Before I get started with what to and not to expect this evening on Draft Day, I feel there are a few hot topics that should be addressed (and I know I'm a little late on these).
First off....Alexei Yashin. It's been causing massive hysteria on our island to think that our so-called youth movement may be quarterbacked on the frail shoulders of our former captain that we PAID to get rid of to only return and collect a second pay check for returning to the land he once called home. Yeah I know it's absolutely ridiculous. Not only does it not make sense to bring back a guy that you banished from the Isles logo in order to increase attendance and a fan base, but why would you pay him TWO PAY CHECKS?! The fact that Snow hasn't had much to say on the subject allows speculation that this is Gandler tooting his horn and letting the audience know that they've spoken. The media ran wild with it, but Snow's few words may also indicate that he is seriously considering it as a possibility and just doesn't want to hear the fans or the media's collective outcry of "WHY?!" just yet.
Now that we're unsettled, let's talk about these Sean Avery rumors.
I've heard Rangers fans saying that Avery will be in an Islanders uniform before last season even ended. Now that free agency is just weeks away I'm hearing those rumors constantly. Personally, I think it would be a huge mistake. It's been proven that the Rangers were a much better team when he was dressed as opposed to when he was hurt. There was no question. But we should keep in mind that if he signed with us, he would be entering a locker room with 19 other "teammates" that absolutely despise him. Yeah, he's the most hated player in the league, but I don't think I need to explain that the Isles and Rags have a long & heated rivalry that Avery has fueled over the past year and a half. You think Witt will drop the gloves to back up Avery? Or DP? Or Sutton? Not at all.
We thought Yashin was a distraction? Avery would be worse.
But now most importantly, it is June 20th. The Isles have the fifth pick. Most likely, if the Isles retain this pick, they will be looking at Pietrangelo, Schenn, or even Filatov. I would LOVE to grab Filatov with the fifth pick, but it's a bit of a gamble. There is an abundance of top-tier defenseman that typically don't come around often, but a first line forward like Filatov could have the potential in years to turn around a struggling franchise like the Isles, Kings, or Thrashers.
Apparently the Leafs have been knocking on Garth Snow's door about a deal that would send us McCabe and their 7th overall for our 5th overall and another player. Depending on who that other player is, I think this is a no-brainer. The Isles desperately need a PP QB, and with not much being available via free agency I believe Snow should jump on this. Send them Tambellini or Walter or maybe even Gervais. These are three young players who haven't shown that much improvement over the last year or so and may be expendable. If we could get rid of Hilbert instead then hey, why not?! But I don't think we'll see that happen.
If the Isles do move down to the 7th pick they would be better situated to take Colin Wilson, a forward predicted to turn out like Ron Francis. I wouldn't mind having a Ron Francis-type player centering our Jarome Iginla-prototype in Kyle Okposo. Seems like this could be a beneficial drop, but I wouldn't go any lower unless we got a serious impact forward that could score significant amounts of goals.
The fact that Snow hasn't said much lately makes me nervous. Sure, he's said were committed to a youth movement..but then what's all this talk about Yashin and Avery? Obviously not every player on the roster has to be in his early 20's, but half the roster is comprised of seasoned veterans...Snow seems to be entertaining all possible changes. With the fifth pick he has that leverage. If a good deal turns his way in that he can drop a few spaces while remaining in the top-10 and land a top d-man or forward, then hats off to ya Garth. If nothing works out, he takes the best player available in Filatov, Pietrangelo, or Schenn. To me it's win-win.
...But we've seen how easily things can go wrong in Islander Country...I'll have my fingers crossed all day just like the rest of you.