After a bad 2013-14 season the Islanders hold the fifth pick in the draft this June. It will be the third time in the past five years that they are in the five slot and it’s the fifth year in the last six that they’ll be in the top five overall. But… Will they keep the pick? Thanks to the Thomas Vanek trade in October, they owe Buffalo either this year’s or next year’s first round pick. Today, we’ll debate the merits of each option.
Kevin SchultzI’ve honestly had a hard time with this, debating which pick the Islanders should turn over to the Sabres. There’s something to be said for knowing where you’re picking and it’s hard to leave it up to all the different things that could (in this case) go right over the next year. But I think that if I’m Garth Snow, I’m swallowing my pride and my medicine and sending number five to Buffalo this June. Get rid of it, get it over with. You know how Islander County is and the last thing we all need is to stew about this for a year.
The immediate reaction last week after the lottery seemed to be that the Islanders would be showing that they’re “giving up” on next season if they pass up on this year’s pick. It would indicate that they’re expecting to be worse next year than they are this year. I’ve got a couple qualms with that. 1) The Islanders need a goaltender in the worst way. They will not be an improved team next year with the current trio. The team was also healthy for the most part up until the Olympic break. Wouldn’t a big acquisition restore faith even if they gave up the pick? Are we naive enough to believe this team will actually be better this year? 2) It seems pretty clear that the top of next year’s draft is going to be BIG with the grand prize the possible next Crosby, Connor McDavid. My nightmare is the Islanders falling into the bottom third (or worse) of the league and their logo coming up in the lottery causing a franchise altering player such as McDavid to play upstate instead of in Brooklyn. Christian, am I crazy?
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:Completely crazy!
By the time the lottery was on last Tuesday I had long believed that giving up next years pick was the right thing to do if you are the Islanders. Next years draft has sex appeal and some big name players, but YES if you defer this years pick you are saying to everyone in Isles country this team is not getting better and we’ll be in the top-5 again next year.
This Islander team is not that far off from actually being a threat in the playoffs they just need to make some smart off-season moves to facilitate that. And keeping the number five pick this year will help that. Holding onto the pick gives the Isles options to either 1) keep the selection to use it on a player like Willie Nylander, Sam Bennett or Michael Dal Colle. 2) They use the the selection as part of a trade to bring in the NHL defenseman or goaltender the Islanders so desperately need. It’s not that farfetched to think they could pull off a deal like that during the draft or in the day or so leading up to it. Potentially passing up on “the next Sidney Crosby” is tough to think about now, but if the Islanders play their cards right and make moves during the offseason — Like i believe they will do this year — this will be a mute point they will be no where near position to pick McDavid. So I think Snow will make the right call and keep this years draft pick and send next year’s selection to Buffalo.
Kevin SchultzWell, without knowing Garth Snow’s plan for the off-season, it’s hard for me to assume that “this will be the year”. Obviously he’s not going to come out and say what that plan is, but I’m not sure where they go. A No. 5 pick is certainly great and nice for the future, but there’s almost no way that guy plays in the NHL next year. There’s usually only a couple of NHL ready players in a given draft. I would hope they go calling for free agents, but Doug Weight said it himself at the season ticket holder meeting last week, they call big free agents and no one wants to return their calls. So that leaves trades and improvement from within.
As far as trades, that’s a tough thing to accomplish and just the thought of trading a top-five pick gives me heartburn.
I think Griffin Reinhart will be up next year, which is a great addition. Nelson, Strome and Lee look good but waiting on prospects to carry the team is hit and miss. Barring a season altering goaltender coming here — UFAs Miller, Hiller or Halak off the top of my head — I don’t see them being better than the eighth seed they were two years ago. And that’s if there are no injuries and everything goes right. Sure, a #5 pick was probably the worst case scenario this year, but it’s not far fetched that they could end up between 5-10 next year.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:For Garth Snow to believe that his team will end up between 5-10 next year means he has already given up the upcoming year, which he can not do. The Islanders and their management know going into Brooklyn they CAN NOT have another year like they did this. And that means doing everything in their power to improve this roster in the off-season.
Mike Milbury may have ruined the idea of trading draft picks for fans of this team, but that can’t and shouldn’t be held against Snow. If the Islanders get the right deal for an established player and they have to give up the draft pick, then he has to do it.
Like I said earlier, I don’t think this team as far off as some people want to believe and even if they just make it in as an eighth seed, anything can happen in the playoffs. Just look at what is happening this year.
Kevin SchultzI do agree that they can’t have another year like this (well, technically they can but they had better not allow it). There’s going to be a lot of positive momentum going into Brooklyn and on the flip side there will be minimal positive momentum if the team continues to be an also-ran.
This is a great opportunity for the team to, maybe not start over fresh, but create a sort of ‘new beginning’ if you will. It’ll be a chance to put to bed all the problems both on the ice and with the arena/financial situation that have haunted them for the last couple decades. Who knows, maybe there will even be a new owner by then. Hopefully however the draft pick scenario plays out, it will be a scenario that pushes the team forward.