Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Failing the Grade

It has to be a very frustrating time to be a New York Islander fan as the franchise has not made it out of the first round of the NHL playoffs since the 1992-1993 season.

Missing the playoffs for 4 straight seasons makes matters worse and it seems that 2010-2011 was going to be a good year for them. With a good blend of youth and experienced veteran leadership the Islanders should have made noise.

But instead they were hit hard and often by injuries which sent the team backwards and eventually led to the firing of Scott Gordon.

In so many ways the Islander terrorize their own fans from poorly run ownership to an almost constant revolving door for coaches; this is a franchise that one can say has truly abused the faith and trust of their fans.

There is no question that they have built up a very nice supply of prospect talent and with just a couple of more pieces they would be in a position to turn things around. After 3 straight very good drafts the Islanders took a couple of steps backwards with their picks.

It is not that they took bad players but instead it was more a case of taking the wrong prospect at the wrong time. The Islanders could and should have left the 2011 draft with needs met and holes filled.

Ryan Strome had a great regular season putting up 106 points in just 65 games but what good were all those points when you turned invisible when it counted? Strome was sailing along putting up points left and right but in the OHL Eastern Conference Final he was AWOL.

That is bad enough but the Islanders have a ton of size on the forward lines yet have one of the smallest defensive prospect bluelines in the NHL. Travis Hamonic and Ty Wishart are the only ones who are over 6'2 but neither offer any real offense.

Among their prospects de Haan is a passer, Donovan who is their best offensive threat is barely 6' and adding some size as well as a 2 way defender was clearly a key need. The Islanders took a Niagara IceDog but they took the wrong one.

Dougie Hamilton who was the best 2 way defender in the draft actually had a better playoff than Strome. Hamilton will give you the badly needed point shot while doing a job defensively.

Strome made no sense when you looked at the Islanders as a whole with Tavares, Nino, Kabanov, Lee, Nelson and especially Okposo. Strome was not a true need when you look at the bigger picture.

He got out played badly by his new teammate Casey Cizikas and that is not a good sign. Hamilton would have given the Islanders a very good Top 4 defense but now he gets to play for Boston instead.

Had the Islanders made the Hamilton pick it would have added meaning to the pick of Scott Mayfield. Mayfield down the road should be what Hamilton will be only now you are going to have to wait 2-3 more years.

Mayfield was a very good pick as he has a very high Hockey IQ and his decision making process is top flight. Has to become more physical for a guy his size (6'4) but he is heading to Denver which will do a very good job helping Mayfield with his development.

The other 2nd round pick Johan Sundstrom just might be the best pick the Islanders made in this draft class. Nice size (6'2), strong all around skill set and look out for his first step. His offense needs to catch up to his defense but he will be worth the wait.

He spent most of his 2010-11 season not on the junior team but on the main Frolunda team which is am impressive feat for an 18 year old. At worse the Islanders will be getting someone who will win face offs, kill penalties and shut down people.

The Islanders should leave him in Sweden until he is 21-22 then bring him over as the body should be mature as well as his game itself. Really like this pick here.

In the 3rd, Andrei Pedan is a 6'3 defender who likes to play a physical brand of hockey but the Islanders will need to send him to both skating school and then over to Trevor Gillies for some lessons in how to fight on the ice.

Do not count on any offense from Pedan as his hand speed is really slow but he has almost no creativity at all. He will make a good 3rd pair defender if you can fix his skating and show him how to fight.

Using their 4th round pick on Robbie Russo, the Islanders went back to taking the barely 6' defenders. This one is a headscratcher because Russo is primarily a defensive defenseman  with almost no offense at all.

He is a good defender, mature and wise for his age but in the NHL he it is doubtful will have the strength to win crease/slot battles. The Islanders get a pass as from the 4th round on this draft became close your eyes and roll the dice.

In the 5th the Islanders had 2 picks, the first John Persson is a 6'2 LW who one will suggest not to get mad. This is a Swedish kid with a right hand that would make any fighter proud.

But despite his KO power and his really nice stat line of 33-28-61 +37, the reason Persson is in the 5th round and not sooner is because he was a very frustrating inconsistent player. He wasn't consistent enough to be a streak scorer as his numbers were all over the place.

No question he has skill but in the end when you look for his hockey sense it is not as strong as it should be. IF he can become a consistent player then the Islanders would have a steal here instead of a coach's ulcer.

Brendan Kichton is one of those players you look at and say "If Only he was" as Kichton was a lot of fun to watch in the WHL. Way mature for his age and if he was 6'2 then he would be a sure shot NHLer especially with his offensive skill.

The problem is he is listed at 5'11 and that is being kind as he is a small defender who is a great junior player but it is highly doubtful he will ever get strong enough to hold down a regular NHL spot.

His offense is great, his leadership is great and his decision making skills are great but the only way he makes it to the NHL is with a body guard.

In the 7th round the Islanders used theirs on Ryan Strome's teammate Mitchell Theoret and to be fair to him I am going to link this rather than do a report. It comes from the OHL Prospects page who's writer Brock Otten is one of the best objective guys out there.

