After notching the 15th pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow will have a decision to make on draft night.For the second time in four years, the Islanders will select fifteenth overall in the NHL Draft.
In what turned out to be a surprisingly eventful lottery, the Devils vaulted four teams — including the notoriously anemic Colorado Avalanche — for the first pick in the event.
The Isles, who entered the lottery with a 97 percent chance of landing the fifteenth pick, did just that. After the first three picks were determined by a drawing of ping pong balls, the remaining teams were sorted by final regular season standings, which adversely affected the Brooklyn franchise.
As my colleague Matt Di Giacomo reported, the Isles were the second-most winningest team in league history to not make the playoffs. While on paper they weren’t too far away from getting over that hump, it’ll still be a long offseason as the front office attempts to figure out what went wrong.
One of the defining moments of any offseason is the draft: for most teams, it’s a time to stockpile talent for the future. But as the Islanders’ fanbase becomes increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress at the NHL level (New York’s notched one series win in the last twenty-plus seasons), it’s possible that Garth Snow will trade the pick.
Or… he’ll more likely keep the pick.
With Anthony Beauvillier and Joshua Ho-Sang graduating to the NHL (and Mathew Barzal about to follow them), the Isles’ depleted farm system could use a little retooling (although, to be fair, Linus Söderstrom and Ilya Sorokin are still on the farm).
For a while now, experts have been mocking Owen (OHL) center Nicholas Suzuki to the Isles. At 5-11, 183 pounds, he’s smaller than scouts would like, but it’s the combination of hockey IQ and skating prowess that has him as high as 17 on ISS Hockey’s list.
Others, like LNH.com’s Guillaume Lepage, believe it will be HV71 (SWE) center Lias Andersson, a gritty two-way forward who is better off the puck than he is with it.
Either way, the Isles would be drafting another (yes, another) natural center, which would add to their current collection of a lot of natural centers (too many to count).
The last time New York was slotted at fifteen, Snow picked Ryan Pulock, a budding defenseman with a rocket (and I mean, rocket) slapshot. Although it will likely be different this time, there should still be valuable players left at fifteen.
The draft is always a rough terrain — especially for members of the media — because there’s so much more to a prospect than just his peripherals. It’s going to be a tough choice, but the Isles will need be ready.
The next twenty years could be hinging on the choice.