After the results of the NHL draft lottery were released April 10, many Islanders fans are concerned. Two of their greatest rivals within the Metropolitan Division, the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers, have the first two picks in this year’s entry draft. With two generational talents within those two slots, some fans of Long Island hockey are panicking. While this is good cause for alarm, the results of the lottery are not as disastrous as many have been led to believe.
The Devils, who acquired the first overall pick, are projected to select American-born center Jack Hughes. Hughes is undeniably a transcended talent who has the potential to dominate NHL defenses for years. This is the second time in three years where the Devils have won the draft lottery, which does not seem to bode well for the Islanders. Not to mention they have Taylor Hall, last year’s MVP and a former first overall pick as well. With this, the Devils offense looks to be one of the best in the NHL in the future.
However, the Islanders should not be too worried. The Devils are still years away from serious Stanley Cup contention. Their defense is atrocious, with 275 goals against this season. To compound their lousy backend play, the goaltending situation is not much better. Cory Schneider had only six wins in his 26 games played. While Schneider’s performance can mostly be blamed on injury, he probably won’t return to his past elite form. While youngster MacKenzie Blackwood has the potential to be solid, the Devils will likely need to find a replacement for Schneider to truly compete. The Devils are not a real threat to the Islanders in the short term future.
As for the Rangers, this year’s second overall pick belongs to them. With this pick, they are likely to select Finnish winger Kaako Kappo. The Rangers seem to be actively trying to finish this rebuild in a relatively short time frame, as they already have players to build around, such as Mika Zibanejad, Brady Skjei and Henrik Lundqvist. Zibanejad, who posted 74 points this season, will gain assistance with the addition of Kakko. Although they do not currently have a left winger to help compliment, the addition of one during free agency will help bolster the first line for next season (cough cough Artemi Panarin).
Despite this, the Rangers likely will not make the playoffs in the next few years. New York does not have much depth nor any notable goal scorers on the bottom lines. With how tightly contested the Metropolitan Division is, it is incredibly improbable the Rangers make the playoffs soon. Even if the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins begin to decline next season, the Rangers have a slim chance of making the playoffs.
As for the Islanders, they will not fade from contention any time soon. Barry Trotz, who has unquestionably been declared a coaching deity, will not allow New York to decline. Even though they are in contention at this moment, they are nowhere near done with their success. With their numerous prospects still in the system, the Islanders will only get better with time. Mat Barzal, Oliver Wahlstrom, Bode Wilde, Noah Dobson and numerous others could lead Long Island to the elusive fifth cup. Although both franchises across the East River will be adding generational talents this summer, it will likely mean very little for the Islanders.