The Washington Capitals have won the Stanley Cup. Yes, I said it. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, and possible future Islanders Philip Grubauer, John Carlson, and Barry Trotz, have won the Stanley Cup, but, the Islanders have been celebrating in a different manner.
Garth Snow and Doug Weight are gone. Well, partially. They will still be in the organization in some way, shape, or form so they can pay their contracts, but Lou now has full control. He has already started the search for a new head coach as well, with Toronto Maple Leafs assistant D.J. Smith as the frontrunner. Lou is also preparing for… the Draft.
Come June 22nd-23rd, Lou Lamoriello (yes, you read that correctly) and the New York Islanders will be marching into Dallas with eight picks, two in each of the first two rounds (again… thanks Calgary!) as well as their own third, fourth, fifth, and seventh. The firsts line up as picks ten and eleven, making the Islanders the first team to have back-to-back first-round picks since the Boston Bruins in 2015, and unfortunately for Boston, we all know what happened with those three picks. Just like every other hockey website, it is now time for, as it is put in the title, the inevitable mock draft.
(Note: For the sake of everyone’s time, I will only be explaining the top five picks as well as the Islanders’ picks.)
1) Buffalo Sabres- Rasmus Dahlin (D, Frolunda HC (SHL))
Self-explanatory. Now, moving on…
2) Carolina Hurricanes- Andrei Svechnikov (RW, Barrie Colts (OHL))
Another self-explanatory pick. If Carolina, a team that moved up from pick eleven to pick two doesn’t take Svechnikov, the new management will start off their reign with a move that GM’s around the league like Jim Benning and Don Sweeney would approve of.
3) Montreal Canadiens- Brady Tkachuk (C, Boston University (NCAA))
The first real toss-up of the NHL Draft comes at numbers three and four. Both Tkachuk and Filip Zadina are outstanding talents and will both become top-six players in the future. So, why Tkachuk over Zadina for Montreal? His versatility. Tkachuk can play both center and left wing, making it possible for him to both slide in as the second-line center behind Jonathan Drouin or slide next to Drouin if a player like Max Pacioretty gets moved in the near future.
4) Ottawa Senators- Filip Zadina (LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL))
Well, this one is obvious. Whoever Montreal doesn’t take, Ottawa will take. In this case, Zadina would go to Ottawa at four. He is actually a great fit for Guy Boucher’s squad. He has the capability to slide in at second-line left wing or even first line if Mike Hoffman is dealt in the future.
5) Arizona Coyotes- Quinn Hughes (D, University of Michigan (NCAA))
Arguably the second best defenseman coming out of this draft, Hughes, an offensive defenseman, reminds me of a current Coyotes defenseman: Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He has speed and good decision making and can move the puck into the zone like it’s nothing.
6) Detroit Red Wings- Oliver Wahlstrom (LW, USNTDP (USHL))
7) Vancouver Canucks- Evan Bouchard (D, London Knights (OHL))
8) Chicago Blackhawks- Jesperi Kotkaniemi (C, Ässät Pori (SM-liiga))
9) New York Rangers- Adam Boqvist (D, Brynäs IF (SHL))
10) Edmonton Oilers- Noah Dobson (D, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL))
11/12 (from CGY)) New York Islanders- Joseph Veleno (C, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)), Ty Smith (D, Spokane Chiefs (WHL))
Our Islanders are lucky to have back-to-back picks in the draft, so either a) We can use both and not worry about a player that we want being taken in between, or b) trading one of them. In my mock draft, I have the Islanders taking Joseph Veleno and Ty Smith. Veleno was the consensus number one pick before the emergence of Rasmus Dahlin and the injury onslaught he suffered, and it has amazed me that his stock has fallen as much as it has. Veleno scored 24 goals and put up 79 points in 64 regular season games between the Saint John Sea Dogs and Drummondville, and scored five goals and put up 11 points in the playoffs with Drummondville. Smith is a smaller defenseman standing at just 5’10”, but he doesn’t mess around offensively. This season with Spokane, he scored 14 goals and had an outstanding 73 points in 69 games, and added two goals and seven points in seven playoff games. Veleno could be a great 2C, and Smith could develop into a more skillful Thomas Hickey (as in, he WILL score in other periods!)
13) Dallas Stars- Barrett Hayton (C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL))
14) Philadelphia Flyers (from STL)- Joel Farabee (LW, USNTDP (USHL))
15) Florida Panthers- Ryan Merkley (D, Guelph Storm (OHL))
16) Colorado Avalanche- Mattias Samuelsson (D, US Under-18, (USAH-NTDP))
17) New Jersey Devils- Bode Wilde (D, US-Under-18 (USAH-NTDP))
18) Columbus Blue Jackets- Calen Addison (D, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL))
19) Philadelphia Flyers- Vitali Kravtsov (RW, Belye Medvedi Polar Bears (MHL))
20) Los Angeles Kings- Serron Noel (RW, Oshawa Generals (OHL))
21) San Jose Sharks- Jett Woo (D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL))
22) Ottawa Senators (from PIT)- Rasmus Kupari (C, Kärpät Oulu (SM-liiga))
23) Anaheim Ducks- Isac Lundeström (C, Lulea HF (SHL))
24) Minnesota Wild- Grigori Denisenko (LW, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL))
25) Toronto Maple Leafs- Akil Thomas (C, Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL))
26) New York Rangers (from BOS)- Ty Dellandrea (C, Flint Firebirds (OHL))
27) Chicago Blackhawks (from NSH)- Ryan McLeod (C, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL))
28) New York Rangers (from TBL)- Alexander Alexeyev (D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL))
29) St. Louis Blues (from WPG)- Dominik Bokk (RW, Växjö Lakers (SHL))
30) Detroit Red Wings (from VGK)- K’Andre Miller (D, USNTDP (USHL))
31) Washington Capitals- Liam Foudy (LW, London Knights (OHL))
Now obviously, this is a lot to absorb in one sitting, but guess what? There will be another mock draft in the works that will come out a few days prior to the draft. For now, do your research as anything can happen on draft night.