The New York Islanders didn’t have a first-round pick at the start of the 2015 NHL Draft, but things changed in a flash as General Manager Garth Snow executed two trades on the draft floor and selected forwards Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier at spots 16 and 28.
Sometimes all you need is a good plan.
“It’s much better for the organization to walk out of the draft with the players they want,” Islanders Head Amateur Scout Trent Klatt said. “If you identify somebody you like, why not make the move to get him.”
Klatt and General Manager Garth Snow’s plan required patience, luck and well-timed aggression. The Islanders had an overstock of young, talented defensemen to potentially deal, but were only going to trade into the first round if the Islanders’ targets were available.
Watching and waiting as the first 15 picks fell off the board, Snow and Klatt made their move at 16. It was bold, dealing 2012 first-round pick Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers for the 16th and 33rd overall picks.
The first pick became Barzal, an 18-year-old center from the Seattle Thunderbirds. Klatt, who had watched the Coquitlam, BC, native for three years, projected Barzal as a top-10 pick and was “baffled" that he dropped to the middle of the round.
"We weren't going to do the deal unless Barzal was there," Klatt said. "It was only because he was available that we did the deal. I wouldn't have thought he was even an option at 10 o clock this morning."
Klatt said Barzal, who had 57 points (12 goals, 45 assists) in 44 games, has elite skating ability and great hockey sense, but isn’t afraid to go into the corners or the front of the net – a trait Head Coach Jack Capuano loves in his players. Klatt praised his hands too, a nice compliment for a player whose favorite player is Patrick Kane and favorite Islander is John Tavares.
Barzal was ecstatic when he found out he’d be joining Tavares and company.
“I’m so excited to be an Islander today,” Barzal said. “To go to a team that’s already a Cup contender is pretty crazy. I’ll drop a few spots in the draft any day to go to a team that’s a Cup contender.”
Before the ripples had fully dissipated from the Barzal splash, Klatt and Snow stunned the draft floor again late in the first round. Snow picked up the phone, dealt the 33rd and 72nd picks to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 28th selection, and drafted Beauvillier.
“Could he have been there at 33? I don’t know, but why not get a guy you like and walk out with two guys you really wanted,” Klatt said.
Beauvillier is coming off a sensational season for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He scored 42 goals and 94 points, leading the Cataractes in scoring by 30 points. The 18-year-old captained Team Cherry at the CHL Top Prospects game and came highly recommended by Klatt and co.
“He’s another kid that has skill and hockey sense up the waz-zoo,” Klatt said. “He’s a terrific kid, a terrific character player.”
“I’m very excited. The feelings are incredible,” Beauvillier said with a smile.
The Islanders plan would not have come to fruition tonight without having the pieces in place to make moves. Using them well allowed the Islanders to get exactly what they wanted on draft night.