OK so with the NHL Entry Draft a little over a day away it seems that many think that Garth Snow should flip the 5th overall pick in the draft to add an already proven player. Some friendly advice to the GM and fans would be to just keep the pick and look to make any kind of deal later on. The Islanders it is understandable are wanting to get back to the playoffs but here is the question I would pose to the fans and that is “Which do you want a quick fix for a one series playoff run or how about setting the franchise up for a multiple year run that hopefully leads to a shot at the cup?”
See the biggest problem with many of today’s hockey fans (meaning you guys aren’t alone) is that everyone is so hung up on making the playoffs that they will sell their souls and yours as well. Most times teams shake up what they have spent time and effort in building to make a deal that winds up screwing up the chemistry that they have built among the franchise . Take a look at the teams that have most recently won the Stanley Cup (the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks) as for years they were non-contenders sometimes making the playoffs sometimes not but rarely did they ever get to cup contention until they stayed the course.
The Islanders have amassed a lot of young promising talent so now is the time to allow them to grow up together, to build a chemistry with each other and learn how to win. Yes it is painful at times to watch but to me the Islanders need to stop with this patchwork of trying to throw pieces together and hope that it will work. The New York Rangers tried doing that and they got a franchise low 7 straight years without the playoffs to show for it.
If you want to spend several years in the playoffs then you take that number 5 pick and you use it on Nick Ritchie of the Peterborough Petes (OHL). If you were thinking Michael Dal Colle then ask which do you want? Do you want the guy who plays the point on the power play or the one who parks himself in the crease, is impossible to move and scores goals? The way I see the draft going is whoever picks Dal Colle means the next guy is going to take Ritchie.
Both scored 39 goals this past season, both are solid smart players but the difference is going to come down to about 45 lbs. which is what Ritchie outweighs Dal Colle by. People are a little scared of Ritchie because of a couple of injuries but not me because Ritchie got hurt making plays which says a lot about his character and desire. Ritchie is a wrecking machine on skates along the boards and when you look at the rest of the division’s bigger defensemen then Ritchie becomes their nightmare while creating space for John Tavares.
Ritchie is the perfect mix of speed, skill and strength in a big body that can skate well while winning battles in the corners and along the boards. He also makes sure that nobody thinks about running his teammates while on the ice. Islander fans will love this guy with his solid work ethic and won’t be worrying about him being inconsistent.
As for the rest of the draft, honestly once you get past the first 8 picks in this year’s draft then you might as well put a blindfold on and throw darts as this is not a deep draft unless you want to take a goalie or two. If Snow gets offers for draft picks then he really needs to think about trying to get back a first round pick for next year’s draft as that is the wrong draft not to have a first round pick in.
If I keep the pick at 35 then I am looking at C John Quenneville of Brandon (WHL), LW Brendan Lemieux of Barrie (OHL) (why yes he is the son of Claude), or this young man Joshua Ho-Sang of Winsdor (OHL) who can play C or RW. Ho-Sang if it was me would not make it out of the first round as he is a high energy player but is only 5’11. Ho-Sang also might be making news for voicing an opinion that might not make him popular among Hockey Canada’s people.
57 is where you can take a shot at a project type player and I like LW Justin Kirkland of Kelowna (WHL) who started showing signs of blossoming on a very good Kelowna team. He is 6’3 190lb. power forward who is a bit of a project but one worth taking. Kirkland is a smart young man on the ice who has the basic skills (skating, shooting, passing and hands) while working on becoming a more physical player. The best thing about Kirkland is that he soaks in all the coaching he can get. He might go higher but if he doesn’t worth taking.
The Islanders will have 2 picks each in the 3rd round (65 and 78) and 4th rounds (95 and 108) which opens the door for Garth Snow to do any number of things from moving them to add picks down the road or use them to add ready-made depth to the system or use them on NCAA/High School players. No picks in the 5th round due to a trade so they select at 155 in the 6th round where if Snow has not taken a goalie before then here is the place to roll the dice on one as there will be several good-looking possibilities still available.
The Islanders will end their draft with the 185th pick in the 7th round and don’t discount finding a player here as Tampa found Ondrej Palat with the 208th pick in the 2011 Entry draft. Use the picks wisely and Garth Snow can add to an already promising prospect pool but I really hopes he doesn’t move the 5th pick as I just don’t think it would help the Islander franchise at all looking for a “quick” fix.
Too many NHL GMs have done more damage trying to “speed” up the road to the playoffs and most don’t make the playoffs.