In days of yore, we'd be recovering from some sort of catastrophic calamity whose reverberations would be lasting years, not just days. Or in this case, one Friday evening. In the past, we'd wave goodbye to Luongo, the pick that was Spezza, the hulking brut of Chara, and sit and try convince ourselves that all would be ok. Even though, somewhere within us, we knew better. We were not quite seeped in the degenerate gambler philosophy that Mike Milbury was wont to do. Actually in what Mad Mike was allowed to do with a permissive softie enabling him.
Every draft or new year was a new 'get rich' scheme that skipped steps of good and common sense beside good hockey. Mike and his enabling owner, left us high and dry, hoping that somehow his gut instincts and flying by the seat of his pants would solve everything.
So when Neil Smith came on board, who was focused on character and smarts, he had a lot of work to do. He brought along his favorite sports psychologist and computer program that he uses to help find the type of players the Isles needed. Of course, ownership went passive to aggressive, and Smith was quickly shuffled out. But not before he placed Sillinger, Witt, Poti, and Hilbert.
So, now under Garth Snow, we have had one summer he played gambler, with everyone under the delusion that getting Smyth would actually make us able to get a cup. Yes, those word came from the Isles. It was a very Milburesque statement, because like Mike, it ignored replenishing the system or what it takes to build a winner, not suddenly create one.
So, last summer, we paid for those notions with some sleepers who kept sleeping after Ryan Smyth went to Colorado. Kozlov and Poti went to Washington. And we went backwards. Despite making some good decisions of not signing Jason Blake to anything more than good sense. And bought out perennial disappointment, Alexei Yashin. A man who, along as his agent, wants money yet plays subpar under the pressures and expectations it creates.
So, there was a deep and future star studded draft that the Isles had the 5th pick in. In fact, they had 10 picks coming to Ottawa. And come to Ottawa they did. They came with the coach, the owner, the business guy, assistants galore, VPs, IslesTV, etc. Yet they did not come with their VP of Media Relations. Chris Botta had resigned earlier this summer, and all that was left was a media relations vacuum with gaffes while the rest on the Islanders had addition responsibilities add to the piles of work.
So, as Chris Botta stated bluntly, plainly, and with his usual accuracy, in his own blog . . . how they needed to damper fan expectations since they knew the direction in where they were going. And that direction flew in the face of the buzz they fanned the flames of themselves. But, Chris, old bean, not only did Jaffe tell them they were likely to trade down. I did. Of course, Botta was citing Jaffe as a company man, doing his part.
I wrote previous to the draft (June 19, 2008, 11:31 AM) . . .
Isles seem to have interest in Colin Wilson, as well. (yet little to no interest in Cody Hodgson, interestingly) And must be considering some scenario of moving back to get their mid-1st round targets. A possible trade partner could be Nashville, who has the 9th and 15th spot.
Ok, sure I had no clue they were aiming for Bailey. I only knew they had been talking to Wilson a bit. But I think someone was onto them trading backward for a while, and for a center, no less.
Oh, in fact, I said it even before that (June 18, 2008, 9:17 AM) in my Isles Draft Primer:
Plan C: Trading down
I think this is a real scenario. The Isles have taken quite a look at some above the #5 spot. Boychuk. Wilson. One has to wonder if someone like Toronto, Edmonton, Anaheim or anyone else who has an eye on Filatov is willing to pay a price, giving the Isles a pick further down the line, but with other picks, prospects or players to make it worth their while . . . You can bet they have chatted to see how attached Snow really is to #5. . . . At the 5th spot, they are, for once, in a position of power to grab picks that are not the top 5 but effectively line the prospect coffers for years to come.
Some fans harp that this would be a terrible move. Depends on the deal and the picks. Isles better picks, besides Okposo, has been deeper in the draft. Isles scouts have been working since last trade deadline, so one can guess that they have done their homework and then some. A lot is being said about future and success internally, including the Isles landing some college prospects at the end of last season. My guess is they have something up their sleeve on this draft as well.
So there you go. The Isles draft was predicting by their own Blog Boxer.
But enough on me. Ok, ok, let me just soak it one more time. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
A Professional Opinion
And with that, I defer to someone much smarter than me on drafts, Matt Ebbs of ISS. Anyone who is serious about getting good draft guides or scouting info knows of International Scouting Services (ISS). They come out with a yearly draft guide besides player evaluations, reports, you name it.
So, take it away Matt:
Matt Ebbs, General Manager ISS
I'll comment on the first seven picks.
It is important to note that commenting on a draft at this time is arguably premature.
It will be more important to assess this draft in 3 to 5 years.
Having said that, the New York Islanders added tremendous depth to the organization through shrewd trades on Friday.
First, Garth Snow traded down and picked up Toronto's 3rd round pick in 2008 as well as their second round pick in 2009.
He followed this move by trading down again and getting Nashville's 2nd round pick.
In short, Garth took his 5th pick that would have resulted in Luke Schenn (great player) for Josh Bailey, Aaron Ness and David Toews.
There is no doubt that it is a gamble and time will tell just how shrewd the move turns out to be.
Garth has added some depth, mobility and skill to the back end as well as solid, character players up front.
Our scouts ranked Bailey #10, Ness #29 and Toews #27.
They also picked up Corey Trivino with their 2nd round pick who ISS ranked at #26.
Corey has good vision, passing and playmaking skills.
Toews will add a great scoring touch as well.
They could be a nice duo in the future.
We ranked Hamonic a little lower but he can move the puck and has decent size.
The Islanders selected Petrov 73rd. ISS Ranked Kirill Petrov at #17 overall.
Petrov is a power forward who can create space down low.
If they can sign Petrov and get him over then they may have done extremely well by adding some size and skill up front with their 73rd pick.
It's a bit of a gamble, but one worth taking.
Niemi is also an offensively gifted, puck moving d-man with a great shot.
78 of the ISS top 100 were selected by NHL teams in this draft.
Our scouts, led by Dennis MacInnis, the Director of Scouting at ISS, did a great job this year in identifying the top talent.
Thanks a ton, Matt. Great stuff. And those who follow the drafts should purchase their yearly guide. It was ISS Hockey's draft guide that I passed around to different fans and press when the Isles picked Josh Bailey in the 1st round at the draft party.
So, those who are angry about Schenn or Filatov being passed over, should remember that it should be judged not just by Josh Bailey, but also Aaron Ness and David Toews.
Above all, after years and years of looking to hit homeruns, we actually thought about the farm and the system itself, and how it needed a replenishing withr quality. So, those who cite quantity of picks being over the quality of the first pick, should also be looking at the quality that is now in the system because of it.