QUALITY AND QUANTITY FROM 2008Spurgeon becomes 8th NYI pick to sign NHL deal

Noon: The Minnesota Wild have signed Islanders 2008 sixth-round pick Jared Spurgeon to a three-year Entry Level contract after an impressive training camp audition. Despite a good junior career in Spokane, the smallish defenseman was not signed by the Islanders. This was understandable, as the team’s prospect coffers have become rich over the last three years and the Islanders can only sign so many players.


What’s notable about the Spurgeon signing is its effect on the Islanders’ batting average since the franchise changed its scouting and testing system when Neil Smith and then Garth Snow took over in the summer of 2006. Look at the team’s 2008 draft:


1. Josh Bailey – signed and playing in the NHL

2. Corey Trivino – a maybe, if he can figure it out in his junior year at BU

2. Aaron Ness – probably, although another year at U. Minn wasn’t the best way to go

2. Travis Hamonic – signed and will play in the NHL

3. David Toews – a long shot, but may still get his chance here or elsewhere

3. Jyri Niemi – signed by Rangers to Entry Level contract after traded by NYI

3. Kirill Petrov – will sign with the Islanders in the next two years

4. Matt Donovan – made Team USA at WJC, will sign after more time with Denver

4. David Ullstrom – signed by Islanders, will play someday in the NHL

5. Kevin Poulin – see Ullstrom

5. Matt Martin – see Bailey

6. Jared Spurgeon – signed with Minnesota Wild

6. Justin DiBenedetto – signed by Islanders


That’s a total of eight draft picks signed to NHL contracts, with more to come. Maybe not every kid is a world-beater, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a team that has had a quality-in-volume draft like the Islanders did in 2008. When you’re drafting 18-year-olds, all a team can ask for – especially after the first round – is finding players worth giving a shot to.


In Hamonic, Petrov, Donovan, Ullstrom, Poulin and Martin, the scouting and testing system might have found a heck of a lot more and there is still time for the others. Also nice to see Niemi and Spurgeon earn their opportunities with other clubs.


Each of the Islanders’ last five picks have been signed to NHL deals, with Petrov and Donovan likely to make it seven. That’s unheard of, whatever the end results. As Ziggy Palffy used to say after Mathieu Schneider had a good game, “Holy Schneikies”!


Notes: Not surprisingly, the coaching staff decided to keep the team off the ice today for regular drills after five straight days of skating (and no scrimmages!).


As Scott Gordon mentioned the other day, there will be a special teams scrimmage tonight at the Coliseum. Newsday will have access, so check Katie Strang’s blog for updates, but I have been informed that “bloggers” cannot attend. Freed up, I’m going to close shop the night and head into the city for tonight’s first preview on Broadway of “Lombardi,” about the legendary Packers coach, at the Circle in the Square Theatre.


Reminder: the Islanders will hold an intrasquad scrimmage at the Coliseum on Saturday at 11:00 am. Tickets are $10 and available through the team site and at the box office.


Comments section closed for the night. Matt Martin video below. See you tomorrow.