With the NHL now cancelling games up until October 24th, I think now is a good time to write why I believe a short lockout is beneficial, if not crucial to the Islanders as an organization. Don’t get me wrong, I want the NHL back in the worst way. I’m just not in any hurry to see prospects like Nino Niederreiter and yes Travis Hamonic back in the NHL just yet. I’m a fan that believes teams should build and win through the draft. The Islanders did it twice. The first time the Islanders built through the draft, they had themselves a dynasty that will always be remembered. It’s the second time that I would like to write about with a little more detail.
The years I’m going to discuss will be from 1989-1994. The original dynasty was coming to an end and younger talent was needed once again. In that time span the Islanders had drafted names like Palffy, Bertuzzi, Green, and Armstrong on the offense and Kasparatis, Lachance, McCabe, Malakhov, Luckowich for the defense. They had McLennan and Salo as future goaltenders in that time span as well. Some of these players were involved in 1993 with the great playoff run and the dethroning of the Cup winning Penguins and in 1994 when they barely made the playoffs, only to be slaughtered by the Edmon….I mean the New York Rangers.
But it’s what could have been in 1995. Play along here. For this article, in 1995, think about having a stable ownership and a GM who still believed in building through the draft. Entering 1995 some of these drafted players were already playing for the Islanders. Again, for this article, you’re still keeping Turgeon, Malakhov, Ferraro, Hogue and McInnis (Maybe Thomas if you’re lucky) beyond 1995. No Kirk Muller, no Eric Fichaud, no Mathieu Schneider and no drafting 2nd overall in 1995 etc. The drafted players would have gained the development and experience needed to keep the Islanders a threat. Would the Islanders have been competitive through the 90’s? No question. Would the Islanders have been a laughing stock and always picking in the lottery in those years? Nope. Could they have won a Cup? Who knows, but there would not have been a logo change.
What’s my point? Folks, I’ll be honest, after the last five straight years of drafting, I don’t think this fan base have seen this much talented prospects since 1989-1994. Don’t get me wrong some of those names I mentioned above had average careers at best, but for those who had been around, and watched, you know if some of those other names had stuck around, the Islanders wouldn’t had been in such disarray. The Islanders are now known for having a decent team with a great crop of prospects. Everyone is just waiting for that breakout year. It could begin with the right and ready prospect.
The new waves of prospects are now in Bridgeport where they belong. Because of the lockout the AHL has better, younger, and more skilled NHLers which will benefit all the players. If you look at teams like Pittsburgh, Washington, New Jersey, they win through good drafting and developing its young core players. It’s time for the Islanders to do the same from here on out. No more rushing players like Bailey, Nino etc. If these players are developed properly, there is no doubt in my mind that the younger generation of Islanders fans are going to witness something that has not been seen on Long Island in almost 30 years because I believe these prospects of 2008-12 are going to be better than the prospects 1989-1994. Having said that, go out and support the Sound Tigers this year, with or without the NHL.