Islanders hold onto top selection

By Ken McKenna

The potential for the opportunity to select OHL star John Tavares was the source of drama leading up to Tuesday’s Draft Lottery for the 2009 NHL Draft. The New York Islanders had the best opportunity to land the first overall selection given their finish at the bottom of the NHL standings, but four other teams below the Islanders also had a shot.

But the odds played out as advertised, and the drama became a formality following the completion of the lottery. The draft order remained unchanged, with the Islanders earning the right to choose Tavares should they decide that to be the best course of action.

The Tampa Bay Lightning hold the second slot, and would likely select Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman with that pick.

After the top two players available in this draft, the order of the next several players chosen will depend largely on the drafting philosophy and team needs of the teams choosing at positions 3 through 10. The Colorado Avalanche choose third overall, and would seem to be a team in need of some help at the forward positions. Any one of the following forwards – Matt Duchene (OHL), Evander Kane (WHL), Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi (SWE), or Brayden Schenn (WHL) – would be a plus for the Avalanche depth chart.

The Atlanta Thrashers hold the fourth position in the order. The Thrashers chose a defenseman with their first pick in last year’s draft, so they would seem to be another candidate to take a look at one of the available forwards. And the Los Angeles Kings, holder of the fifth selection, would seem to be in a similar position as the Thrashers, given the depth they have at defense and their selection of Drew Doughty in last year’s draft.

So, while the top five selections in last year’s draft featured four defensemen and one forward, the 2009 NHL Draft could be just the opposite, with Hedman being the lone defender chosen along with Tavares and three other forwards. But the draft always features a few surprises, so it will be a couple of months until fans see how it all plays out.

The order for the 2009 NHL Draft as we know it so far is the following:

  1. New York Islanders

  2. Tampa Bay Lightning

  3. Colorado Avalanche

  4. Atlanta Thrashers

  5. Los Angeles Kings

  6. Phoenix Coyotes

  7. Toronto Maple Leafs

  8. Dallas Stars

  9. Ottawa Senators

  10. Edmonton Oilers

  11. Nashville Predators

  12. Minnesota Wild

  13. Buffalo Sabres

  14. Florida Panthers

The NHL Draft will take place on June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. The first round will take place Friday evening, with the remaining six rounds beginning on Saturday morning.