The New York Islanders will be picking fourth in the 2012 NHL Draft marking the fourth straight year they will have a top five selection.
Top 10 Prospects:
The Islanders have done a great job of locking up their prospects and young stars such as 2009 first overall draft choice, John Tavares. Pending free agent P.A. Parenteau is the only integral player the Isles have a real risk of losing this summer. Matt Martin, the reigning NHL hits leader, is set to be a restricted free agent and it will be of high priority to get him locked up long-term.
On the other hand the Islanders appear to be losing three veteran bodies along the blue line to free agency. This could leave three regular spots up for grabs next season. The Islanders have some high-end defensive prospects that should be ready to step in, but they may feel the need to sign one or two via free agency.
The Islanders are stacked with prospects up with middle, but not so much along the wing. They could move some of their center prospects to wing, but would definitely benefit from adding a few wingers to their large pool of youngsters. Where the Isles really lack is with bottom-six strength and grinders that are able to shut down the opposing teams top lines.
Both left and right wing positions are in desperate need of an overhaul. Currently only Kirill Kabanov, Nino Niederreiter, and Casey Cizikas project as top six wingers for the Isles. Brock Nelson also has the ability to play the wing; he proved he was able transition smoothly from center to wing at the University of North Dakota. David Ullstrom is another solid prospect, but at this point is destined for a third line role.
The Islanders also have a lack of depth along the blue line. They only have two defensive prospects that appear ready to make the jump to the NHL in Matt Donovan and Calvin de Haan. Other prospects such as Scott Mayfield and Andrey Pedan remain a few years away from being ready for the pros. Look for the Isles to add some depth or more top-end talent to their back-end.
The Islanders main strength is undoubtedly up the middle. Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson appear poised to become very solid NHL pivots. Both play a very different style of game, but are equally as effective. Strome is more of a finesse player with great hands and vision. Nelson is a power forward who loves to crash the net. The second tier of centers includes Anders Lee and Johan Sundstrom. These hulking centers also have a good chance of making the Islanders within the next few years and also have a good amount of offensive upside.
Between the pipes is another area of strength among the Islanders organization. Anders Nilsson has the upside to become a clear-cut number one goaltender. Kevin Poulin also appears capable to become a number one guy or a very serviceable backup. Both netminders are still very raw and it takes much longer to develop goaltenders than any other position. The one-year extension of Evgeni Nabakov will give these two promising back stoppers another valuable year to develop.
Ever since Garth Snow took over as general manager in July of 2006 he has been very consistent with the way he has conducted his drafts. He has without a doubt favored drafting both centers and defensemen with his early round picks. With these selections he definitely has a knack for selecting players from both the WHL and OHL. Snow has also leaned towards drafting collegiate bound players such as Donovan, Nelson, and Lee. He is not afraid to draft players from Sweden either, which is seen with Nilsson, Sundstrom, and Ullstrom.
Look for Snow to continue his tendencies of drafting defensemen early and often. He has a logjam up the middle so he may favor drafting an elite winger. If the defenseman he is targeting is available when the Isles select fourth he will not shy away from pulling the trigger one bit.
The Islanders own the 4th, 34th, 65th, 103rd (Acquired in a deal that sent the rights of Christian Ehrhoff to the Buffalo Sabres), 124th (Conditional pick acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in the James Wisniewski trade), 125th, 155th and 185th picks. They traded their 95th pick to the Vancouver Canucks for the rights to Christian Ehrhoff.
No. 4: Filip Forsberg, F, Leksland IF (Allsvenkan)
Forsberg is exactly what the Islanders need on the wing to flank either Tavares or Strome in the next year or two. He has great size and speed to go along with slick hands. He protects the puck very well with his strong frame creating lots of space for his line mates. If Ryan Murray drops to them they will most likely select him or if they are set on drafting a defenseman they may opt to draft Matthew Dumba considering his extremely high ceiling.