The Islanders enter the 2015 NHL Draft without a first-or-second-round pick, but there’s plenty of talent available in the later rounds – and the Islanders happen to be good at finding it.
Four impact players on the current roster – Casey Cizikas, Anders Lee, Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen – were all drafted in or after the third round. Nielsen has 297 points in 525 NHL games, Martin has set (and re-set) the NHL single-season hits record, Cizikas is a heart-and-soul center and Lee just posted 25 goals in his rookie year.
Long Island has always been an island of opportunity, so players drafted in the later rounds can be assured they’ll get a fair look at rookie camp in the summer and training camp in the fall.
While Cizikas, Lee, Martin and Nielsen are evidence of the Islanders strong late-round scouting and player development, the biggest late-round success story on the roster joined the Islanders last summer – goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Halak was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the ninth round (271st overall) in the 2003 Draft. Twenty-five netminders were picked ahead of Halak, but only three – Marc-Andre Fleury, Corey Crawford and Jimmy Howard – are starters. (Brian Elliott, Halak’s teammate in St. Louis, was picked 291st, 20 picks after Halak.)
Halak’s worked for the opportunity to showcase his talent and ran with it. That’s all late-round picks want, a fair chance.
The Islanders are slated to pick 72nd, 82nd, 112th, 172nd and 202nd.
While the Islanders try to mine talent in the later rounds and develop them into NHL regulars, there’s always a chance they trade back into the top two rounds.
The Draft is a trade hub, with lots of players and picks switching hands. As recent as last year, the Islanders traded into the first round, selecting Joshua Ho-Sang with the 28th pick. Cal Clutterbuck was acquired at the 2013 draft, while Garth Snow traded back into the first round to select Brock Nelson in 2010.
Will anything happen this year?
- Ho-Sang getting drafted
Most picks in one draft: 19 – The Islanders drafted 19 players, including Clark Gillies and Bryan Trottier in the 1974 NHL Draft.
Fewest picks in one draft: 5 – The Islanders drafted five players in 2007.
The last time the Islanders picked 72nd, they selected defenseman Jyri Niemi (2008).
Oshawa Generals forward Michael Dal Colle and Head Coach D.J. Smith won the Memorial Cup together with the Oshawa Generals this season and were both drafted by the Islanders. Dal Colle was drafted fifth overall last season, while Smith was selected in the second round (41st overall) in 1995.
Latest pick ever by the Islanders: Juha-Pekka Ketola 287