June 25, 2011

Isles Take Strome 5th Overall

Over the past couple of seasons, the Islanders have made no secret of the fact that they wanted to add some more skill up the middle. On Friday night, they took a huge step forward in accomplishing that goal.

After missing out on Ryan Johansen at last years draft when they ended up taking Nino Niederreiter, the Islanders had their choice of a couple of centers in 2011. Many fans seemed split on whether they wanted Sean Couturier or Ryan Strome.

As many of you know by now, I was a big fan of Couturier's and wanted the Isles to select him. But in the weeks leading up to the draft as we learned more about Strome, I was warming up to the idea. It seems like the Isles did as well.

Strome fits a need of what the Isles are looking for. They wanted to add that skill, but in Strome they also add some speed and a great style. Strome is a guy who isn't afraid to cut to the net, and by many accounts is as far from a perimeter player as you can get which is remarkable when you consider he isn't the biggest guy out there.

Knowing that, it definitely puts some more attention into Josh Bailey's corner. While his primary position is center, Bailey has also spent some time at the wing. The Islanders need to decide if they prefer to have Bailey at center or wing, and at the same time Bailey needs to step up a bit and prove that he can play anywhere at any time. He's now going to have Strome breathing down his neck for that 2nd line center spot for sure in the future.

When it comes to analyzing some of these guys that we may not know much about, we usually always rely on scouts. While that is obviously one of the better means, it's also good to hear from analysts who watch him more regularly.

Enter Jeff Marek. In the end, he really sold me on the idea of Strome.

Marek, an analyst/radio host for Hockey Night in Canada, sang the praises last season of Jeff Skinner. I'll have to be honest - as much as people pointed that out, I didn't listen because I was too enthralled with what the "scouts" had to say.

Last week in an interview with Chris Botta, Marek sang the praises of Strome. He even went as far to say the Islanders hit a "home run" with their selection after they made the pick.

I really like the pick of Strome because it helps to solve some of the issues that this team has up the middle. We all love Frans Nielsen and how he plays, but in a perfect world he is centering a 3rd line. Strome has the ceiling to center one of the top two lines, but given the fact John Tavares is a center and should remain there will make for an excellent second line pivot.

Some folks were upset in not grabbing a defenseman, but I'm fine with leaving Dougie Hamilton on the board. The defenseman I really wanted was Adam Larsson, and do think that if he slipped past the Devils at 4th then Snow would have taken him.

The Islanders will have some chances to get some solid, big defenseman in the second and third rounds at the beginning of day two (11 AM ET). Look for Scott Mayfield as a potential target. He's a big, nasty defenseman who spent last season in the USHL. The Islanders have gone down the USHL pipeline before and have picked out a couple of solid guys (Kyle Okposo and Matt Donovan to name a couple).

We got some great video footage last night, and have put up some of the clips from last night on our YouTube page. We have a couple of more that will be uploaded as the day goes on so be sure to check for those. We're also going through some of the photos we took to put into a photo gallery. We hope to have that up for our draft round-up post.

Be sure to check back later for any possible big news in Isles Country.



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