Gearing Up For The Draft

If you haven't bought your tickets, now is the time...the Islanders draft party is set for this Friday at the Nassau Coliseum with the 5th overall selection solely in Garth Snow's hands. Yours truly, (as usual every year) will be unable to attend due to work obligations...but here is a brief primer of the scenario's that I think might go down on draft day.

In order...

1) Rick DiPietro is traded to Edmonton for their first overall pick.

HA! No, I'm not that crazy. But it was worth a shot.

Speaking of goalies, I don't see the Isles drafting any this year. If they do, it will probably be with their later picks as they are pretty stocked with Koskinen and Poulin developing nice and fast.

But here we go, in descending order, here are my predictions of what may happen on draft day.

5) They trade the pick for a first-line forward or top-paired defenseman.

Here is why I think that will NOT happen. The 5th overall selection is not enough to land a marquee forward or offensive blue liner; more would have to be given up in the arena of additional picks and high-end prospects. Garth has stood pat since the rebuild begun and plans on keeping his best assets instead of watching them grow into all-stars else where. If you're hoping for another Alexei Yashin type of deal (and if you are, see a doctor), I wouldn't get your hopes up.

4) The Islanders move up from their 5th spot to the 3rd or 4th pick.

It's not the most unlikely situation, but like Scenario #4, the Islanders would have to part ways with someone from their promising youth core. This could range anywhere from Frans Nielsen to Kyle Okposo. Snow won't do it, plain and simple. In addition, the players that Snow would package with his 5th overall pick are probably not considered equivalent to 3rd or 4th overall selections. Heck, the only one that is above that range is John Tavares. Okposo went 7th, Bailey went 9th, Comeau and Nielsen were 2nd and 3rd round picks respectively, and Schremp was a 25th overall selection as well. And all of those guys are on Garth's "won't trade" list. Unless a team has their eye on a player that they want to move down for, do not expect Garth to move up from the 5th pick.

3) They trade the 5th overall pick and move down for a player between the 6-10 range while adding later picks in the process.

A la draft 2008 with Josh Bailey; the Islanders ended up with more picks than they started and drafted a potential 2nd line forward. Josh has been developing nicely and is due for a break out season, especially if placed on the wing like he was this past year which is where he really started to take off. But a hard-hitting, stay-at-home defenseman in Luke Schenn was passed on for Josh. So was Nikita Filitov, who still might become the forward everyone envisioned. Snow and Assistant GM Ryan Jankowski are not shy about getting their man. If they find a player that they see fitting their system, they will make sure they get him. Calvin de Haan is another example. The rule of thumb on draft day is to take the best player available. If the Isles think someone like Nino Niedereitter, Mikael Granlund or Alex Burmistrov, all of which have visited the Island, is the best player to target after all the interviews, tests and scouting reports, Garth will do what he needs to draft him.

2) The Islanders stay with the 5th pick and take either Gudbranson, Fowler or Gormley...or maybe Connolly and don't do anything else.

I am a little iffy with Connolly because the Islanders have enough trouble with injuries, especially hip injuries in Rick DiPietro and Mikko Koskinen. Why take the risk of drafting another player who is supposed to be a top-six forward that has experienced a huge set back like that in his career at such a young age? Personally, I do not think it's worth it considering the other talent that is out there. Keep in mind the Isles have depth at forward as their top-6 are all young skaters. They also have Petrov, Martin and Joenssu waiting for permanent chances with the Isles. After Hillen and MacDonald lie Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic, two defenseman that may one day be the best pairing since Kenny Jonsson and Adrian Aucoin. But then the blue line wears thin. Gudbranson would be that Luke Schenn type of player the Isles skipped over and could use after letting go of Andy Sutton. Fowler (who I doubt will still be there at number five) is an offensive blue liner that will easily be in the top-3 of any team's 6-man unit with Gormley being touted as the steady, safe bet pick. Although this scenario is a little more boring than the rest, it is one of the more likely possibilities.

1) The Islanders stay at the 5th pick but find a way to use their later picks and expendable skaters to move up and get another mid to late first rounder as well.

Garth did it last year after having the first overall pick. He made a series of trades with the 26th overall selection he gained in the deal that sent Comrie and Campoli to Ottawa to move up all the way to 12th and draft Calvin de Haan. The table was set for this move since he had two first round picks. This year he only has one. However, he still has two second round picks, two third round picks, one fourth, one fifth, two sixth, and one 7th. The important selections go as follows: the 5th overall, 35th, 58th, 65th and 82nd. It may be harder for Snow to move up as high as the 10th-15th overall range, but nothing can be ruled out just yet. There were rumors that he was trying to dispose of players such as Sean Bergenheim and Jeff Tambellini at the trade deadline. Both players are still young and have a lot of potential but may need a change of scenery to finally thrive at the NHL level and could help Snow move up in the draft. Not only is this the scenario I can see happening since Snow has displayed a great desire and ability to be mobile at the draft table, but it's also the scenario I hope to see happen. The more high-end prospects, the better.

There you have it. The most likely scenario is what I expect to see on my phone as I get out of work. Of course I could be wrong, but who knows? Do you?

What do you expect to happen on Draft Day?

-Rob McGowan

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