With the 2016 NHL Draft just hours away, TheHockeyWriters.com takes a look at ten of the worst Islanders first round picks of all-time.
10: Alex McKendry: Although Pat Price is considered by many as the Islanders’ first real top pick bust, Price, after his legendary confrontation with Islanders coach Al Arbour, had a few solid seasons with the Oilers and Penguins in a 726-game NHL career. McKendry, on the other hand, was drafted 14th overall by the Isles in the first round of the 1976 draft and scored just three goals (none in the six regular season games he played on the Island) in 46 games in the NHL. He did, however, have four points in six playoff games in the 1980 playoffs, earning his name on the Stanley Cup.
9: Brad Dalgarno: He’s a tough one to put on this list because of injuries and his epic role on the very special 1993 Islanders team, but considering how much production the Isles got from Derek King, who was drafted seven picks later at #13 in the 1985 draft, the beefy and talented forward could never develop into the player he should have been. The fact that Joe Nieuwendyk and Mike Richter were still available at that time only hurts things more.
8: Tom Fitzgerald: Drafted by the Isles with the #17 pick of the first round in the 1986 draft, Fitzgerald went on to play 1,097 games in the NHL with enough teams to make Mike Sillinger proud. However, the penalty killing specialist, known for his two short-handed goals in the 1993 playoffs (on the same shift), never developed into the player they wanted or needed. Left exposed by the Isles in the expansion draft, Fitzgerald went on to be a leader for the Florida Panthers and a steady NHLer for another 13 years.
7: Josh Bailey: Although he’s been a steady player for the Isles for eight years, Bailey has never been the player they thought they were getting when he was drafted ninth overall in the 2008 draft. Add in the fact that Matt Martin and Travis Harmonic were drafted much later than Bailey and went on to have more influential careers with the team and Bailey has yet to live up to his potential. There’s a case to be made that he may never.
6: Dean Chynoweth: The Isles’ first round pick, 13th overall in the 1987 draft was an enforcer that sadly is known by more fans as an assistant coach with the team from 2009-2012. That being said, he did have a few memorable tangos with Rick Tocchet and several other tough guys during his time with the Isles, but was never worthy of the pick, especially when you consider the Isles’ sixth-round pick that year, Rob DiMaio went on to play nearly 800 games in the NHL. After his playing career ended, Chenoweth got into coaching. Recently, he was fired from his last position as the coach of the AHL San Antonio Rampage, who went 33-35-0-8 and missed the playoffs.
5: Kevin Cheveldayoff: A first round pick (16th overall, 1988) that never made it to the NHL, thanks to a knee injury in juniors. Cheveldayoff was a good puck-moving defenseman at the WHL level, with a tough side, racking up 265 penalty minutes and 32 points with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1988. Other notable players the Isles could have drafted that year- Mark Recchi, Dmitri Khristich, Rob Blake and Alexander Mogilny.
4: Duncan MacPherson: The Isles drafted the 6’1 defenseman in 1984 with the 20th overall pick in the draft after a 14 assist season with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. Although he racked up 213 penalty minutes with the Isles AHL-affiliate the Springfield Indians in 1988, he never played a game in the NHL. By 1989, the Islanders bought out his contract and soon after he disappeared while on a ski trip in Austria and was presumed dead. Ironically, this was the same draft the Isles picked up two steady fan favorites in Jeff Norton and David Volek, both a part of the magical 1993 team that dethroned the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Patrick Division Finals. There were also a handful of players the Isles could have chosen that season over DMac that went on to have productive NHL careers, Stephane Richer, Ray Sheppard, Scott Mellanby, Jeff Brown and Brett Hull.
3: Ryan O’Marra and Robert Nilsson: These guys are packaged together because the Islanders used both of them to get Ryan Smyth from the Edmonton Oilers in 2007 for a shot at a deep playoff run. That didn’t happen as Smyth was gone that offseason and both O’Marra and Nilsson were unable to be anything close to worthy of the slot they were drafted.
2: Brett Lindros: The Isles first round pick in 1994, ninth overall, after a 24 goal in 26-game season with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, Lindros played just 51 games in the NHL and scored only two goals and added 147 penalty minutes before concussions forced him to retire. The younger brother of NHL star Eric Lindros, Brett was expected to be the Isles’ new Clark Gillies, sporting the size of a mammoth and a solid shot. It just never happened. Still only 40 today, it’s sad thinking what he “could” have been.
1: Dave Chyzowski: He had the shot of a god, but was lazy and didn’t adapt to the NHL game, although he did show some toughness at times.
The Islanders knew all of this before the draft, but took a gamble on him, drafting him second overall in the 1989 draft, ahead of players the likes of Mike Sillinger, Bobby Holik, Bill Guerin and oh yeah, Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov. Scoring just 15 goals in 126 games, Chyzowski was, at one point in his career, looked at as the next Mike Bossy, but even Iain Fraser, the Isles’ last pick in the 1989 draft, in the 12th round, 233rd overall, has more career goals than him. Sadly, it took him years to become a decent player in the minors as well.
This was a bust for so other many reasons, but mainly because this was a draft where the Isles got Travis Green and Vladimir Malakov, two guys who were beloved by Isles fans and both who went on to have solid careers.
Over the past ten years as a working journalist, Patrick Hickey Jr. has covered the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils, as well as the Brooklyn Aces of the former EPHL, contributing pieces and/or holding Editorial positions at NBC, New York Sports Day, NY Sportscene Magazine and the New York Times. During that time, he has interviewed NHL stars the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Bernie Nicholls, Bob Probert, Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise. He is also the first winner of the New York Islanders Blog of the Year Award, for his work on TheDriveForFive.com in 2008.