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Snow knows who is No. 1, still not telling

Wednesday, 06.24.2009 / 7:14 PM / 2009 NHL Entry Draft

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

"When we won the draft lottery I was asked if I knew who we were going to take.  I said at the time that I had a pretty good idea but that I wasn't firmly committed to it until we went through the process of doing our due diligence on all the top guys. Let's just say the process re-affirmed what I thought back then. We want the same guy now that we wanted back then."
-- Islanders General Manager Garth Snow

MONTREAL -- As New York Islanders General Manager Garth Snow emerged from Wednesday's Board of Governors meeting, he continued to say the same thing about who his team would take with the first pick of the 2009 Entry Draft.

Nothing.

Snow, cornered by the media at the Marriott Montreal Chateau Champlain, briefly answered questions before jumping into a car with Islanders owner Charles Wang.

"We know we're going to get a great player, someone who is going to help us get to where we're going to be," Snow said.

Who that player could be, though, remains a great unknown. Except to Snow and his staff, who said they have made their decision. But they've managed to keep that decision a closely-guarded secret, which is a great surprise in this day and age.

"Don't you think (the suspense) is a good thing?" Snow told TSN. "Don't you think that's the way it should be?"

Snow also told TSN that he's known almost since April 14, when the Islanders won the NHL Draft Lottery, who the team would be taking.

"When we won the draft lottery I was asked if I knew who we were going to take," Snow said. "I said at the time that I had a pretty good idea but that I wasn't firmly committed to it until we went through the process of doing our due diligence on all the top guys. Let's just say the process re-affirmed what I thought back then. We want the same guy now that we wanted back then."

Whether that guy is high-scoring London Knights center John Tavares, giant Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman or well-rounded Brampton Battalion center Matt Duchene, the announcement Friday night will be met with a great deal of enthusiasm on Long Island. The club expects more than 18,000 to attend a draft-night party at Nassau Coliseum.

"We have a very passionate fan base," said Snow. "That's what makes Long Island so special. Anyone who has played in the New York area realizes how passionate the hockey fans are."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was asked about the importance of this pick to the Islanders organization, considering their push to build a new arena that would keep the team on Long Island.

"Having the No. 1 pick is a special opportunity," said Bettman. "I have no doubt that Garth Snow and the Islander organization and Charles Wang are focused on the opportunity that this presents. I assume they've thought long and hard about it and they'll make a good choice."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.