The Islanders traded Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers for the Nos. 16 and 33 picks Friday night and drafted C Mathew Barzal with the 16th pick.
Barzal, 18, has spent the last two seasons with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, registering 12 goals and 45 assists in 44 games last year.
He is a 5-foot-11, 175-pound center whom one scout, via The Hockey News, called “the best prospect in the West.”
“He sees the ice really well,” said another scout. “Has the ability to control the puck down low thanks to his elite skating.”
Barzal still needs to get physically bigger and stronger, but that doesn’t concern talent evaluators.
Reinhart, 21, was the Islanders’ first-round pick (fourth overall) in the 2012 draft.
Reinhart played in just eight games with the Islanders last season and previously spent four full seasons with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
It’s no secret that the Edmonton Oilers have wanted Reinhart for a while. They saw an opportunity to get him, and Islanders’ GM Garth Snow saw a chance to move back into the first round of the draft and grab a player the scouting staff liked. Reinhart will turn into a very good NHL defenseman down the line, but the Islanders have plenty of depth at the position and he was an expendable piece at this point. Ryan Pulock
is further along in his development than Reinhart is, and Pulock can compete for a roster spot this year.
The Islanders used the 16th overall pick to grab a highly touted center, who fell in the draft. This year’s draft was going to be about being able to pick the best player available, not for need, and the Islanders did that by selecting Barzzl. He won’t be ready for the NHL for a few years, but the Islanders forward unit going forward is starting to shape up nicely as Michael Dal Colle inches closer to being NHL ready and Joshua Ho-Sang continues to develop his game. The Brooklyn-bound Islanders appear to have another skilled forward in the prospect pool.
As the NHL Draft begins this weekend, Islanders center John Tavares reflected on his younger days and his draft experience as a former No. 1 pick.
“I had a lot of attention, a lot of hype about me going into the NHL and had a very up-and-down rookie year,” Tavares said on TSN 1050 earlier Friday (June 26, 12:50 p.m.).
“I knew if I wanted to become one of the best players in the league and be where I’m at today, trying to keep elevating my game, I knew I was going to have to make some changes, have a different approach on things, including my skating.”
Tavares, whom the Islanders drafted with the first overall pick in 2009, encouraged top prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, projected to go Nos. 1 and 2 to Edmonton and Buffalo, respectively, to continue to work as hard as possible to thrive.
“It gives them a lot of opportunity to do what they’ve always done their whole lives, and just enjoy the game, love the game and finally live your dream of playing in the NHL,” Tavares said. “Go out and enjoy it, work at it, soak it all in and get better from it.”
Before Tavares led the Islanders to the playoffs, he was seen as the team’s savior after being a perennial cellar dweller. Tavares can draw parallels between himself and McDavid and Eichel.
“There’s always pressure. That’s why you play this game. You want those opportunities,” Tavares said. “When you’re as highly touted as I was or those guys are – especially these two guys, they’re very special players – I think they have that because they want that. That’s why they’re so great at a young age.”
The Islanders will have another new sponsor for their inaugural season in Brooklyn.
Draft Ops, a daily fantasy sports operator, has signed a three-year sponsorship deal with the Barclays Center. The agreement includes sponsorship of the Islanders, which includes “on-and-off ice assets” (Forbes, June 24).
The fantasy sports website will also build an on-site Fantasy Sports Book at Barclays Center. The Fantasy Sports Book will begin being built in September and Draft Ops will launch it in connection with the Islanders season opener in October.
The sponsorship deal does not include the Brooklyn Nets, who have a multi-year partnership in place with FanDuel.
Draft Ops is also in discussions with the Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils for sponsorship deals.
Islanders general manager Garth Snow told TSN’s Darren Dreger he doesn’t plan on trading right wing Kyle Okposo, whose name has been floated in trade rumors in recent days (June 25).
Okposo 27, is entering the final year of a five-year, $14 million deal and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Okposo, the Islanders first-round pick in 2006, had 18 goals and 33 assists in 60 regular-season games last season. He has 120 points in 133 games the past two seasons.
The Islanders don’t pick until the third round (72nd overall) in this weekend’s NHL draft. Snow has said he is interested in acquiring a first- or second-round selection.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole Kyle Okposo saga wasn’t over just yet. Garth Snow is notorious for playing his cards close to the vest and it would be very Snow-like if some sort of deal was struck after all was said and done.
From the start, everyone that the Islanders were going to have to get a great offer for them to actually deal Okposo, who has been a core member of the team since his arrival in the NHL. Right now it would appear that Snow did not get any offers that blew him away enough to consider a deal. If another general manager approaches snow on Friday or Saturday with an “offer he can’t refuse” than the assurance that he will not trade Okposo may go out the window.
The Islanders have released their 2015-16 schedule.
The team will open the season at Barclays Center on October 9, which will be the first part of a home-and-home on back-to-back nights against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
The Islanders have four match ups against the Rangers: December 2 and January 14 at Barclays Center, and March 6 and April 7 at Madison Square Garden.
To view the full schedule, click here.
Some notable takeaways here: Weekday home games will start at 7:00 PM, with weekend night dates having a 7:30 puck drop. Also, if you were a fan of spending Saturday nights at the Coliseum, you’ll be disappointed. There are only four Saturday games, three of which are at night. Get ready to adjust to Sunday hockey, too! The Isles play seven home games on Sundays with varying start times of 2:30, 4:00, 5:00, 6:00, and 7:30. Needless to say, it will be a bit different than the usual Tues-Thurs-Sat Coliseum days.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
There is certainly a different feel to the schedule and start times for the upcoming year. It will take some getting used to for the fans and even the media that cover the team. The positive from all of this is that there are some 7:30 PM start times, although they come on the weekends and not on weekdays, and the games on Wednesday and Sunday open up the possibility that the Islanders could be featured more on the national broadcast schedule.
The Islanders do not pick until the No. 72 selection in this year’s draft, but according to assistant coach and special advisor to the general manager Doug Weight, the team still has its work cut out this year.
Weight joined SportsNet590 in Toronto for a discussion on the team’s expectations going into the draft, which begins Friday night. The Islanders, who were eliminated in the first round of the postseason, need to keep improving, Weight said.
“The fact that we took some steps as an organization prior to this draft just means we have to work harder,” Weight said. “The pressure’s there and we have to continue to get the most of our players and hopefully develop. Obviously we weren’t good enough, so we’ve got to continue to get better.”
Whether it’s the Islanders or another team, Weight suspects some sort of move will happen prior to the draft.
“You never know what happens,” Weight said. “With the salary cap and with the era we’re living in, there’s a lot of talk going on right now, this week, and I suspect you’ll see some activity at the draft prior to that No. 1 pick going off. There’s a lot of teams that need to worry about that salary cap that want to maybe make some changes.
“We’re not taking any days off because we don’t have a first- and second-round pick.”