Just got off the phone with Islanders GM Garth Snow for a quick recap of some of the big issues from draft weekend.
The day after, come clean. Did your hockey operations staff indeed operate independently of the sales and marketing staff? Did you really not tell anyone planning the Draft Party of your intentions with the pick?
They never knew. I said all along it was going to be a hockey operations decision and we kept it between ourselves and Charles Wang. That was it. I was happy to hear about the incredible turnout at the Draft Party and it seems everyone had a memorable night out. I would hope that everyone understands that my staff acted in the best interests of our team.
What can you say about Tavares that you couldn’t say before?
Now that pick is done, I can really talk about how proud we are that he’s going to be part of our franchise for a long, long time. He’s a great hockey player. Our fans are going to get to know him as a person, and they’re not going to be disappointed. When it was finally official, I was so happy to see him when he came up to the podium. That picture your blog and TSN and the other media have of us smiling ear-to-ear…I really like that image.
I thought you paid too big a price to go from 26 to 16 to 12 to take Calvin de Haan.
It’s never too big a price when you get a player your staff thinks more highly of than anyone else in that slot. Calvin can be a top-pair defenseman.
You actually moved from 16 to 12 at a surprisingly painless price. But the whole equation, all those picks given up to take de Haan at 12, it seemed like too much for a kid hardly anyone saw going before 20.
Not for us it wasn’t. There’s a reason why you have this process. We think a lot of Calvin and you’ll see in time why we liked him so much. He’s going to develop into an outstanding player for us.
The only reason to move up again to 12 would seem to be because you had intel that one of the teams ahead of you was going to pick de Haan.
I couldn’t guarantee you 100% that they would, but our staff thought there was a serious chance we could lose Calvin before 16 to one, maybe two teams. That was good enough for me to act. I was not going to take that chance. Like you said, the price to go from 16 to 12 was minimal. And I got a few picks back later in the day.
You had to know that once you took your two gigantic goalies in rounds 2 and 3, we’d all assume that meant you’re preparing for the post-DiPietro era.
Yep, and I even said that to a few of the guys at our draft table. “Here come the questions about Ricky”! Our reports on Rick remain the same. He’ll start skating in August and be at training camp. The two kids we picked today, one of them may be 21 next month (Mikko Koskinen), but they are still young prospects. They were the best players available on our board. This was not about Rick DiPietro.
In your own twisted way you made the story of the No. 1 pick about a choice between Tavares, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene. Through the media to your fans, where would you like to set the bar for the opening of unrestricted free agency next Wednesday?
Same as I said at the end of our season. I’m committed to staying with our younger players. I expect our team to have many of the same players, and of course now we’ll have John Tavares – which is great news for our franchise and our fans. But I’m not going to hand out contracts to veteran players that will take away icetime from our younger players. It’s not going to happen. We were pretty public in talking about our rebuilding plan last summer. We’re not changing course.
With Tavarestock now over, Comment Guidelines are back on. Give your review of the Islanders’ draft weekend in next thread.