Brock likes him which is good enough for me.

But at the end of the day, the Islanders had the kind of draft that while overall it is not a bad one but it is hurt by the Ryan Strome pick. Take Dougie Hamilton and this is a very good draft class but taking Ryan Strome hurts their rebuilding because Strome as nice a guy as he is just is not an elite NHLer.

And please skip the "he is a Ranger fan" nonsense because overall I still believe the Islander still have the better prospect collection than the Rangers. I liken this draft to the guy who hits a fiery shot deep into the outfield that was so pretty to watch but because it was so fast all he got out of it was a single instead of more.

No News Is Good News

Day one of Ranger rookie camp came and went without anything big to report. That is a good thing as typically the big news winds up being bad news.

The quieter the camp the smoother it will be as it is a fluff time for the media but it is more about getting these prospects off on the right foot.

(Islander logo courtesy of the Islanders)

5 comments:

Islebback said...

This blog is clearly written by a Ranger fan but up until this draft was pretty even-handed concerning his writing on the other Metropolitan teams. The knock on Strome is that he has to build up strength, and if he does, can be a very good NHLer. Well, okay, he wasn't able to match the physicality of a prospect drafted two years earlier. That doesn't define Strome's potential. As an Isles fan, I was rooting for Hamilton to be picked, but as the time got closer, my preference swung to Strome. I believe the Isles made the right choice, backed up the choice by later drafting two promising shutdown defenseman prospects, and now are making a big-time play for a quality d-man free agent. If Strome turns into Tambellini, then they wasted their #5 pick. If he turns into Patrick Sharp/Briere/Duchene, then they aced the draft

Islebback said...

This blog is clearly written by a Ranger fan but up until this draft was pretty even-handed concerning his writing on the other Metropolitan teams. The knock on Strome is that he has to build up strength, and if he does, can be a very good NHLer. Well, okay, he wasn't able to match the physicality of a prospect drafted two years earlier. That doesn't define Strome's potential. As an Isles fan, I was rooting for Hamilton to be picked, but as the time got closer, my preference swung to Strome. I believe the Isles made the right choice, backed up the choice by later drafting two promising shutdown defenseman prospects, and now are making a big-time play for a quality d-man free agent. If Strome turns into Tambellini, then they wasted their #5 pick. If he turns into Patrick Sharp/Briere/Duchene, then they aced the draft

Jess Rubenstein said...

Islebback

So please explain why (A) I decided to trash Strome after being as you said even handed all season long?

If what I wrote was not consistent with how I have treated the Islanders all year long then I wasted a lot of effort trying so very hard to earn credibility with the Islander fans.

(B)Why didn't I trash any of the other picks as well? Even you admit that your first preference was Hamilton.

Why was that? Really if you had been reading me then you would have seen that I never once wavered from Hamilton.

That I have repeatedly made the case as to why the Islanders needed to use that pick on Hamilton.

Strome did not address your need which was a 2 way defender with size. If I am wrong then why did the Islanders go after a Mayfield with their 2nd pick?

They passed up a player who is 1-2 years tops from being NHL ready. Mayfield you will be lucky if he is playing for you in 3 years.

The Islanders have a strong group of forwards who will bring talent as well as size to the table. It was about addressing what was needed.

Sorry blame your GM not the person in this case.

Ethan Kaiser said...

I think Strome will be an excellent NHLer. Yes, he was shut down by Casey Cizikas, but I think Cizikas is going to become a very good defensive forward (and judging by your deserved praise of him, I'd think you'd agree). The Islanders will do the smart thing and send him back to juniors for another year so he can improve his strength. The vision is there, the shot is there, the skating is there. Players can get stronger, you can't teach offensive flair like he has.

That being said, I certainly agree with you that while speedy forwards with great hands are always tough to come by, we definitely needed to pick a big defenseman, and I thought that with Hamilton's stats, size, ability and often most important to the Islanders organization - his character and intelligence, they would have picked him. You have to assume that had Larsson slipped to them, they wouldn't have passed. Only thing I blame are the hockey gods themself for making us lose the number 4 pick overall to a 2 percent chance of the Devils winning the dang lottery.

Disagree with you on Hamonic not having much offensive ability though - had 26 pts in 52 games this year in the NHL and looked like he could certainly add on to that. The team will score more goals overall next year, Streit will be back, and he'll be a bit more comfortable in the league. De Haan will provide offense too, but we still DESPERATELY need that all around package - a Shea Weber type.

Islanderbluenose said...

Thanks for the coverage. nice to see perspective from some one not as deeply vested as most Isles fans. Totally disagree on your projection for Strome. He was the pick @5 Snow should have made. A higher potential ceiling than anyone in the draft outside of RNH. Do the Isles need a player like you project Hamilton to become, Yes. Is a top 5 pick in the draft the most efficient place to find that type of player, I suggest, most in the NHL who fit this mold are not not selected early in the first round because they take longer to develop and are too difficult to project at 18 years old.