As an Islander fan, you have to be excited. We are one day away from selecting an excellent player. It's a draft that many experts say is one of the best in years. There are some quality players available well into the 2nd round. However, the first seven or eight picks are ones who could become superstars in the league. That is what makes this draft so exciting.
As GMs arrived yesterday in Ottawa for the event, the trade winds began to pick up. It's been rumored that one GM possibly looking to move around could be our very own Garth Snow. The Isles pick 5th as it stands right now. However, there are rumors that the Los Angeles Kings could be shopping their pick. In The Hockey News' mack draft, they had the Islanders swapping picks with the Kings, and selecting defenseman Zach Bogosian 2nd overall. While I really like Bogosian's game and would not mind him at all, you have to take defenseman Drew Doughty at number two if you're moving up. Yet another rumor that involves LA's pick has them talking with the Penguins about Evgeni Malkin. The Kings have a great young core they have been establishing, especially on offense, and they could really use a blueliner like Doughty to pair with Jack Johnson for many years to come. King's GM Dean Lombardi says that he has received a couple of offers for the 2nd overall, but after discussing it with management are most likely going to stick with their plan for now and hold the pick. Granted, things can change in the hours leading up to the draft. However, I think LA holds the pick and takes Doughty.
Another rumor that involves the Isles is with Toronto. According to the Toronto Sun, the Leafs are once again interested in moving Bryan McCabe and his contract, and once again it is believed he'd only be willing to waive his no trade clause for a trade to the Islanders, where his wife lives and the McCabe family lives in the summer. The Sun says it is very possible that a deal could be worked on that has McCabe and Toronto's 7th overall pick going to the Islanders for the 5th. But as Greg Logan mentions in his blog on Newsday today, Snow has said time and time again that he won't help a team with their contract problems unless it would be worthwhile for him. That would mean Toronto would have to throw in a young player along the likes of Kyle Wellwood, Alexei Ponikarovski, Alex Steen or Matt Stajan. I don't think that this is something Toronto would go for right now, so I would expect McCabe to remain in a Leafs uniform through the draft.
Other rumors of teams looking to move up include Vancouver (10th overall), Chicago (11th), Anaheim (12th) and Ottawa (18th). From an Islander standpoint, it really wouldn't make any sense to move down past 10. I'm not too sure how the Isles can even make a deal with Vancouver as they really don't have that much to give up in order to move up the 5 spots, unless they are considering breaking up the Sedin twins, which I highly doubt.
Now if I'm Snow, I am definitely listening to any offers that come my way. If a team looking to move up comes calling, it could be a great opportunity to pick up an excellent young NHL player, as well as a pretty solid prospect from the first round of this draft. However, moving out of the top 7 or 8 would mean you potentially lose a chance at a superstar prospect, but it could be well worth it depending on the package.
My own personal opinion is that the Isles should keep the pick as it looks like the Russian phenom, winger Nikita Filatov could be available at pick number 5. He seems to be the guy that most fans are hoping for, and rightfully so. Every scouting report has talked about his skill, speed and desire as things that set him apart from some of the other forward prospects in the draft, even though he is a bit on the small side. During the premiere of the new Islanders Insider show yesterday, MSG+ analyst Billy Jaffe mentioned that Filatov is the type of player Detroit would go after because of his skill, puck handling and speed. Detroit certainly knows how to pick them, so it is certainly a good thing if they are high on him. If Filatov is not there at 5, then there is always one of defenseman Luke Schenn, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and winger Mikkel Boedker.
Filatov has no contractual obligations in Russia next year, and will play in North America for the upcoming season. If he doesn't make it to the NHL, he will be the first overall pick in the Canadian Hockey League import draft and will spend the year there. In a recent post on his blog, Filatov mentioned the Islanders and Toronto as possible destinations, but specifically spoke about the Islanders as being a perfect destination as they do need help offensively and he would have the chance to make the team out of camp. In his first North American "appearance" on radio a few nights ago, he said he thinks he will go to either the Islanders at five or Toronto at seven. He has talked to many teams, and I think he would be able to tell who has shown the most interest. So, he would know.
So there you have it, all the pieces are in place for Filatov to go to the Islanders, and this is exactly what I think will happen.