Best-Case Scenarios for the Islanders 2012 First-Round Pick
Once again Nassau Coliseum will open its doors on June 22nd as thousands of Islanders fans file into the arena to watch the Islanders select another blue chip prospect. Another disappointing season has landed the Islanders into familiar territory with the fourth overall pick in this years draft.
The Islanders have an important decision to make, and the following comment rank the worst move to the smartest move that Garth Snow and the Islanders front office can make in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Scenario 5: Trade the Pick
By being in the lottery for the past five years, the Islanders and their fans may have devalued just how great of an opportunity it is to be able to grab a talent within the first five picks of the draft.
The Islanders will most likely be presented with a number of trade scenarios that would allow them to get a quality NHL player or two. As tempting as it is to have some real talent to slot around John Tavares and company, it would be a sin to pass on a potential All-NHL player and talent due to impatience. Names such as P.K. Subban, Luke Schenn, as well as other talented players, have been brought up in trade talks for the pick. If Snow is smart, he holds onto this pick to draft a potential star of the future and rely on free agency to deal out a front loaded contract to attract some quality NHL veterans.
Scenario 4: Draft Filip Forsberg
This pick would understandably be very frustrating for Islanders fans. If Ryan Murray is selected by the Oilers either first overall or through a trade with either the Blue Jackets or Canadiens, then Swedish forward Filip Forsberg will be most likely be the top rated selection.
Forsberg (no relation to Peter) is only 17 years old, and has one or two more years left to play in Sweden before he can come stateside, upon which he will probably need a year or two of further development in the OHL or Bridgeport. This pick would also make the Isles fan base a bit nervous, as the Islanders ability to develop young, talented players has been called into question after the mishandling of both Josh Bailey and Nino Neidereitter's development.
Even though it will take a few years, Filip Forsberg is an incredible talent with the ability to turn into a star. There are worse things the Islanders can do than draft Forsberg. If no favorable trades or other players become available, then the Islanders should draft Forsberg and let him develop properly with patience. The Islanders can be aggressive in free agency by using their incredible amount of cap room in order to improve their team for a 2013 playoff run, while dreaming about the potential of a team with a second line of Neidereitter-Strome-Forsberg a few years down the line.
American Alex Galchenyuk and Russian Mikhail Grigorenko could also fail to the Islanders at no. 4, and present a similar scenario to Forsberg going forward.
Scenario 3: Trade Down
The last time the Islanders traded a lottery pick, they moved down twice from fifth overall to ninth in order to select Josh Bailey. The move was highly questionable at the time as Bailey was considered a reach at ninth overall.
Josh Bailey is perhaps the most frustrating player currently on the Islanders roster. He shows flashes of brilliance, such as what was seen over the last month of this past season, but also goes through brutal stretches of offensive ineptitude.
While the jury is still out on Bailey, Snow's decision to trade down was smart. It netted them the pick that became Travis Hamonic, while if they had stood pat at number five they probably would have selected Nikita Filatov, who is already back in the KHL as a draft bust.
This draft presents the Islanders the perfect chance to trade the fourth pick for the Tampa Bay's 10th and 19th, or Buffalo's 12th and 21st. The 2012 draft has a top flight crop of defensemen, and the 10th/12th picks would allow the Islanders to pick up a big, physical blue-liner such as Griffin Reinhart (6'3, 200), Jacob Trouba (6'1, 195), or Cody Ceci (6'2, 200). There is even a chance Matthew Dumba's smaller stature could enable him to fall to the Islanders. Along with picking up a blue-chip defensemen, the Islanders would have a chance to select a more ready made NHL talent with the 19th/21st pick. In recent years, some big time NHL players have been drafted around 20th overall: Max Pacioretty (2007), Michael Del Zotto, Jordan Eberle (2008), as well as a couple members of the class of 09' in Chris Kreider and Jacob Josefson who are both currently breaking through for the Rangers and Devils receptively.
This second pick could also be used as a trade chip for Snow to acquire a solid NHL veteran without the pressure of trading away a top five pick.
With some savvy moves by GM Garth Snow, trading with the Lightning or Sabres could allow the Islanders to address their needs at defense and also continue to stock their already promising prospect pool.
Scenario 2: Trade Up for Nails
If the Edmonton Oilers are serious about improving their defense by passing on Nail Yakupov to draft Ryan Murray, then they will look to trade the pick to either the Blue Jackets or Canadians, knowing that the Islanders sit at four with a serious eye on Murray.
If Edmonton is set on drafting Ryan Murray, then the Islanders should be aggressive and try to beat out both Columbus and Montreal for the right to select Yakupov first overall. While Islanders fans may be a little hesitant about Russian snipers after the Yashin era left the franchise in shambles, Yakupov seems to be a hard worker and a team-first kind of player.
More importantly, Yakupov is an absolute beast. The guy is a relentless, NHL-ready goal scorer. He is the consensus top talent in this draft, and scouting reports on Nails often note the similarities between the kid and fellow Russians Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin.
I am not sure what the price would be to acquire the first pick from Edmonton, but I cannot imagine that it is too high. The Isles would only be bidding against Columbus and Montreal, and the Islanders prospect pool is far deeper than both those clubs. The fourth overall pick as well as Brock Nelson could potentially get it done.
The Islanders secondary scoring last year was one of the main reasons why they were unable to win consistently. If the Islanders make a move for Yakupov, they could potentially slot him into a Yakupov-Strome-Parenteau second line that would allow him to have immediate success skating with two playmakers whose strengths are both scoring goals and creating them.
Also of note: The idea of a top powerplay line of Moulson-Tavares-Yakupov is worth salivating over.
Scenario 1: Draft Ryan Murray
If the temptation of Nail Yakupov is too much for the Oilers to pass up, there is a great chance that Ryan Murray falls into the Islanders lap at number four. Murray is the highest rated defensive prospect in the draft and is considered by many to be a can't miss quality NHL player. Ryan has good but not great size at 6'0, 200, but it his quality two way game that has scouts projecting him to be the anchor of a teams blue line for the next decade.
Murray has been touted as a great future NHLer since he was barely a teenager, and these high expectations have caused frequent and harsh criticisms of his games. This treatment is similar to what current Islanders star John Tavares went through previous to being drafted first overall. If Murray becomes an Islander, Tavares would be a fantastic role model for Murray to look if he wants to eventually become the type of player Tavares is now.
The Islanders desperately need defensive help in order to be a contender, and scouts say that Murray is the most NHL ready prospect in the draft. This is music to the ears of Islanders fans who are sick of losing while having to be patient to see recent top picks such as Ryan Strome and Nino Niederietter help out the big club. Murray allows the fans to see immediate improvement to the Islanders while also continuing to build this teams bright future.
If there is one thing that all Islanders fans are hoping for on June 22nd, it is that this is the last time the Islanders find themselves with a top five pick for a long time. The dream is that the Islanders can trade in the draft parties for playoff games at the Colliseum (and the future Colliseum.....or Barclays....as long as its not Quebec City).
The Islanders greatest responsibility in this draft is to create the best chance at picking a future successful Islander. To do this, the Islanders should be focused on getting the best possible value with the fourth overall pick. The best way to do this is to draft the best possible player (Nails, Murray, Forsberg), or trade for multiple first rounders and then trust your scouting.
The past five years have been torture for Islanders fans as they have watched their team fade into irrelevance. However, its defining moments like this draft that give the Islanders the opportunity to turn these miserable seasons into players like Tavares capable of recreating some of the greatness of the early 1980's