Anticipation Mounts In Islander Country As The NHL Draft Nears

Eddie O'Malley@ed_omalleyContributor IJune 15, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 02:  (L-R) NHL top prospects Evander Kane, Matt Duchene, John Tavares, Victor Hedman and Brayden Schenn watch the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings Team Practices before Game 3 of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Mellon Arena on June 2, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The NHL draft is less than two weeks away (11 days to be exact).  There is plenty of excitement that has been building in Islander Country since they won the draft lotteryand were awarded the first overall pick in next week's NHL entry draft.

Will the Islanders draft John Tavares, the player a majority of the fan base wants? Will they go with the big Swedish Defenceman Victor Hedman? Or will they select Matt Duchene with the first overall pick?

The Islanders could also trade the pick.

Garth Snow has done his best to keep the excitement of what the Islanders will do building as the draft nears, because he has not tipped his hand on who the Isles will pick.

The fan base realizes how critical this draft is to the re-building and future of this team.  According to the Isles' website, over 14,000 people will be attending their draft party that is being held at the Coliseum next week. 

If 14,000 people actually show up (I'm somewhat skeptical because New York is a baseball town first and round two of the Subway Series between the Mets and Yanks begins that night), then it could be a very special night at the Coliseum. 

I say it could be, because if the Isles take Hedman over Tavares or trade down to number three and take Duchene, things could get ugly since so many people want to see Tavares drafted. 

In the end, I believe Islander fans will be rejoicing because I strongly feel that John Tavares will be drafted.

I don't think the Isles are trading the pick, so that should rule out Duchene, even though the Isles could trade back a spot or two and get something else along with Duchene if that is who they really want.

That means it comes down to Hedman or Tavares.  Do the Isles go with the big defenseman who can play 25 minutes a night or with the big time scoring center?

Both should turn out to be solid players in the NHL in the future, and the Isles really couldn't go wrong with either.

I believe the Isles will go with Tavares because he can do so much for this franchise, both on and off the ice. 

Off the ice, he gives the team a player that they can market.  The Isles have been starved for big name talent and have not had a player they could market for a while.  Goalie Rick DiPietro was well on his way to stardom until injuries have caused him to miss significant time over the past two seasons.

Tavares can step in right away and the Isles can market him.  He can help this team sell tickets and he would be a player that people around the league could actually associate with the Islanders.

On the ice, Tavares could give the Isles a deadly scoring combo on the first line with winger Kyle Okposo.  Okposo and Tavares together could be the Isles version of Malkin and Crosby in Pittsburgh, Ovechkin and Semin in Washington, or Kane and Towes in Chicago.

Tavares would also give the Isles the sniper they have lacked since Ziggy Palffy was an Islander.

In the end, no matter who is drafted, that player can only do so much to help this team get better and will not solve all this teams problems immediately.  Tavares, Duchene, or Hedman won't turn this team into a playoff team next season, but any of the three can be a huge piece to the puzzle of finally turning this team into a contender again.


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