June 25, 2010

Islanders Draft Preview

The day we have been waiting for since April is finally here! That's right folks, it's draft day. Today we'll find out which of these young kids the Islanders had their eyes on and were the most impressed with after extensive interviews. The Islanders brought a number of kids in, even some ranked much lower than the slot where they are picking.

During our last podcast, Sean was very surprised with my prediction of Cam Fowler being there for the taking at 5. There have been a number of moves since then, which could affect how the top of the draft goes. So, here is how I see things shaking out:

1. Edmonton Oilers - Taylor Hall. No questions here. Hall is undoubtedly the top player in this draft, and has been seen as the number one for almost two years now.

2. Boston Bruins (from Toronto) - Tyler Seguin. This one was a bit tough. The Bruins offense struggled mightily last year, and their recent acquisition of winger Nathan Horton from Florida helps them big time in that department. However, Seguin is a rare breed- a right handed center who has shown he can shoot the puck just as well as he can dish it off. While he sort of moved up big time this year due to a huge sophomore year in the OHL, Boston should have no second thoughts of drafting him. They will finally find their replacement for Phil Kessel.

3. Florida Panthers - Brett Connolly. This is where many people get surprised, but not me. Most are projecting Florida to go with a defenseman here. After dealing Horton, the team needs some offensive superstars up front. Connolly gives the team explosiveness up front they have not seen since Pavel Bure. Hip injuries derailed Connolly for much of this season as he only appeared in 16 regular season games for the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. It speaks volumes that even after that, hes still in top 5 territory. The hip issues are still lingering over his head as we go into the draft, but if hes healthy this will be one of the Panthers best draft picks in their history.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets - Erik Gudbranson. Columbus has made no secret they want to go defense here. While they could really use a center, they seem to be one of the teams discussing trading for Jeff Carter or Jason Spezza. Gudbranson, still just 18, is already 6'4" and 200 lbs. Many feel that his potential is the highest of the top three defensemen, however due to a lack of offensive ability many aren't too sure if he'll ever hit it. Regardless, the Blue Jackets will get a behemoth of a player, and one who forwards will fear facing for a long time.

5. New York Islanders - Cam Fowler. Yes, I'm sticking by my prediction of Fowler to the Islanders. There seems to be a thought for some analysts that his stock has slipped slightly, for whatever reason. Fowler at 5 is a steal. He is definitely the best player available at this spot, though Gudbranson and Brandon Gormley are not far behind. Despite talk of Gormley being the most complete and smarter player, the skill that Fowler has already will be too good for them to pass up here.

So that's my take on the top 5 and what will happen up to our pick. I would not be upset with any of the top 3 defenseman putting on an Isles new road jersey tonight. I think many will agree with that, as well as with the idea that the first player will be a defenseman.

The Islanders have two picks each in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the draft, and could try to move up back into the first round to take someone they see falling who they have high on their draft board. I'm not sure for who or what. The Islanders are very high on centers Ryan Johansen and Alex Burmistrov, but I would be surprised if they are both there after the 10th pick. If they are we are getting into trade up territory, and the Islanders would be a team to watch.

Also, look for the Krill Kabanov nose dive. The winger was once touted as a top-3 pick for this draft, but when mid-season problems arose in Moncton, Kabanov went home to Russia to "prepare for the world junior championships." It was at those world juniors where Kabanov was stripped of this captaincy of Team Russia, which was then given to Islanders prospect Kirill Petrov. If Kabanov slips all the way to the 2nd round, keep an eye on him because some team will get one heck of a talent. The Islanders like him and have been talking to him. If he's there at 35, don't be surprised if they grab him if they haven't traded that pick by that point.

I'm very excited to announce that I will be a part of the media tonight at the draft party. I'm not sure how everything will work, or what kind of coverage I will have for you guys, but definitely keep checking here in the event that I will be real-time blogging the events (again, no promises). We'll see how this goes, it should be a lot of fun!

Enjoy the draft tonight, 7PM on Versus!


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