While there has been much talk about the Islanders' fifth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, there hasn't been much discussion about the nine other picks the Islanders have in rounds 2-6 (2-2nd, 2-3rd, 1-4th, 2-5th, 2-6th). These selections can be just as crucial as the first round pick.
This edition of NYI Top 10 gives a rundown of the greatest Islanders draft steals from the second round or later. Below are picks 1-5.
5. JOHN TONELLI
|John Tonelli |
Selected in the 2nd round (33rd overall) of the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft
One of the toughest big game players to ever wear an Islanders uniform, John Tonelli was an energetic power forward that got the most out of his abilities at all the right times. His aggressive style of play and big game goals helped lead the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cups. The Hamilton, Ontario-native is most notable for his important goals that helped lead the Islanders during their playoff runs. During the 1981-82 playoffs, the Islanders were five minutes away from elimination, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 when Tonelli assisted on a goal by Mike McEwen and then tied the game himself, scoring with under two minutes remaining in regulation. Tonelli would score the game-winning goal in overtime and the Islanders would eventually go on to win the Stanley Cup for the third straight season. While a second round pick may not exactly be a "steal," considering Tonelli played in more games and tallied more career points than the 32 players chosen before him, save one (Mike Bossy), we'll deem him eligible for this list.
4. KEN MORROW
|Ken Morrow |
Selected in the 4th round (68th overall) of the 1976 NHL Amateur Draft
As one of the Islanders' grittiest and most intense defensemen of all-time, Ken Morrow played the game with a high level of intelligence. He knew when to make the right play, seemingly all of the time, making him a key contributor to the Islanders' great historical run in the early 1980s. After joining the Islanders during the 1979-80 season, Morrow would eventually help lead the team to its first championship in his rookie campaign. He became the first player to ever win Olympic Gold and a Stanley Cup in the same year. Morrow would spend his entire career with the Islanders, which was eventually cut short due to knee problems.
3. STEFAN PERSSON
|Stefan Persson |
Selected in the 14th round (214th overall) of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft
Selected in the 14th round of the 1974 NHL Entry Draft – yes, you read that correctly – defenseman Stefan Persson was as integral a member of the Core of 4 as any Islander player. As a 23-year-old rookie in 1977-78, Stefan rang up 50 assists, an NHL record for rookie defensemen (his 56 points as a first year blueliner is a team record that that still stands). Stefan kept contributing, serving as a key member on all four Cup winners (though he had to take his 1981 victory lap after having watched the game from the press box due to a broken jaw). He was a valued Islander until his retirement after the 1985-86 season – too soon for most Islander fans. He was the perfect complementary player on one of the best, most versatile defense units the NHL has ever seen – and a joy to watch.
2. BOB NYSTROM
|Bob Nystrom |
Selected in 3rd round (33rd overall) of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft
Mr. Islander, Bobby Nystrom, will live in the hearts of Islanders fans forever because of the shot that brought Long Island its first Stanley Cup Championship. But it was also the heart that he brought to the Islanders and their faithful that makes Nystrom so special to the organization. It was on May 24, 1980 that Nystrom secured his place in Islanders history. It was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals and the Islanders were looking to close out the Flyers at the Coliseum. The Islanders took a 4-2 lead into the third period, but could not hold their momentum and saw themselves tied 4-4 heading into sudden death overtime. At 7:11 of the first overtime, Nystrom would deflect a pass from John Tonelli into the Philadelphia net giving the Islanders their first ever Stanley Cup. No player drafted before Nystrom in 1972 accomplished so much with just one shot.
1. BRYAN TROTTIER
|Bryan Trottier |
Selected in the 2nd round (22nd overall) of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft
It could be argued that it was a steal to pick Bryan Trottier anywhere other than first overall. After picking Clark Gillies fourth overall in 1974 (not a bad choice), the Islanders waited patiently for 17 other selections, including five by the Montreal Canadiens, before choosing their future all-time points leader 22nd overall. One of the best two-way centers to ever play the game of hockey, Trottier was a staple in the Islanders lineup throughout the four-year Stanley Cup run. The Val Marie, Saskatchewan-native was drafted by the Islanders in the 1974 Entry Draft. Less than 25 years later, Trottier became a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame after registering 524 goals and 901 assists in 1,259 games. He appeared in 221 playoff games, registering 71 goals and 113 assists. Trottier spent 15 years on Long Island and ranks among the top five in just about every statistical category in Islanders history. Most notably, through the playoff run that brought four Stanley Cups to Long Island, Trottier recorded a point in 27 straight playoff games, an NHL record that still stands today. His number 19 jersey was raised to the rafters in a ceremony on October 20, 2001.
Check back next week for another NYI Top 10 List.Draft steals 6-10Click here for NYI DRAFT CENTRAL 2008 info.