New York Islanders 2014 NHL Draft preview

By Christian Litscher

Ryan Pulock - New York Islanders

Photo: The New York Islanders selected defenseman Ryan Pulock 15th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It has already been a busy offseason for New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow. Slotted with fifth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Snow was faced with the tough decision of whether to give the Buffalo Sabres their 2014 first round pick or their 2015 first round pick as a result of the Thomas Vanek trade.

Electing to keep this year's pick, Snow knew that he had to improve the roster to ensure that the Islanders will have a strong chance to be a playoff team next year. He has been aggressive so far, trading for the rights of Jaroslav Halak from the Washington Capitals as well as the rights of Dan Boyle from the San Jose Sharks. The Islanders managed to sign Halak to a four year deal, though Boyle appears to have no interest in signing with the team.

There is also some speculation the Islanders may use the fifth overall pick as trade bait to improve the roster. The Islanders possess nine picks in the upcoming draft, five of which are in the first three rounds, giving them a great chance to restock their system as some of their top prospects graduate.

Top 10 Prospects:

1. Ryan Strome, C
2. Griffin Reinhart, D
3. Calvin de Haan, D
4. Ville Pokka, D
5. Ryan Pulock, D
6. Matt Donovan, D
7. Anders Lee, C
8. Adam Pelech, D
9. Scott Mayfield, D
10. Anders Nilsson, D

Team Needs

The Islanders have needs on defense with Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan serving as the only core defenseman on the current roster. The loss of minute-muncher Andrew MacDonald opens up a role for one of the younger guys to fill. The Islanders do possess countless defense prospects with NHL potential so there is hope it can be a strength in the near future.

The Islanders have a need on left wing on the top line to play with stars John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The Islanders also need more top six talent to complement Frans Nielsen on the second line. Help is on the way with Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, and Anders Lee looking capable of becoming top-six offensive players if their development continues to go well.

The Islanders filled their biggest need which was in goal with the shrewd addition of Jaroslav Halak. Set to become an unrestricted free agent, Halak was acquired for a fourth round draft pick in the upcoming draft. Snow did not take long to get a contract done, signing Halak to a four-year 18 million dollar deal.

Organizational Strengths

The New York Islanders have unparalleled depth on defense in their prospect pool. Seven of their top 10 prospects are defenseman, including four of the top five. Griffin Reinhart should be ready for NHL time soon, as well Ville Pokka and Ryan Pulock, who will be getting looks in the upcoming years.

The Islanders are strong up the middle with Tavares, Nielsen, and Nelson as well as prospects Strome and Lee, who are capable of stepping into the lineup as soon as this upcoming season. The Islanders possess some skill on the wings but they need improvement as a group.

Organizational Weaknesses

The Islanders are thin at left wing on the roster and in the system. Taylor Cammarata has the most potential in the prospect pool, but is far from ready to seriously compete for an NHL roster spot. Mike Halmo and John Persson got a taste of NHL action this year, but do not project as more than bottom six players.

At right wing, Sebastian Collberg possesses high upside, but he is no sure thing to reach his potential. Kirill Kabanov has struggled at the AHL level and Kirill Petrov may never make the jump overseas. As a group, the Islander's need more depth in the system on the wings.

The Islanders could use some fresh blood in goal as Anders Nilsson and Mikko Koskinen are set to play overseas next season and Eamon McAdam and Stephon Williams had tough years at the NCAA levels.

Draft Tendencies

The Islanders have a tendency to pick from the CHL with the first pick in the draft dating back to the 2007 draft. Four of those players have been chosen from the OHL and three from the WHL. The Islanders have gone heavy on defense in the past few years which has resulted in it being the strength of their prospect pool.

They tend to draft NCAA-bound players with mid to late round picks giving them more time to develop compared to CHL drafted players. They have had a tendency to avoid European players in recent drafts, but this year is heavy with Europeans throughout so that may change.

The Islanders will currently be selecting at picks: 5, 35, 57, 65, 78, 95, 108, 155, 185.

The 57th pick, as well as prospect Collberg, was acquired in the deal that sent Vanek to Montreal. It was a conditional pick that the Islanders received once the Canadians secured a playoff berth.

The 78th pick was acquired at the trade deadline as part of a deal that sent MacDonald to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders acquired the 108th pick from Philadelphia as well as part a trade that sent pending UFA Mark Streit to the Flyers last June.

The Islanders traded the 118th pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Halak. The pick was previously acquired from Chicago in exchange for Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

Hockey's Future Staff Mock Draft Results:

5. Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Given the Islander's depth on defense in the prospect pool and the amount of high quality forwards available this year compared to defense, it is almost certain the Islanders will select a forward on June 27th. Who they select will depend on who is available but there is a lot to like about Michael Dal Colle if he is still on the board. He projects as a high skill offensive player who has strong hockey IQ. Dal Colle has a great release on his shot and he sees the ice well capable of setting up teammates for goals. He has good NHL size and plays well along the boards both offensively and defensively. Dal Colle may not have the potential to be a franchise player but could produce a lot of offense riding shotgun to a player like Tavares or Strome.