New York Islanders GM Garth Snow has done a job similar to that of Royals GM Dayton Moore, who led his team to the World Series this year.
By Justin Weiss
“To build a championship team.”
That is the phrase, in a striking, eye-catching font, that rests in New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow’s brain every single day of the year. It is a daunting task. One hundred and twenty two teams embark on a mission to climb to the pinnacle of their respective professional league’s before each and every season begins.
The Kansas City Royals accomplished that feat on Sunday night, defeating the New York Mets in Game 5 of the Fall Classic to win their first World Series in 30 years. Can a parallel be drawn to Garth Snow’s Isles?
Just a few seasons ago, Dayton Moore was hired as Kansas City Royals General Manager. He wrote in his book, “More Than a Season: Building a Championship Culture,” about his first day on the job:
“The press conference was scheduled for 1 p.m. at Kauffman Stadium. Shortly before it started, I did an interview with ESPN. The interview itself went fine, but after we finished, the cameraman said off the cuff: ‘Well, congratulations, you’re the GM of a minor-league team that has to play in the major leagues. How do you feel?'”
Nine years later, his team hoisted baseball’s most important trophy.
Could Garth Snow follow in his footsteps?
He is certainly utilizing a plausible recipe for success.
“No. 1, you’ve got to make sure that your farm system stays strong,” Moore told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post following the World Series. “You have to continually make the transition with two or three impact players, every single year. That means a position player, a starter and a bullpen piece.”
Snow has done that with this Islanders team. He has made something out of nothing in two straight drafts, selecting Michael Dal Colle with his only pre-draft first round pick, and then trading to select the brash, talented Joshua Ho-Sang in 2014, and Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier in 2015.
“It’s a huge challenge, but you have to be able to do it, because a middle-tier team is not going to consistently win the war for top-tier free agents. Even getting midtier free agents is a challenge, so you need a strong farm system for flexibility.”
The Isles’ GM has built a farm system consistently ranked in the top 10 in the league. This has included stud youngsters such as Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, John Tavares, Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan, all of whom have settled into prominent roles with the team.
In fact, besides for forwards Nikolay Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Cal Clutterbuck, defensemen Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk and Thomas Hickey, and goalies Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss, every player on New York was drafted by the team.
“If you focus on what you are giving up, you are oftentimes fearful of making a deal. You end up being paralyzed,” he said. “You have to focus on what you are getting in return and keep moving forward.”
The Isles have done that under Snow’s regime as well. He shipped top prospect Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers for two top picks in last year’s draft, which he used to select Barzal and Beauvillier, two of their best performing forwards in the minors.
For the first time in more than a decade, expectations are sky-high on the Island. It’s for good reason, considering the job Snow has done rebuilding the Islanders. There is promise not only in the pipeline, but in the big leagues as well.
If Jack Capuano coaches at an NHL level and the players respond to any adversity thrown at them, the Isles could contend for years to come.[su_button url=”https://elitesportsny.com/2015/11/03/new-york-mets-5-way-early-offseason-predictions/” target=”blank” background=”#000080″ size=”10″ wide=”yes” radius=”0″]NEXT: 5 Mets Way Too Early Offseason Predictions[/su_button]