UNIONDALE, N.Y. – It will be five years this June since New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow changed the course of the franchise.
Knowing full well he would experience difficulty getting big-name free agents to agree to play long-term at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Snow called for a complete rebuild. So when the 2007-08 Islanders finished in the bottom five of the NHL standings, Snow got to work at the 2008 NHL Draft at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.
Aiming to stockpile picks, Snow traded down twice in the first round, from the fifth to the ninth pick, where he collected the first piece of his rebuild: Windsor Spitfires center Josh Bailey. At the same draft, Snow landed defenseman Travis Hamonic, goaltender Kevin Poulin and forward Matt Martin, all of whom are on the club's current roster.
In somewhat of a surprise, Bailey made the Islanders out of training camp in September 2008 and stuck with the club all season. New York finished last in the standings, which allowed them to land unquestionably the rebuild's biggest piece: franchise center John Tavares.
Still, the Islanders continued to finish near the bottom of the League's standings. Even prior to the start of last season, when players and management alike swore the rebuild was over and qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs was the goal, the Islanders again finished in the bottom five.
This season, though, has been a different story.