Graziano: Islanders With Decisions To Make On Draft Night

Andy Graziano
June 21, 2018 - 8:50 am
Lou Lamoriello

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With draft night fast approaching, the New York Islanders are still without a head coach and a signed franchise center and captain. They still have the same leaky defense that gave up goals by the boatload last season, and only one signed NHL goaltender. But come Friday, fans hope to be ‘skipping to my Lou’ as the new president and general manager has tons to work with.

In a year with a weak free agent pool, the logical way New York can improve immediately heading into training camp in September is via the trade market, one expected to be active leading into and on the floor in Dallas Friday night.

Many teams are rumored to be looking to add picks to their first round haul, and teams that don’t have one are looking to move into the Friday night festivities. Holding the 11th and 12th picks in the first round and with Adam Boqvist sliding rapidly down mock draft charts, possibly due to a late season concussion suffered in the Swedish SuperElit league, Lou Lamoriello has plenty to mull over. Not to mention trying to woo Barry Trotz and get John Tavares to sign on the dotted line.

New York does have defensive depth in the system, with Sebastian Aho looking to carve out a larger role, Devon Toews coming back off shoulder surgery and Parker Wotherspoon waiting in the wings. Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield are already regulars, it seems, heading into camp.

At forward, it’s a totally different story, with the saga of Joshua Ho-Sang yet to be drafted, let alone written and Michael Dal Colle struggling to get up to speed. Literally. After that, it’s a barren wasteland of third and fourth liners, which could potentially hurt the Islanders should Tavares opt to go for free agency and sign with another team.

Lamoriello would be wise to hold onto his two picks as long as he possibly can, monitoring the first ten selections that certainly have the potential to surprise, leading to a player you might have thought you had no chance at drafting, being available. And that player would, at this point, appear to be Boqvist.

The 5’11, 175-pound 17-year old is a wonderful skater, and in terms of agility and straight line speed, has been rated ahead of obvious first selection Rasmus Dahlin. He is outstanding in the offensive zone, and some scouts say he possesses the skill set of a top forward. If Boqvist continues his slide down the draft board, Lamoriello might potentially hold the 11th pick and use it to select the dynamic defenseman. Leaving him with?

The 12th pick to play with. He could use this to package with someone (Brock Nelson?) to shore up his defense in a more immediate sense. Or obtain a number one goaltender to fill an obvious void. The forward selections at this stage could be intriguing too, with speedster and playmaker Joe Veleno or two-way center Barrett Hayton available at this slot. Joel Farabee would be an interesting look, as well as KHL winger Vitaly Kravtsov. But the safe play might be to try and package this pick away to fill a more immediate need, especially if you land a Boqvist at 11.

In any event, the Islanders are said to be wanting to ‘make a splash’ on Friday night in Texas. Whether that means Trotz is all but signed and they are waiting on an announcement remains to be seen, and is nothing more than speculation at this point. Maybe a Trotz-Tavares-draft-trade type of splash?

If that was to happen, fans would literally fall off their couches as the team would be the talk of the league in a positive light for the first time in a long while. But, one thing at a time, yeah? Let’s get to Friday first. After that, all bets are off.

Follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyGraz_WFAN