On Friday, the 2014 NHL Entry Draft took place in Philadelphia, and the New York Islanders were there to make a few waves. I think they did just that. There was a lot of talk that the Isles could trade their first round pick. But it turns out, Garth Snow wasn't impressed with what was being offered, so he would keep the pick and acquire a quality piece to add to the already deep prospect pool. We all know the Islanders need a wing for the top line, a top pair defensemen and a quality back up goaltender before the start of next season. Hopefully that can be taken care of when the free agency period opens on Tuesday.
But headlines were made on Friday when Garth Snow had some spirited things to say when asked about his decisions as a GM for the Islanders. Per Brett Cyrgalis, Snow said, "They can't shit on me any more than they already do up there (in Canada). "I care that we win. We get the players that we feel can help us win...and we don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks." Nice.
With their 5th selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, your New York Islanders selected Michael Dal Colle. The 6'2 LW is best known for his maturity and well-rounded game. Dal Colle finished last season with 95 points (39g, 56a) in 67 games. He also tallied 20 points (8g, 12a) in 12 playoff games. Eric Hornick points out that Dal Colle wears #71 in Jr play, a number worn only by Denis Vaske and Mark Katic for the Isles. Dal Colle made headlines off the ice prior to the draft when the NHL network featured a touching story on his brother's serious condition and his mom's recovery from breast cancer. Dan Savarino quoted Dal Colle as saying it was a dream come true to become an Islander. He feels he is "almost there" when asked about playing for New York. Tavares, Okposo & Bailey all contacted Dal Colle soon after being drafted to welcome him to the organization.
It turns out that Garth Snow wasn't done yet. He sent the Isles #35 & 57th selection to Tampa Bay for their #28th pick to select Josh Ho Sang late in the first round. Josh Ho-Sang has been called a top 5 player in talent, who lost ground in the rankings due to uncertainty of his commitment, focus and attitude as a hockey player. After being questioned on selecting Ho Sang despite these reservations, Snow said that he (Ho Sang) would fit right in and that they (NHL Media) shit on him (Snow as a player) too. I love it. Clearly, Snow said Ho Sang was worth the risk. He is probably correct in his assumption because Ho Sang has what has been called, "Immense talent" as a hockey player. Ho Sang said, "I'll give them everything I have, I'll push until I can't breathe," on his commitment to the Islanders for taking a chance on him. On Instagram, he said, "So crazy blessed for the opportunities I have been given. So proud to be a New York Islander. I want to thank everyone who has been apart of my journey big or small, #justthebegining #grateful." The talented RW/C tallied 85 points (32g, 53a) in 67 games last season with the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.
On day #2, the Isles started the day by trading their #65 selection to Florida for their 3rd round pick in 2015.
At the 78th selection, the Isles took Russian goaltender, Ilya Sorokin from Metallurg Novokuznetsk. A big positive is that the 18 year old Sorokin already has 40 games of pro experience from his play in the KHL. He posted a .911 SV% and 2.90 GAA in 27 games this past season.
With the 95th selection, the Isles added goaltender, Linus Soderstrom from Djurgarden of the Swedish Jr. League. Soderstrom posted a .915 SV% and 2.61 GAA with Djurgarden's U-20 team this past season. At 6'4, he seems like a viable replacement for what the organization had in mind when they drafted former Islander, Anders Nilsson. Soderstrom said, "(I am) so proud to get drafted by the New York Islanders. Extremely excited for the future!"
Bill Both stated, "FYI Soderstrom is under contract for 2 more seasons & Sorokin for 3 more years."
At pick #108, The Islanders select defensemen, Devon Toews of Quinnipiac U. Toews tallied one goal and 16 assists in 37 games for the QU Bobcats this past season. Toews is not related to NHL player, Jonathan Toews.
With the 155th overall pick, the Isles select forward, Kyle Schempp from Ferris Sate University. Schempp was good for 25 points (10g, 15a) in 43 games during this past season at Ferris State. Schempp said it was "Unbelievable feeling being drafted by the New York Islanders. Can't wait to see what the future holds w/ a great organization & city." He added that it was humbling and a great honor.
Then the Isles traded the 185th pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 200th pick, as well as the Lightning's 7th round pick in 2015.
With the 200th overall pick, the Islanders selected forward Lukas Sutter from the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL. Sutter, Rich's son and Darryl's nephew, was drafted by WPG in 2012 but did not sign & re entered the draft this year only to be chosen later by the Isles. This is similar to Kichton not signing with the Isles, re entering the draft and being selected later by WPG.
I thought the players the Isles added were good choices. I am thrilled with Dal Colle & Ho Sang. Dal Colle was the choice of most Isles fans I heard from on who they wanted if the Islanders used the #5 selection. He is a complete player who has over come a lot of personal adversity to continue his hockey career. Character (and skill) is something a team can never have too much of. And much like when he traded up to draft de Haan in 2009 with Tavares, Snow made a move to acquire another highly skilled player in the first round with Ho Sang. While some are comparing it to the move for Kabanov, I think the Ho Sang situation is different. Although Kabanov seemed to improve in attitude and get better as a player, he never seemed able to impress Management and prove he was ready. Ho Sang has said all the right things and seems to have a chip on his shoulder to prove the other 29 teams wrong for not taking him.
In addition, they added two highly respected goaltending prospects to the system for the future and some other valuable assets were garnered in later rounds. Especially Lukas Sutter, who was originally a 2nd round, 39th overall pick of the Jets in 2012. Snow has made some mistakes, but after inheriting a pretty sparse product from Milbury, has made some strong additions to this team despite limitations of draw and budget. But there is a lot of room for improvement and I think this off-season could be different. After signing Halak and going for Boyle, Islander fans can expect Snow to continue to be aggressive on July 1st, and hopefully add a few more crucial pieces to what could be one of the best line ups we have seen in quite a while to suit up in Uniondale.
The NHL salary cap for 2014-15 is $69 million. A lower number than projected, while the floor is $51 million.