Please make sure to check the end of this post for the Question of the Day.
UPDATED at 8:30 am – The great Gare Joyce wrote this piece on Duchene for espn.com and touches on Tavares vs. Duchene.
In this corner, I continue to believe the Islanders will draft John Tavares first overall next Friday. This has now gone so far beyond the merits of whether I think Tavares is best for the Islanders, you think Victor Hedman is the easy choice or whether she believes Matt Duchene is the right player for the NYI.
No, with each day it becomes even more illogical that the Islanders would keep a running tab of free tickets requested by their fans – 17,000 and still counting – for a Draft Party they are well aware is a big hit because 90% of attendees want to be there for the coronation of Tavares.
(Bob Nystrom was one of my favorite players. For the last 22 years he has been one of my favorite people. Respectfully, if someone in New York doesn’t have Ny’s autograph by now, they don’t desire it).
Ask anyone around the organization and they’ll privately concede that the Draft Party is a phenomenon not because of another locker room tour, not because of the presence of a few former and current players, but because of John Tavares.
This is now at the point where the pick kinda has to be Tavares.
While many experts have Hedman as the No. 1 pick for the Islanders, we have moved Matt Duchene ahead of him at No. 2 and 25% in our fancy-dopey probability chart. The reasons:
- Billy (The NYI Could Trade Down in 08) Jaffe played golf with Garth Snow, then told Point Blank he feels the Islanders are taking one of the two forwards first overall.
- Pat Brisson, the agent for Tavares and Duchene, told PB that one of his guys will be picked by the Islanders. Most fans wrote off Brisson’s quote, saying that’s what an agent is going to say about his players and Brisson may have just been building up Duchene. That’s fair, but I have to point out that I was stunned Brisson said it because it goes against his usual low-key approach. He’s also friendly with Snow and might actually have an inkling of which player the Islanders are favoriting.
- Then there are the comments that have been uttered more and more frequently by those “around the game” as we get closer to draft night.
Tavares will get you 40 goals. Duchene will get you a Stanley Cup.
Have you seen how much Duchene has filled out? He’s going to be a horse.
(Puhleaze…Gretzky didn’t fill out til he was in his mid-40s)
If Duchene was not playing behind that great line with Cody Hodgson and Evgeny Grachev, his stats would have been so much better. Duchene played with a kid (Jason Dale) Bridgeport just signed to an AHL-ECHL deal. If he was going back to Brampton next year, he’d dominate every bit as Tavares has.
- For the last Snojanks Scoreboard I wrote, “If the Islanders could make this pick in a bubble, they might lean toward Duchene.” That feeling has only increased over the last week.
And besides, consider very recent history: the Islanders hired Scott Gordon over several experienced, successful head coaches…in a bubble. They passed over Luke Schenn, Nikita Filatov, Colin Wilson, Cody Hodgson and Mikkel Boedker to move back, add picks and take Josh Bailey…in a bubble. They have managed the dissemination of information on the health of their franchise goaltender…in a bubble.
The Islanders will make this pick, as it should be, by deciding who’s the best hockey player available without the intrusion of public opinion. Since Christmas, this site has included Matt Duchene in the top 3. There is no doubt in my mind he has been in the Islanders top 3 since at least March. Is he in the top 1? Don’t rule it out, don’t shoot the messenger.
Welcome to the third of four updates of the Snojanks Scoreboard. If you’re just joining us, SNo Thjanks is named after general manager Garth Snow and assistant GM/director of scouting Ryan Jankowski.
Featured every week until the draft, Snojanks reflects the view of Point Blank on the probability of the Islanders’ potential moves with the first pick overall. Here’s our first chart from June 2. Here’s our update from last week. We’ll have one more before next Friday’s first round.
THE SNOJANKS SCOREBOARD
June 19, 2009
51% - The Islanders select John Tavares with the first overall pick
25% – The Islanders select Matt Duchene with the first overall pick
15% - They select Victor Hedman with the first overall pick
5% – They draft two out of Tavares, Hedman and Duchene by making a trade that does not include Kyle Okposo or the Islanders’ first round pick in 2010. Knowing how much they love these three players, I can no longer rule out the Islanders moving their first round pick in 2010. For the umpteenth time, I strongly urge against it. But they could do it.
4% - The Islanders trade down to 2 or 3 and select Duchene or Hedman. What could they possibly get, especially when every team knows they like everyone in the top 3? Likely not much.
***Question of the Day: If the Islanders draft Matt Duchene over John Tavares and Victor Hedman – and you had some time to digest it, watch him at the Prospect Camp, read all the press clips – what will your reaction be? Post your answer in Comments.