Isles Hit A Strome Run At NHL Draft


I posted a blog a few weeks back discussing a few of the eligible draftees in this year's draft that could possibly be available with the fifth overall pick. It was the second time in two years that the Islanders were picking at the fifth spot and rumors were beginning to run rampant of what GM Garth Snow might do; the arena proposal goes up for public referendum on August 1st, making this the first serious desire to push the youth movement forward into becoming a playoff team.

But Snow stuck to his plan of drafting young, talented prospects to keep a solid young core together as the team continues to grow. Niagara Ice Dogs center, Ryan Strome was chosen by the organization, as announced by Minnesota native Kyle Okposo. Strome was the first player that I profiled in my draft blog:

Strome is coming off his second season in the OHL, his first full season with the Niagara Ice Dogs. As a 6'1, 183 pound center, he appeared in 65 games and scored 33 goals, 73 assists and 106 points, a significant improvement after only scoring 27 points in 61 games the previous year that was split between the Ice Dogs and the Barrie Colts. He also proved to be a valuable playoff performer, scoring 12 points in 14 games played this year. His two-way play seems to be strong as well with a +28 rating. The Islanders already have a play-making center in Josh Bailey, but adding another one to the mix couldn't hurt, especially since Bailey has yet to have his breakout season.

Strome's 106 points got him voted Most Improved Player and Best Playmaker in the 2011 OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll as he finished third in OHL scoring. His points-per-game average of 1.63 ranked him first in the OHL as well. Not too shabby for an 18-year old who only scored 27 points the previous year.

He'll likely be participating in the Blue vs. White prospects scrimmage that will be taking place on July 16th at the Coliseum. Here is a YouTube clip of Strome being drafted by the Islanders with a few highlights of his abilities that fans will probably have the pleasure of watching.

In the second round the Islanders took defender Scott Mayfield with the 34th overall pick. The 6'4 and 203 pound USHL defenseman could provide an added physical presence on the blue line down the road as he is set to attend the University of Denver this fall. Keep in mind that the young man is still growing and could get even bigger by the time he starts wearing an NHL jersey. He could be a solid fit with offensive contributors like Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan down the road.

The Islanders also had another second round pick that was acquired in the James Wisniewski deal with the Montreal Canadiens. At 50th overall, the Islanders chose Johan Sundstrom, a 6'2, 200 pound play-making center out of the Swedish Elite League that could potentially fill out a 2nd or 3rd line center role after some work on his overall game.

With their remaining picks, the Islanders chose three more defenseman in Andrei Pedan, Robbie Russo and Brendan Kichton. Johan Persson and Mitchell Theoret were the other forwards that the Islanders selected in this year's draft.

Although Snow did not make any major blockbuster moves, he did make one trade that sent a long time Islander packing. RFA Bruno Gervais, who recently got engaged a few weeks ago, was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for future considerations. With six defenseman under contract and Calvin de Haan, Aaron Ness, and Matt Donovan knocking on the door, there simply was not anymore room for a depth defenseman like Gervais.

And speaking of depth, according to Newsday reporter Katie Strang, Snow has tendered qualifying offers to Blake Comeau, Josh Bailey, Ty Wishart, Micheal Haley, Dylan Reese and Jesse Joensuu. This keeps them as property of the New York Islanders before unrestricted free agency starts next week. Jack Hillen has not been tendered an offer, making it very likely that he will be looking for a new home next season.

As far as summer activity, check back tomorrow as I will have a blog posted as to what some current Islanders have been up to this summer. As a perk for attending the Islanders draft party, after Strome was selected the press were allowed to talk to Travis Hamonic, Kevin Poulin, Matt Martin, Trevor Gillies, John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner and Micheal Haley. Check back to see what some of them had to say about Strome, their off-season and what they have in store before they officially return to the ice.

-Rob McGowan

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