In a day that is destined to lead to the downfall of the NHL, the New York Islanders have won the NHL Draft Lottery for the #1 draft pick. There are two questions that need to be answered between now and draft day in June: 1) Tavares or Hedman? and 2) Will they still have the pick by the time all 30 teams roll into Montreal for the draft?
The Isles are one of the most mismanaged teams in the NHL. Their general manager got the job because his predecessor was fired by the owner for disagreeing with him. I shouldn’t say predecessor because that implies that Garth Snow was in management at the time while he was the backup goalie at the time and was soon to retire. The owner tries to interfere in hockey operations which has helped his team flounder to last place. This team is being rewarded for being a basket case. Putting either John Tavares or Victor Hedman on this team would be the equivalent of sending them to hockey hell where no one cares about the game. However, if they want anonymity outside the 50 Isles fans with tickets, this would be the place for them.
Since New York has a need for talent, guessing their choice for the first pick is nearly impossible. John Tavares seems the likely pick by the Isles. Both he and Hedman are considered can’t miss prospects but Tavares offensive punch would be more attractive to most teams. I say most teams because if, say, the Tampa Bay Lightning had won the first pick, I would have expected them to use it on Hedman because their defence is atrocious. But like I said, there is no strength for New York so they will likely take the “get rich quick” offense route.
Meanwhile, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager, Brian Burke, said at a press conference that he was gunning for a high pick in the draft. He said that he was willing to trade anyone to get one of the top picks and he wants Tavares. I would anticipate that any deal the Leafs would try to swing with the Islanders (or the #2 selecting Tampa Bay Lightning) would involve the Leafs’ first round pick (#7 overall), a quality roster player (a top-6 forward or top-4 defenseman), a depth player (checking forward or stay-at-home defenseman), and a prospect or two. That is assuming that Burke pulls this off in one deal. He has been known to pull off multiple ideas to get to the end he desires. With Burke you never quite know what you’re going to get but you do know that he’s going to try like hell to pull this one off.