The Islanders and the Virtue of Patience

By Drew Bennett

With almost a week before the 2001 National Hockey League Entry Draft,
rumors are heating up on Long Island about what “Mad” Mike Millbury will do
next. Last year Millbury traded the top prospect in hockey, Roberto Luongo,
to draft Rick Dipietro. Will Mike Millbury be up to his usual self again
this year? Only time will tell…

The Islanders have many options in this year’s draft. They have a solid
nucleus of young forwards (Tim Connolly, Taylor Pyatt, Brad Isbister, Juraj
Kolnik, and Justin Mapletoft), skilled and big defenseman (Branislav Mezei,
Mathieu Biron, and Roman Hamrlik), as well as talented net minders (Rick
DiPietro and Stephen Valiquette) in the fold. The speculation is that the
Islanders will either trade the pick or select Jason Spezza or Slanislav
Tchistov; both offensive weapons.

If the Islanders do trade the pick, it is expected that they will make a
deal for Boston’s Jason Allison or Ottawa’s Alexi Yashin. If they are to
make a trade for one of the two, it will cost the team more than the 2nd
overall pick in the entry draft. Most likely, a deal which would bring
Yashin or Allison to the Island would include the 2nd overall pick and two
of the Islanders young talents. That list would include Zdeno Chara, Mark
Parrish, Tim Connolly, and Brad Isbister. The question that I ask myself
about that kind of a deal is, “Is it worth giving up two of the NHL’s
up-and-coming talents and a top draft choice for a star player who might not
be able to single handedly push the Islanders into the playoffs.” Remember,
it wasn’t a single player who led the Islanders to four straight cups.
Without Brian Trottier and Dennis Potvin, Mike Bossy could not have led the
Islanders to four straight championships; maybe not even one.

In my personal opinion, I look at it this way. The Islanders have not been
in the playoffs for over half a decade. After a couple of terrible owners
and a bunch of different coaches, things are finally looking good. Peter
Laviolette looks like a tough coach who will get the respect and effort from
his players. The Islanders now have a core of players who, with time and
patience, could lead the Islanders to Lord Stanley’s cup.

Ice Chips:

The Islanders re-signed forward Mats Lindgren. Lindgren, who has been
plagued by shoulder problems the past two years, says he feels great and is
confident that he will have a good and healthy season…The Islanders also
signed three European prospects. Czech blue liner Radek Martinek and
veteran Swedish Elite League defenseman Dick Tarnstrom signed contracts.
Finnish blue liner Marko Kiprusoff, signed as a free agent. It seems likely
that all three are destined for Bridgeport…Ray Giroux will also be returning
to the Islanders for next season. Giroux, an offensive defenseman, will
help the Islanders dreadful power play.