Graziano: Islanders Potential Options In NHL Draft

Andy Graziano
June 20, 2019 - 10:33 am
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The already unbelievable Metropolitan division is getting better. It will continue to improve following the annual NHL draft, scheduled to begin on Friday night in Vancouver.

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Jack Hughes and Kappo Kakko will arrive and both should be ready to see regular action once the 2019-20 season opens this October with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers (flip those teams as you see fit). The Rangers continued accelerating their rebuild on Monday evening by stealing Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets for Neil Pionk and their second first-round selection, 20th overall.

Lou Lamoriello is on the hunt for more offense and seems to be leaning the trade route, while at the same time, keeping a watchful eye on the Artemi Panarin sweepstakes. After Panarin and Matt Duchene, the free agent pool drops off in talent significantly. Not to mention we still await the announcement of contract extensions for Anders Lee and Robin Lehner.

New York will be on the clock at 23rd overall should Lamoriello decide to keep the pick and with five centers expected to go in the first 10 picks, the Islanders might be in a ‘take the best player available’ position when they are finally called up to the podium. Here are some players, whether a reach or not, that should be watched on draft night.

Related: Islanders' Trotz Wins Jack Adams Award As NHL's Top Coach

Raphaël Lavoie (Halifax, QMJHL): Lavoie is a huge kid, standing 6’4, 199 as an 18-year old. He had a tremendous year in Halifax, but keep in mind that was against much smaller opposition. Two scouts who I spoke with think that he would be best suited for NHL action as a wing rather than a center due to him being ‘not so fleet of foot’ as was texted to me. Given his size, it's hard to see him dropping to 23, but we’ve seen some strange selections at previous drafts. So, albeit slight, there’s a chance.

Arthur Kaliyev (Hamilton, OHL): Kaliyev doesn’t turn 18 until next week, but is another hulking prospect at 6’2, 194. He scored 51 goals in 67 games with Hamilton in 2018-19 and that wasn’t by accident. Scouts rave about his release and prowess around the net. Said to possess ‘grade A hockey sense’, but he needs to work on his play in his own zone (not unlike many youngsters that are draft eligible). Top sites such as hockeyprospect.com, future considerations and ISS hockey have him going low, so he could be around when Lamoriello must pull the trigger.

Ryan Suzuki (London, OHL): Suzuki is what he is…just a damn good hockey player. Smart with the puck, responsible in his own zone and can skate with the best of them. On the smaller side of the prospect pool (6’0, 181), if good fortune smiles on the Islanders at 23, you might not be able to justify not selecting him. Was told by one scout, ‘he’s clearly a passer before he’s a shooter.’ If Islanders do draft him, you must trust they don’t turn him (or he turns himself?) into another Ryan who came before him.

Cam York, (USNTDP): Torrey Krug ring a bell? Oh, yeah, he was just playing in the Stanley Cup final for the Boston Bruins. Think of York in similar terms. Only 5’11 and 189 pounds, the American is very fleet-footed with high hockey sense. Transitions from defense to offense in a flash. Projected to be a PP QB for the team drafting him. And how much fun would Pierre McGuire have since York went to his favorite high school – Shattuck-St.Marys in Minnesota.

Philip Tomasino (Niagara, OHL): Tomasino doesn’t let size equate to tenacity when it comes to his game. At 5’11, 183, a scout texted me, ‘Think another Cizikas. Could score but could also be turned into a defensive pain in the ass to play against. Will forecheck anyone, no matter how much bigger they are.’ Projected to go in the early 20s, so New York should have a shot should they choose to go this route.

Samuel Poulin (Sherbrooke, QMJHL): Son of Patrick Poulin, who played 15 years in the NHL, Samuel projects to be a typical power forward. Good straight-ahead speed plays a ‘hard’ game and likes to drive the net. Very up-tempo player who likes to play the game at speed. Projections have him all over the map in terms of when he might be selected. Pre-20s on name, or mid-20s based on skill.

Connor McMichael (London, OHL): Seems to be a nice player who took a tremendous offensive jump in his second year in the OHL, going from 3-3-6 in 28 games to 36-36-72 in 67 games. That’s some fine development coming out of London, for sure. Said to have good hands and a deceptively quick release and is no slouch in the speed department. Will be available at 23, surely.