The next pieces of the Islanders rebuilding puzzle will be
added Friday night and Saturday at the NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles. The Isles have the fifth pick overall in the
first round plus two picks in the second round and two more in the third.
As usual, Isles’ GM Garth Snow will look to take the best
overall player available with the 5th overall pick. The extra choices in the second and third
rounds give Snow ammunition if he wants to move up and take another player
later in the first round like he did last year with Calvin de Haan. It is also possible, but less likely, that
the Isles trade down in the first round like they did two years ago when
drafting Josh Bailey to accumulate even more picks.
The Isles top needs include a defenseman with size, goal
scoring forwards, a playmaking center and forwards with size.
The first two picks of this draft will almost certainly be Taylor
Hall and Tyler Seguin although it is not clear which player will be chosen
first. What is almost certain is that
neither Taylor nor Tyler will be available when the Islanders make the fifth
After that, it gets a little tricky. Scouts are undecided as to who should be
ranked third through seventh overall with three defensemen and two forwards
ranked in any of those slots depending on which scout you ask.
Here is a look at those five players in order of their
desirability for the Islanders.
Remember, two of these players will already be off the board when the
Isles make the fifth choice:
Gudbranson, D, Kingston (OHL)
Gudbranson has the size the
Islanders need so badly. He’s 6’4” and
already 195 pounds with room to grow as he matures. The Orleans, Ontario, native also has demonstrated
leadership qualities and was named captain of the Canadian World Under 18 Team
last season. He also has some offensive
upside and a nasty streak that some have compared to Chris Pronger or Larry
Fowler, D, Windsor (OHL)
Fowler has a lot more offensive ability
than Gudbranson and his biggest strength is his skating ability. He has good size at 6’2”, 190, but he has
been criticized for not playing a strong physical game. Fowler needs work on his play away from the
puck, but that should improve with experience.
He has the potential to be a power play quarterback and offensive force
for years to come.
Connolly, RW, Prince George (WHL)
Connolly has unquestioned offensive talent and
great instincts for finding open creases in defenses. The biggest question surrounding Connolly is
his health. He played in only 16 games
last year due to a hip flexor injury. If
he’s healthy, the 6’2”, 181 pound Prince George native has the potential to be
an offensive force. The question most
teams have is if it’s worth risking such a high pick on a player with a jaded
medical history. Placing him on a line with John Tavares in the future would be
a great potential one-two punch for the Islanders—if he’s healthy.
Brandon Gormley, D, Moncton (QMJHL)
The third defenseman on the list has a very
strong overall game and is the most consistent of the three blueliners
discussed here. He isn’t as strong offensively as Fowler or as big as
Gudbranson, but Gormley gets the job done without a lot of flash. He’s a very smart and instinctual player who
would be a welcome addition to the Isles’ blueline.
Alex Burmistrov, C, Barrie (OHL)
Burmistrov is a Russian who has
already played a season in OHL so his adjustment to the North American game is
already underway. He has a strong work
ethic and loves to play the game. His
offensive talent is undeniable, and Burmistrov is already a strong passer. The biggest issue is his size, or lack of
it. He is listed at 6’0” 160 pounds,
which may be fine against 17-year-old kids, but makes things a lot tougher when
going against guys like Pronger, Tyler Myers and Zdeno Chara. If he
bulks up, Burmistrov can be a slick playmaking center.