Though their first round pick, Petteri Nokelainen, played only 15 games for the franchise before being traded, the New York Islanders grabbed two players who have helped the organization. Blake Comeau has blossomed into the Isles everyday line-up while seventh-rounder Chris Campoli played 3-1/2 years on Long Island before being shipped to Ottawa which netted New York a first round draft pick in 2009.
Fresh off a Memorial Cup win with the Kelowna Rockets, Comeau landed with the Isles in the middle of the second round with the 47th overall selection. He stayed with the Rockets until 2006, making his professional debut with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Isles AHL affiliate) in their opening round series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Comeau suited up for the Sound Tigers full-time in 2007 playing in 61 games where he recorded 43 points. He played three games in the NHL that season making his debut on Dec. 7, 2006 in a home loss to the Montreal Canadiens, 4-2.
Comeau started 2007-08 in Bridgeport but found his way into the Islanders’ line-up as a regular recording 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 51 games. The franchise decided to send Comeau back to Bridgeport for the start of the season in 2008-09 but after producing a point per game in 19 games for the Sound Tigers, Comeau once again worked his way up to Long Island. He set career highs in points (25) and assists (18) before a broken wrist ended his season prematurely.
Comeau recently signed a two-year deal to play for the Islanders on Aug. 3, 2009. He has emerged as a regular on Long Island and is part of the central core to developing a winner for years to come.
After being named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2005 after recording 49 points in 79 games for Bridgeport, Campoli started the 2005-06 season with the Isles scoring a goal in his first NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres. He led all New York defenseman in goals (9), assists (25) and points (34) during his rookie campaign.
A groin injury led to a demotion to the Sound Tigers at the beginning of the 2006-07 season. After 15 games in Bridgeport, Campoli was called up to the Islanders after Alexei Zhitnik was traded to Philadelphia. The native of Mississauga, Ontario, produced 14 points, including 13 assists in 51 games en route to a playoff berth. The seventh round pick (227th overall) scored a goal and recorded an assist against Buffalo in a five-game series loss.
Campoli was signed to a three-year extension before the 2007-08 season started. After competing in 46 games for the Islanders, picking up four goals and 14 assists along the way, Campoli’s season was cut short due to shoulder surgery.
Reports surfaced during last season that Campoli was unhappy on Long Island. Feeling that his role was marginalized when the team signed Mark Streit, he was traded with Mike Comrie to the Ottawa Senators for veteran forward Dean McAmmond and a first-round draft pick originally owned by the San Jose Sharks. The Isles traded up to the 12th slot to select defenseman Calvin de Haan from the Oshawa Generals.
Campoli produced 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) for the surging Senators in 25 games. He finished his career on Long Island with 83 points (20 goals, 63 assists) in 228 games.
Nokelainen’s Islanders’ career was short-lived. He played 15 games during the 2005-06 season before a chronic knee injury ended his season. His only two points wearing the blue and orange came on Oct. 13, 2005 when he scored the game-winning goal in Washington and added an assist in a 5-3 victory.
Nokelainen returned in 2006-07 where he played 60 games for Bridgeport picking up 16 points including 10 assists. Just before the 2007-08 season, Nokelainen was traded to Boston for Ben Walter and a conditional second round draft pick in 2008. After 1-1/2 seasons with the Bruins, he was traded to Anaheim for Steve Montador. Nokelainen has produced 21 points (12 goals, nine assists) in 122 games thus far in his NHL career.
The only other draft pick from 2004 to suit up for the Islanders was fifth-rounder (148th overall) Steve Regier. Injuries to regulars in the Islanders’ line-up helped Regier reach the NHL where he debuted on April 2, 2006 in a 4-1 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Regier played the remainder of the season for New York. He appeared in one game in 2006-07 and eight more the following season, never recording a point while a member of the Islanders.
Regier signed as an unrestricted free agent with St. Louis before the 2008-09 season. He set AHL career highs in points (50), goals (22) and assists (28) as a member of the Peoria Rivermen. He played eight games for the Blues last season recording his first NHL points (3 goals, one assist).
In four seasons with the Sound Tigers, Regier posted 150 points (61 goals, 89 assists).
The only other player to appear in the NHL from the Islanders 2004 draft class is Wes O’Neill. Drafted in the fourth round (115th overall), the native of Windsor, Ont. played four seasons at Notre Dame. The Isles did not offer him a contract after his collegiate career ended leading him to sign with the Colorado Avalanche.
O’Neill debuted with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2007. He was sent back to Lake Erie for the 2008-09 season earning a call-up on March 27, 2009. He debuted in a 4-1 Colorado loss against Vancouver the same night. O’Neill played two more games before being sent back down to finish the season in the AHL.
Other than Campoli and Comeau, only two other draft picks still remain in the system. Defenseman Emil Axelsson, drafted in the seventh round (210th overall) has played for two teams in the Swe-1 league since being drafted. Jason Pitton (Round 8, 244th overall) has spent parts of the last three seasons in Bridgeport where he has recorded 28 points including 16 assists in 136 games.
Third round selection Sergei Orgorodnikov played his only North American season in 2006-07 splitting time between the Sound Tigers and the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL. Orgorodnikov returned to his native Russia where he played the past two seasons with Novokuznetsk Mettallurg.
Jaroslav Mrazek (Round 6, 179th overall) played two seasons in the OHL for the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors. The defenseman returned to the Czech Republic in 2006 where he has played for four different teams in the past three seasons.
Ninth round selection, goaltender Sylvain Michaud (276th overall) posted an 85-81-18 record in his QMJHL career which saw him play for Drummondville, Rouyn-Noranda and Chicoutimi. He played the previous two seasons for the University of Quebec-Trois Rivieres.
Ogorodnikov, Mrazek and Michaud are no longer listed as prospects of the Islanders.