What Will the Islanders do at the NHL Draft?

There are a lot of questions surrounding the New York Islanders. First, will any of their unrestricted free agents in Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo or Matt Martin be back? Will general manager Garth Snow be a major player in either the trade or free-agent market? The new ownership group of Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky take over officially July 1. How does that play into the Islanders offseason moves? Another question is what will the Islanders do at the NHL Draft?

Snow’s History

When you look at Snow’s history, you see a GM who has been a wheeler-dealer on draft day. To illustrate this point, the Islanders entered the 2015 NHL Draft with no first round picks. They walked out of the first round last year with two selections. That move added the organization’s current top prospect, Mathew Barzal.

When Snow wants a player at the draft, he is not afraid of trading up to get him. He did that with Anthony Beauvillier (2015), Josh Ho-Sang (2014), Brock Nelson (2010) and Calvin de Haan (2009). Nelson and de Haan are part of the Islanders’ young core and Beauvillier and Ho-Sang are extremely talented NHL prospects.

The Pipeline

The Islanders have a strong prospect pipeline across the board at forward, defense and in goal. Between the pipes, the Isles have Ilya Sorokin, Linus Soderstrom (both 2014 picks), Eamon McAdam and Stephon Williams (both 2013 picks). On the blue line, New York has Mitchell Vande Sompel, Parker Wotherspoon (both 2015 picks), Devon Toews (2014), Adam Pelech (2012) and Scott Mayfield (2011). Up front, in addition to Barzal, Beauvillier and Ho-Sang, the Islanders have the fifth overall pick of the 2014 draft, Michael Dal Colle.

2016 Draft & the Hometown Kid

As you can see, the Islanders have a deep, talented system. The Isles’ problem will be slotting all of these kids into their NHL lineup over the next year or two. The Islanders enter the 2016 NHL Draft with the luxury of not having to focus on a certain position. Snow can simply take the best player on his board.

The Islanders enter this draft with only five selections. They do have the 19th overall pick in the first round but after that, they only have one selection in Rds. 4 and 6 and two in Rd. 7.

With so few picks and only one selection in the first 108, the Islanders could look to trade down a few spots in the first round and pick up either a second or third round pick. As I stated above, Snow has been aggressive in the past in terms of trading up in the draft. However, with New York’s second pick not until the fourth round, he would either have to sacrifice a player on the main roster, one of his current prospects or a top pick in next year’s draft to do so.

So who will the Islanders and Garth Snow be targeting come June 24 in Buffalo when the first round begins? The Islanders will be looking at these seven kids as they will be potentially the best players on the board when they select at 19.

In terms of forwards, Keifer Bellows, Julien Gauthier, Luke Kunin and German Rubstov could be available when the Isles are on the clock. Bellows’ (his father was Brian Bellows) ceiling is one of a sniper. Gauthier’s high end projects as an offensive power forward. Kunin projects as a complete two-way player at center. Rubstov is a skilled center that makes everyone around him better. On defense, Jake Bean and Dante Fabbro, two skilled offensive blueliners who are strong at both ends of the ice, could also be available when the Islanders pick.

There will be some interesting choices for Snow.

But, wait a minute, I said seven selections and I only listed six.

One of the top prospects in this draft is a kid named Charlie McAvoy, who is from Long Beach, Long Island. McAvoy spent this past year playing at Boston University. He is already 6 foot and over 200 pounds. He projects as a two-way defenseman who will be part of a team’s top-four unit for many years to come. He has been projected to go somewhere between 14th and 23rd overall in most mock drafts. If Snow wants to bring the hometown kid to the Islanders’ organization, he will mostly likely have to trade up a few slots.

The first round of the draft for the Islanders has, on most years, been breaking news events. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens again this year with a little hometown flavor to it.