Sunday afternoon’s proceedings at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey might not have gone as many hockey fans and analysts planned, but there certainly weren’t many dull moments. Teams such as the New Jersey Devils made an early trade and shocked some of the crowd at the Prudential Center, but in the end, Lou Lamoriello and the Devils’ upper management answered the question of what the team would do once Martin Brodeur retired.
Part of the day’s other surprises included Seth Jones falling out of the top three selections and the Red Wings trading down to draft at 20th overall, but the New York Islanders certainly did not keep quiet during the draft’s early stages. While Garth Snow and the Islanders stayed put by holding on to their first round selection, the team also made a little bit of noise by trading away Nino Niederreiter before making their first pick of the early afternoon. Even though the Islanders didn’t make a big splash for a goalie or a defenseman that many thought they would, the team ultimately upgraded their immediate 2013-2014 roster as well as their pipeline.
The Nino Niederreiter Saga Concludes
Before the Islanders had a chance to make the 2013 NHL Entry Draft’s fifteenth overall selection, they addressed their issues with Nino Niederreiter by trading away the forward to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for right winger, Cal Clutterbuck. While fan reaction to the trade was mixed, it became apparent that the rift between New York and Niederreiter was significant enough to warrant the forward’s trade.
After scoring at a torrid pace during the first half of the AHL season in Bridgeport, Niederreiter did not make the Islanders’ opening night roster, and he certainly made his feelings known when reports leaked that the forward had asked his agent to seek a trade. Despite the fact that Niederreiter was disgruntled, Garth Snow chose to hang on to the prospect until the end of the 2012-2013 hockey season and got a fairly decent return in the form of Cal Clutterbuck and a 2013 NHL Draft third-round pick.
Katie Strang had this to tweet after the first round proceedings came to a close in New Jersey:
#Isles GM Garth Snow on Cal Clutterbuck: “We got a good young player that’s established in the NHL with an element of grit.”
— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) June 30, 2013
At this point in time, Cal Clutterbuck is the perfect player for the New York Islanders. Much like Matt Martin, Clutterbuck will be a player that will bring a physical and hard working aspect to the Isles. Not only will Clutterbuck bring the type of grit and work ethic that Garth Snow and the Islanders look for, he will come with a knowledge of what it is like to play on the same team as John Tavares. Tavares and Clutterbuck were linemates for the Oshawa Generals, and while the players probably won’t be paired on the same line in New York, there will definitely be a familiarity in place that will help the Isles’ newest acquisition adjust to a different locker-room.
Many fans were probably wondering why the Islanders didn’t fetch a greater return for Niederreiter, but the simple truth of the matter is that the forward’s stock dropped after asking for a trade and then following up his demands with a sub-par finish to the ’12-’13 AHL season. Clutterbuck’s presence will absolutely benefit the Islanders and will round out their depth at the forward position. While Islanders fans probably weren’t expecting to receive Cal Clutterbuck for Nino Niederreiter, the trade ultimately makes sense for New York – especially identity-wise.
The Draft Picks
Ryan Pulock (1st Round, 15th Overall, WHL – Brandon Wheat Kings)
Hockey fans probably weren’t expecting the Islanders to select another defenseman (myself included) with the fifteenth overall pick after selecting seven straight defensemen at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Despite the fact that Pulock’s selection was New York’s eighth straight defensive selection dating back to last year’s draft, the potential size and strength of New York’s blueline is looking quite formidable. At 6’1″, Pulock might not be the tallest defender, but his 211 pounds certainly make up for any perceived height disadvantage that he might have.
While Pulock might be known for his booming slapshot, the Islanders will be a receiving a player that can lead, skate, and defend. Pulock was the captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings this season and his production was undoubtedly affected as the Wheat Kings dropped to last place in their WHL division. Pulock’s offensive production might have slipped a bit during the ’12-’13 WHL season, but the defenseman fits perfectly in the Isles’ system. Of course, it will take several years before the Islanders know how exactly Pulock fits in with New York, but Garth Snow certainly made a selection that will bolster the organization’s defensive depth and prospect pipeline.
Eamon McAdam (3rd Round, 70th Overall, NCAA – Penn State University)
Eamon McAdam helped Cal Petersen backstop the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL during the ’12-’13 hockey season, and the goalie’s efforts certainly paid off. After sitting down for a Q & A with McAdam, it became more and more apparent that the goalie was mature well beyond his eighteen years of age. Not only did McAdam display a solid mentality while splitting duties for the Black Hawks, he provided unconditional support for his teammate Cal Petersen.
McAdam will play his ’13-’14 hockey season with Penn State University and will be facing a new tier of shooters that will undoubtedly help him improve his game in the long run. While the Islanders signed Parker Milner earlier in the day, the selection of McAdam bolsters New York’s depth at the goalie position. Over the next few years, McAdam will likely develop at the collegiate level, but Islanders fans should keep a very close eye on the franchise’s second selection in the 2013 NHL Draft as he could very well develop into a solid goalie in the next several years.
