We conclude our Path to the Draft segment with a final look of the prospects that were drafted five years ago, 2012. This was an odd year for sure as Islanders general manager Garth Snow drafted all defenseman that year, but it turned out to have a bigger impact than most would have thought. All together, seven defenseman were selected and all but one have played at least in the AHL. Two players have seen the NHL, but that number is sure to go up. For this segment some players are ranked but the others will not be because they are no longer in the organization. So let’s review the draft class of 2012:
1. Griffin Reinhart 2. Ville Pokka 3. Adam Pelech 4. Loic Leduc 5. Doyle Somerby 6. Jesse Graham 7. Jake Bischoff
5. Doyle Somerby D 125th overall in 2012
4. Loic Leduc D 103rd overall in 2012
3. Jesse Graham D 155th overall in 2012
Somerby had four good years as a defensive defenseman and was named captain for the University of Boston (Kieffer Bellows old team). As of this writing, the Islanders have not extended a contract offer to Somerby, so Somerby does get the lowest ranking. However it’s possible he could sign an AHL deal with the Sound Tigers. As for Leduc and Graham, both have been playing in the ECHL and the AHL and since they’re restricted free agents this year, it will be interesting to see who stays and who will be released. Leduc gets the lower ranking than Graham because Leduc has spent most of his professional time in the ECHL, while the majority of Graham’s games are with the Sound Tigers. Of the two, Graham still has the better chance of being an AHL regular and maybe a call-up in case of an injury, something that former Islanders draft pick and former Sound Tigers captain Aaron Ness is now doing for the Hershey Bears and Washington Capitals. With the depth of the Islanders defense, it’ll certainly be a challenge for any of these players to make it to the big club.
Ville Pokka D 34th overall in 2012: Pokka was a very good pick for the Islanders, yet somehow if Sebastian Collberg (Thomas Vanek trade!!!) was not taken by Montreal in that draft, the Isles were going to take Collberg over Pokka since Collberg was a higher ranked prospect and Nick Leddy may not be on this team. Pokka was eventually traded along with Anders Nilsson in a salary dump move to Chicago for Nick Leddy right before the start of the 2014-15 season. By no means was Pokka a bad prospect. He’s played for team Finland and has won gold at the World Juniors and a silver at the World Championships. He’s racked up 105 points in 220 games for the Rockford Ice Dogs, Chicago’s AHL affiliate and with Trevor van Riemsdyk possibly being claimed by Vegas in a week or so, Pokka may finally see NHL time this year with the Hawks.
Griffin Reinhart D 4th overall in 2012: Not going to lie, I wanted the Isles to draft Reinhart in the worst way since they had past on Cam Fowler and Dougie Hamilton in previous drafts. After winning the Memorial Cup with the Oil Kings and playing in eight regular season games and one playoff game for the Isles, Reinhart was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the 15th and 33rd overall picks in 2015. Those picks (and an extra move into the lower first round) would turn out to be Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier. The question is still out there for Reinhart: Is he slowly developing or is he a career call-up? The Vegas Golden Knights could select Reinhart in the upcoming expansion draft and have that question answered.
2. Jake Bischoff D 185th overall in 2012: Bischoff was drafted out of Grand Rapids High School in Minnesota. After splitting time between high school and the USHL, Bischoff attended the University of Minnesota for four years, winning the Big Ten Conference once. The Islanders had given Bischoff a contract offer at the end of his junior year, but Bischoff decided to play his senior year and tore up the college teams racking up 32 points (5 goals) in 38 games. After his college career was over he quickly joined the Sound Tigers for six games and notched three points. So what do we have in Bischoff? He can produce points, but is also a very good shot blocker. Could he be another Calvin de Haan? Maybe. He could be faster than Calvin but not Devon Toews fast. Speaking of Devon, take the Toews approach and see how Bischoff plays for the Sound Tigers first, then we’ll be able to get a better idea as to the type of player he is. For now, I would see him as a top 4 for Bridgeport and a possible call-up over the next two years.
1. Adam Pelech D 65th overall in 2012: I had a few fans who asked me right before the 2015 draft about the possibility of Griffin Reinhart being traded. I had said no, because of Pelech. Adam Pelech has to be the quietest draft pick that I can remember. That’s because he keeps his game simple and that he goes out there and does his job without any flare. No 100 mph slap shot, no bone-crunching hits, just play defense and sprinkle in some offense when needed. He was Griffin Reinhart’s defensive pair at the World Junior Championship and in Bridgeport for the 2014-15 season. I honestly believed that they would come up as a pair, something like a possible Pulock-Toews combination. It’s because Pelech keeps his game simple, that when the Islanders have called him up, they were just looking for a good defensive game from him. Pelech has done that and then some. When drafted, Pelech had a ceiling of a top four defenseman. He could still be that defenseman this year, but this will be his first full season with the Islanders and fans will be able to discover what he’s really capable of. Nothing would surprise me if Pelech was one of the reasons for the Reinhart trade to occur. You had one defenseman slowly developing at the time, yet you had Pelech who’s game was simple enough that he was ready for the NHL quicker than most expected. Now it’s time to see where he stands in this organization.
So after five years of seeing what happened to this draft class, they were responsible for bringing in players like Nick Leddy, Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier while still developing a steady top four defenseman in Pelech and a possible call-up in Bischoff. This draft class was an example of selecting the “best-player-available” (at the time) because of what the Islanders received in return. We can also thank the Montreal Canadiens for selecting Sebastian Collberg before the Islanders did, the Edmonton Oilers for that trade who needed a defenseman and of course the Chicago Blackhawks for having cap management issues. I still see the Islanders sticking to the “best-player-available” route in this years draft and even though I had said I would write about 12 players, that number may in fact dwindle down to seven, just because the players that I was targeting for the number 15 spot have either moved up into the top 12 or they’ll be below 17. Also coming up, I’ll have my thoughts on the expansion draft, but that’ll occur after the Stanley Cup is over. Enjoy!!
In case you missed the others: