, the Islanders still hold this young man in high regard and will give him every opportunity to make the Isles next season, supposing he is healed. You can read more about him from a previous prospect report here.
Round 2: With the first selection of the second round, the Isles took Finnish netminder Mikko Koskinen. The towering goalie spent a couple of seasons in Bridgeport, but has played this season for Kalpa Kuopio of the SM-Liiga. It was a good move for Koskinen as he was part of a numbers game with the Sound Tigers with fellow prospects Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson (mentioned later). Koskinen, as detailed in this prospect report, uses his size and smarts to keep pucks out of the net. His numbers in Finland are very good, placing him among the league leaders. The move back to Europe creates room for doubt about his Isles future.
Round 3: In the third round, New York doubled down in net by selecting Swedish goaltender Anders Nilsson. Almost as tall as fellow 2009 draft alum and Euro-goalie Koskinen, he combines good athleticism with strong technical skills to protect his net. He has played the last couple of seasons in Bridgeport and is probably the goalie prospect with the highest ceiling in the entire Islanders organization. Nilsson is currently battling an unknown ailment that has significantly impacted his playtime in Bridgeport. While team physicians still try to diagnose his illness, the Isles remain hopeful that he will recover and continue his development towards being a number one NHL netminder.
Round 4: The first guy off the board in the fourth round was Casey Cizikas. The centerman out of Toronto, Ontario is currently with the big club in New York. Cizikas played last season in Bridgeport and was very close to a point a game player. With the Isles, the young man is centering the fourth line and has gelled nicely with rugged winger Matt Martin and journeyman Colin McDonald to create a high energy line that is able to hold its own on the ice. Cizikas has good vision and strong skills. He isn't afraid of contact either. He still has room to develop and may contend for top six minutes in the future.
Round 5: In the fifth round, the Isles selected defenseman Anton Klementyev from Russia. The physical defenseman is more of a stay at home type who cares more for his own end than for offense. He is a good skater that knows how to check. What he needs, or needed, was development along with experience in the North America style of hockey. The Isles, in an attempt to get him more playing time, sent the young man down to the East Coast Hockey League. He refused to report and as a result New York released him. He is currently back in Russia playing hockey and most likely his NHL future is over.
Round 6: With their last selection in 2009, the Islanders took forward Anders Lee, who hails from Edina, Minnesota. John Tavares is the best player from this draft, but it's possible that Lee will contend for biggest steal. The Notre Dame player has played near a point a game for his college career and projects out as possibly a second line center. He has offensive and defensive skills and his best bet to make the Islanders might be a switch back to wing, where the team's prospect pool is a bit more shallow. Lee is a bit of a wild card though. If the Isles do not sign him by June, he is eligible to declare himself a free agent and would then be allowed to sign with any team. It remains to be seen what will happen in that regard, but it would be in New York's best interest to retain his rights. (Photo credit: islanders.nhl.com)
It's clearly evident that this is a great draft for New York. Every player save one, a fifth rounder, has potential not only to play in New York, but to make an impact. Also, it gives the team more chips, and more possibilities, on the trade market in the next few seasons. Strong drafting like this is what leads hockeysfuture.com to rate the Islanders as having the sixth best pool of prospects in the NHL.
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