Taylor Cammarata (3rd Round, 76th Overall, USHL – Waterloo Black Hawks)
With the Islanders’ third pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, the team went right back to the Waterloo Black Hawks and selected Taylor Cammarata. Cammarata was the Isles’ first forward selection in this year’s draft, and he certainly can develop further over the next few years while playing hockey at the University of Minnesota.
Cammarata’s height disadvantage has been well documented, but if the forward can improve upon his two-way play then he could definitely be useful at the NHL level. The young center’s game is predicated on speed and was definitely a big part of Cammarata’s 93 point campaign (38 Goals, 55 Assists), but he will have to be more responsible in his own end if he has hopes of making it to the NHL one day. Many hockey fans might not have believed that someone like David Desharnais could make it to the NHL and have success as a diminutive center in Montreal, and Taylor Cammarata is no different as he is another undersized center that could have an impact at the NHL level if he fine tunes certain aspects of his game.
Stephon Williams (4th Round, 106th Overall, NCAA – Minnesota State University)
With their fourth round selection, the New York Islanders used their pick on another goalie. While Williams won a number of accolades as a member of the Minnesota State University (Mankato) hockey program, he was also the third straight New York selection that had ties to Waterloo Black Hawks hockey.
Williams showed progress as a member of the Sioux Falls Stampede and Waterloo Black Hawks, and he showed enough promise during this most recent hockey season to convince Garth Snow to take a chance on him. While Williams seems to be rounding into form, he will join a crop of future Islanders goalie-hopefuls (Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson, Parker Milner, Eamon McAdam) – something that may very well be a daunting task to a goalie prospect in the Isles’ system.
Victor Crus Rydberg (5th Round, 136th Overall, SuperElit – Linkoping J20)
Move over number 80! There’s another Victor Crus in town!
Well, maybe not. Crus Rydberg was the second pivot that the Islanders selected in this year’s draft and is viewed as a very skilled play-making center. The centerman’s hockey IQ and passing ability have been lauded by scouts, but the forward will also have to tighten up certain aspects of his offensive game.
While Crus Rydberg has shown steady progression as a member of Linkoping’s J18 and J20 teams, he has also performed well in a variety of international tournament as a member of Team Sweden’s U16, U17, and U18 teams. Crus Rydberg will probably be a long term project for the Islanders, but fans should get a better idea of what the prospect can bring to the table once he gets more consistent playing time in the SHL.
Alan Quine (6th Round, 166th Overall, OHL – Belleville Bulls)
Much like Stephon Williams, Quine was another twenty year old that Garth Snow chose in the later stages of the 2013 NHL Draft. Playing in the OHL since the 2009 hockey season, Quine has shown lots of progression over the last few years. Quine registered 70 points (30 Goals, 40 Assists) during his 2011-2012 OHL campaign, and followed up his brilliant ’11-’12 season by scoring 67 points (23 Goals, 44 Assists) in 54 games as a member of the Peterborough Petes and Belleville Bulls. Even though Quine might be a bit of a gamble, the dual-position forward (C/LW) has shown enough promise to warrant a pick and will come with very minimal risk attached.
Kyle Burroughs (7th Round, 196th Overall, WHL – Regina Pats)
The New York Islanders used their last selection of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft to choose a defenseman from the Regina Pats. Burroughs is an undersized defender as he stands at 5’11 and weighs in at 182 pounds, but he stepped up for a team whose defensive units were crippled throughout the ’12-’13 WHL season. Burroughs might be a long shot to make the Islanders in the near future, but nobody can say that the d-man hasn’t made the most of his opportunities in the WHL. Burroughs will join an Islanders prospect system that has been heavily stocked over the last two NHL drafts, but the seventh rounder sure has impressed in a pressure-packed atmosphere.
What Is Left?
With the 2013 NHL Entry Draft concluded, hockey fans will have the whole summer to dissect their team’s draft picks. However, one final hurdle must be completed, and that obstacle is none other than NHL Free Agency.
For the New York Islanders, adding a forward, defenseman, or goalie during free agency might be on the list of priorities, but GM Garth Snow is usually very guarded about who and how he will approach matters such as free agency. Players such as Brad Boyes are unlikely to be resigned by New York, so the team might have to look from within the organization to replace Boyes’ production or to the pool of free agent forwards.
There will undoubtedly be a number of free agents that the Islanders could pursue, but Islanders fans shouldn’t expect Garth Snow and Charles Wang to splurge or overspend on one specific player that is available. While free agency can be just as unpredictable as the NHL Draft, Islanders fans certainly have something to look forward to as the newest crop of NHL players begin to seek new contracts to sign and teams to play for.