Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Islanders Draft Wrap

NHL draft analysis. Not even ESPN does this! I just checked Long Island’s Newsday to see their coverage of the Islanders draft class, and I should have been surprised to see that the only shred of analysis from Islander bear writer Greg Logan was “They’d better be right.” I appreciate his going out on a limb.

Now in Mr. Logan’s defense – what do you say? No one cares about the NHL draft, as such there is no coverage. For the most part, NBA fans get to watch their draft picks play in the NCAA tournament. MLB fans, to a lesser extent, have the College World Series and a strong enough fan base that makes it worth the time of analysts to seek out high school and foreign born players. The most egregious example is, of course, the NFL. A league whose Scouting Combine is televised and its talent pool comes almost exclusively from Division 1 college football which has its own analysts. For the NHL, Mr. Logan would have to literally go to games in Canadian junior leagues, European junior leagues, American colleges, American high schools, and beyond. The NHL truly draws from a global pool of talent.

That said, can we try to get some information? Are these players good fits? Is Garth Snow’s characterization of each player correct? The Islanders clearly had a controversial strategy in the draft – was it correct? For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts:

Obviously, first round pick Josh Bailey will be the most scrutinized. Having passed up the fifth overall pick in a draft that was said to have six real bright stars, anything short of Bailey making an all-star game could make him a failure. Still, there is logic in their decision. For one thing, Snow viewed him as the second best forward on the board and the Islanders must certainly need productive forwards after rounding at the bottom of the league in scoring. If this is true, Bailey is a steal. Also, with the exception of Trent Hunter, Bruno Gervais, and Chris Campoli, the Isles system has not produced many players fit for success in the NHL. When was the last time it produced a scorer? (The jury is still out on Comeau and Okposo). Perhaps the Isles needed to clean house.

I disagree with the Isles’ fans who booed after the Isles traded down for Bailey. The problems faced by this team cannot be alleviated by one 19 year-old center. The Isles needs to start building a strong system that will allow them to trade prospects for a top-tier scorer and have a supporting cast in place for that scorer. A new building will also be crucial for the Isles to attract any superstar to the team, as Ryan Smyth’s quick departure truly showed what players think of Long Island. The goalie is in place, the defense is getting solid, there are only a few pieces left to the puzzle. It will take a steady hand by Garth Snow to make sure the Isles stay on course. He seems to have risen to the challenge in the 2008 draft.

He’d better be right.


Game Misconduct said...

They're still boned. Josh Bailey at 18 is not going to make the big team this year and probably not the next 3 years. As such, the Isles will continue to suck until 2012.

Game Misconduct said...

But good analysis