“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a bigger smile on my face. It was unreal." #Isles #NHLDraft | https://t.co/f344GFmV7X pic.twitter.com/pekTW54IeN
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) June 25, 2016
The New York Islanders decision to cling to their first-round pick isn’t the disaster many are making it out to be.
Despite New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow doing his job at the NHL Draft by actually drafting players, some members of the Isles fanbase have dubiously designated the event as a “failure.”
Sure, the team didn’t acquire any stud wingers for John Tavares or dump the contracts of Josh Bailey or Nikolai Kulemin, but that doesn’t mean it was a snafu.
In fact, the Isles are poised to take the next step because they didn’t move any assets at the draft. The reason is simple: Snow looks for deals that will warrant equal or greater returns. If no such offer is on the table, why trade just for the sake of trading?
Free agency will begin at the start of the next month, and that means signings, trades and mini camp (or the period of time where the casual fan designates every mediocre prospect as the next Wayne Gretzky).
Plus, the competitor the Isles selected with the nineteenth overall selection is a guy named Kieffer Bellows, who’s bloodlines (his father, Brian, hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup and played in nearly 1,200 career games), goal-scoring prowess and hockey IQ are considered über-impressive for a kid his age.
While every draft pick is over-analyzed following the event, it should be noted that Bellows became just the fourth player in United States National Team Development Program history to score 50 goals in a season with the US Under-18 team.
The other triad?
Auston Matthews (the first overall pick in the 2016 draft), Patrick Kane (the league MVP) and Phil Kessel (a Stanley Cup winning forward).
Snow remarked at the draft that, “We are thrilled to add a player of Kieffer’s caliber to our organization. He’s a strong, skilled forward who’s posted impressive goal totals throughout his career.”
The truth of the matter is that this rebuild is a grueling process that seems like it’s never going to end. It’s tough to think that the team may be an impact player away from really chasing glory, but are still building for the future, instead.
While arduous, it’s imperative to trust the process. While there’s no blueprint for building champions, most have followed the same route.
Faith is key in the struggle to believe that the Isles are doing just that.