So I'm sitting back on a lawn chair outside of the cheap motel my friends and I were staying at out in Montauk. Nothing special, just a nice weekend away with everyone on the beach....bonfires, beers, mallows....good times. As a few of us are sitting back with our cold brews, we listen intently to phone calls from home with updates of what's going on at the NHL draft. It wasn't long before our sips turned into gulps.
Anxiously we are all waiting to hear the 2-4 picks, hoping that Filatov will somehow remain available at the number five spot. Stamkos goes first without question, followed by Doughty, Bogosian, and Pietrangelo. We are all on the edge of our seats realizing the Isles have a chance to single handedly get a hold of greatness...but at the same time we knew we could easily let it slip through our fingers. And that we did. The grimace on my friends' face when he heard that the fifth round pick was traded to Toronto for a 2nd and a 3rd rounder said it all. We blew it. Toronto picks Luke Schenn - suddenly there's hope. Columbus has to choose someone else and we can look like geniuses!
With the sixth overall selection, Filatov takes center stage and dresses in that Red White and Blue Columbus jersey. The possibility of having our own superior, Russian phenom has gone out the door...but there is still hope. There had been talks of the Isles being very interested in Colin Wilson...perhaps that is this Isles plan after all.
---But then! The Isles will not only trade their pick once...but TWICE! And suddenly we are sitting in the 9th spot of the first round. Top five to top ten in a flash.
The misery chug commences.
And with the 9th pick we choose Joshua Bailey. In all fairness to Bailey, he does not seem like a half bad prospect. He actually seems to hold a ton of potential as a high scoring playmaker that can make those around him better. Apparently Nolan has some ties with him as he played with his son last year, (and I heard elsewhere that he also has played with Blake Comeau and Kyle Okposo - don't quote me on that, but I wonder if that played into the Isles thinking if true as well), and the kid also put up 96 points in 67 games played for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.
Honestly, it doesn't sound too bad. And on top of it, the Isles were able to draft 5 prospects that were expected to go in the first round by the time the draft was concluded. The Isles went with their guts and trusted their scouts. However, to go with their guts involved taking risks...and it's very possible like many drafts before us that this day may come back to haunt us.
We may look back and realize that Garth stocked our farm team with a handful of players that may aid in the restoration of a franchise - however they won't be able to do it on their own. This team is still lacking that star. Okposo may be that player we need...Bailey may be the one to compliment him...but alot remains to be seen.
Sure, Filatov may not be the superstar that almost every scout has him turning out to be...but if he does reach and possibly exceed the expectations that were placed upon him we will hear those "Fire Snow" and "Bring Back Milbury" chants that were echoing throughout the halls of Nassau Coliseum until the day he is forced to resign or actually fired.
I was one of the many that were furious on the evening of June 20th. It put a knot in my stomach that I did not want on a weekend excursion with all of my close friends...but after hearing about the picks that followed...we have no choice but to give this disaster a chance.
Of all the fans, players, owners, and GM's...the one person that I pity the most is Bailey. This kid has a ton of extra pressure unfairly placed upon his shoulders. Sure, he has the pressure of finding a way to make it and succeed in the NHL through the New York Islanders coaching staff and farm team...but now he has to do it knowing that he will signify an entire fan base's disappointment. That with every shift he takes, if he doesn't score the goal that Filatov would have, he will be unfairly blamed because of Garth Snow's actions.
I hope this kid turns out to be the player that he can be. Despite intentionally missing on Filatov, I think this kid has some great upside and that we very possibly may have a star on our hands. His 96 points are only 9 away from Stamkos' 105. This kid deserves our support.
Unfortunately...(and yes, I said unfortunately) the next day we have to focus on is July 1st. Free Agency. Ah nothing sounded sweeter than hearing that Ryan Smyth signed with the Avs, and then reading that the Isles announced the 3-year deal of Jon Sim.
What are we going to hear this time?