Islanders Draft Review

By Drew Bennett

Islanders Draft Review

“Mad” Mike Milbury has done it again… Milbury has one again rolled the dice by trading highly regarded Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt for Mike Peca. The basis of the “new” Islanders nucleus has been formed today, and as custom to other Milbury drafts, there have been questions left unanswered.

Yesterday, the Islanders traded Bill Muckalt, Zdeno Chara, and the 2nd selection in the 2001 draft (Jason Spezza) for Alexie Yashin.I am very happy about this deal because it made sure that the Islanders were getting the top line center that they had lacked since the days of Pierre Turgeon. Although it was hard to see the big bruiser Chara go to Ottawa, both teams received what they needed through this deal. Yashin was very excited when he heard the news and is glad to be an Islander; something that Mike Milbury wanted his players to be.

Today, Milbury traded young guns Taylor Pyatt and Tim Connolly to Buffalo for Mike Peca. Peca, who is regarded as one of the top two-way centers in the game, held out last season due to a contract dispute. Peca, who grew up watching the likes of Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier, was speechless when he heard the news. Peca also spoke very highly of the Islanders, and said that with the additions of Yashin and himself, this is a new team.

The winner of these deals will depend on three players. Those players being Tim Connolly, Taylor Pyatt, and Jason Spezza. Connolly, who has the moves and the potential to be a top 20 point producer in a matter or years, will probably be the one who will make the most immediate impact of all three. Connolly, who was calm through out all of the speculation and rumors, was said yesterday that he looked forward to playing with Alexi Yashin. Young Tim spoke too soon. Taylor Pyatt, a developing power-forward in the Brad Isbister mold, had a sub-par rookie season, but it is normal for power forwards to take a longer time to develop. Jason Spezza is going to be good, if not great, but the question that has to be answered is how long it will take him to become a solid National Hockey League player.

Both Yashin and Peca are restricted free agents and there will be no way that the Islanders will let them go unsigned before the start of the season; probably even before training camp.

In a the deal that I think was one of the best all weekend was when the Islanders acquired defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who bolsters a blast from the point, and right wing Alexander Kharitonov from the Tampa Bay Lightning for prospect defenseman Mathieu Biron and the Islanders’ 2002 second round draft pick. I, never being a huge fan of Biron, was very excited when I heard Aucion was going to be an Islander. It was only two years ago that he scored 23 goals for the Canucks. Along with Kenny Jonsson and Roman Hamrlik, the Islanders have quickly put together one of the more dangerous offensive defenseman trio’s in the NHL.

Now to the Draft picks…

4th Round – The Islanders used their 4th round pick, 101st overall to steal center Cory Stillman. Stillman, who is a well sized forward, was projected to go in the second round, and the Islanders were all smiles when he was left for them to select with their first selection of the draft.

5th Round – With a desperate need for veteran goaltending, the Islanders chose 29-year old goaltender Dusan Salficky was selected with their 5th round choice, 132nd overall. Salficky was one of the top European goalies this year and is expected to challenge for a roster spot. I might be going out on a limb here, but could this be another Roman Cechmanek?

6th Round – The Islanders selected goaltender Andy Chiodo of the OHL. He was the first pick in the 6th round, No. 166. NHL Central Scouting ranked him 7th overall among North American goaltenders. Chiodo will join Salficky, Dipietro, and Valiquette as the Islanders young net minders.

Other Choices-

197th Jan Holub
228th Mike Bray
260th Brian Perez
280th Roman Kuhtinov
287th Juha Ketola

“The sales pitch for us is a lot easier today than it was two days ago. These two guys alone bring a lot to the table and they can make us an exciting team. Our new owners are committed to moving ahead and willing to put some serious assets on the table. We have a lot of pieces in place to be a seriously competitive team this season. That’ll appeal to all the players.” – Mike Milbury