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NY Islanders' 6-1 Loss To Pitt Guarantees Top Two Pick; Dibenedetto Signed

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 5:  Victor Hedman #4 of Team Sweden skates during a play stoppage at the Gold Medal Game of the IIHF World Junior Championships at Scotiabank Place on January 05, 2009 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Team Canada defeated Team Sweden 5-1.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Eddie O'MalleyContributor IApril 9, 2009

The Isles’ 6-1 loss to the Penguins tonight has guaranteed them a top two pick in this year’s NHL draft.  I was only able to catch about half the third period because I was working, so no I’m not doing a game recap here.

Along with the guarantee of a top two pick, the Isles also will go into the draft lottery with the best chance, 48 percent, to receive the first overall pick in the draft.

Either way, the Isles will be picking first or second, and unless something bizarre happens, John Tavares or Victor Hedman will be wearing an Islander jersey on draft day.

This is huge for a franchise that will complete the first year of its rebuilding on Sunday, when the Isles close out the season at home against the Boston Bruins.  

Being able to draft one of these players will help turn this team into a contender again, because both players have the potential to be superstars, and the Isles can anchor their rebound around either of these players.

Tavares would give them the star offensive player they desperately need.  With the emergence of Kyle Okposo, JT and KO could be a deadly combo on the Isles' top line for years.

Hedman is listed as 6'6" defenseman that plays an excellent two-way game.  There are not many defensemen that come around like Hedman very often, and the Isles could anchor their blue line around Hedman and Mark Streit.

Either way, the Isles can’t go wrong here.  The addition of either player to the lineup will be a big step in helping restore the Islanders to a contending team in the NHL. 

I’ll get more in depth in a later blog after the draft order is set about Tavares and Hedman, and who I believe the Isles should draft (if they end up with the first overall pick).

In other news in Islander Country, the Isles have signed 2008 sixth round pick Justin DiBenedetto to an entry-level contract, as reported by Chris Botta on his excellent blog, islanderspointblank.

DiBenedetto, or Dibo as he is nicknamed, will join fellow Sarnia teammate, defenseman Mark Katic, who the Isles signed a few days ago as a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Dibo was third in the OHL in scoring this season, going 45-48-93 in 62 games.  Dibo also had a big year last season, but many scouts said that was because he played on a line with last year's first overall pick, Steve Stamkos. 

Dibo proved these doubters wrong by having another monster year, this time without Stamkos.  Now Dibo will get the chance to further prove himself in Bridgeport next season as a member of the Isles' AHL affiliate, the Sound Tigers.

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