Prior to the 2007 NHL draft the Islanders were in serious contention and were buyers at the deadline. In order to make a serious push to make the playoffs they traded two former first round prospects Ryan O'Marra (EDM) and Robert Nilsson along with their first rounder in the '07 draft to the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Smyth. At the time Smyth was a point per game player in Edmonton and the Islanders were in serious need of a playoff berth. They also traded their second round pick to the Washington Capitals in return for Richard Zednik. Finally, the moved Alexei Zhitnik to the Philadelphia Flyers for a third rounder and Freddy Meyer.
The 2007 draft has been a disappointment for Islanders, but not a lot was expected given they had no selections in the first two rounds. Only one of their five players selected is still in their prospect pool and owned by the Islanders.
Mark Katic was drafted out of the OHL as a two-way defenseman who could man the powerplay. Following his draft year, he would spend two more seasons with Sarnia of the OHL, posting 31 points in 45 games in 2007-08, then 54 points in 63 games in 20008-09.
He would make his professional debut in 2009-10 with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers where he would post three goals and 11 assists through 14 games.
After a very promising sophomore professional season, Katic suffered a devastating shoulder injury in the preseason. As a result of the injury he has yet to play in a regular season game in 2011-12. There is still no timetable for his return to action after receiving very serious surgery to repair a chronic shoulder issue.
On the bright side of things the surgery may be able to finally put an end to his nagging injury problems. When healthy he is a very consistent puck mover on the backend for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He makes a very good breakout pass and is a very slick defender. Though he lacks size he makes up for it with stellar positioning and stick use. He is also more than capable of anchoring the power play if needed.
Gregoire was drafted following a very impressive rookie season with the Lincoln Stars (USHL), where he managed 16 goals and 20 points in only 32 games. Following the draft, he would play one more year in the USHL, managing 37 goals and 32 assists in 54 games.
In 2008-09, Gregoire would begin his first of three very successful seasons at the University of North Dakota where he increased his offensive production every season. In his freshmen season he potted 12 goals and helped set up 17 others. Then in his sophomore year he increased his goal total to 20 and assisted on 17 once again. In his final collegiate season he scored 25 goals and set up 28 others for his best season.
Gratchev is another promising player who never panned out and failed to sign a contract with the Islanders. He was very successful while playing at the junior level with Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) and Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL). He was about a point-per-game player with both clubs. After his 2009 season with the MAINEiacs he joined the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for one regular season game and one playoff game before he signed with the Elmira Jackals (ECHL) the following offseason. He is currently playing for the Chicago Express (ECHL).
Blake Kessel, D, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) – 6th Round, 166th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Brother of Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel, Blake was taken by the Islanders in the sixth round with the hope he could develop into an offensive defenseman. Kessel was drafted out of the USHL, where with the Waterloo Black Hawks, he managed 38 points in 59 games.
In Blake's second season with the Black Hawks he potted 19 goals and tallied 38 assists to go along with winning USHL Defensemen of the Year.
After his tremendous 2007-08 season he went on to play three very successful collegiate seasons much like fellow Islander draftee Gregoire. In his first season at the University of New Hampshire he notched 13 points before breaking out for 38 in his sophomore season. Then in his third and final year he scored 27 points. After those three seasons he was signed to an entry-level deal by the Philadelphia Flyers where he players for their AHL affiliate Adirondack Phantoms.
Simon Lacroix, D, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) – 7th Round, 196th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Lacroix, was drafted out of the QMJHL as a high-scoring defenseman. Lacroix would go on to have three more relatively unspectacular seasons in the Q, two more with Shawinigan and another with Val-D'Or, never managing more than the 50 points in 62 games he posted in 2008-09.
He is currently playing for the University of Moncton where in his second season, he has six points through 12 games.
Article was written by Josh Buckingham.