In recent history New York Islanders general manager, Lou Lamoriello, has traded away the last four first round picks, including this years 2023. Fans who have wanted the team to tear the core down and start over with a complete rebuild had hoped the Isles could trade away a few of the veterans at the trade deadline for picks in this draft that is still in debate as to how deep it really is. They also traded away their 3rd round pick in this years draft for soon-to-be- free agent, Pierre Engvall. Other than the obvious financial reason why the Islanders cannot go into a full rebuild and after going over the prospects again, I noticed that not only did the Islanders not lose any ground (so far) on trading away their first round picks, they’ve made it up by drafting players younger than the regular-aged draftees. First let’s start with the first round draft picks.
I’m expanding on the research I did in the What are the Odds article from last year on the value of all of the Islanders picks going back to 2008, the percentage of the players drafted making it to the NHL and the average amount of regular season games played by round. Why 2008? It’s when I first started blogging, and it was also the first year of Garth Snow’s rebuild campaign. Also take into account, most of those years were played at Nassau Coliseum, so developing prospects was not at a premium and rushing players to draw fans in to the old barn was the priority. Also take into account, most of these numbers will continue to improve the longer the drafted players are still with the organization.
First round players that were drafted have a 100% success rate at playing in the NHL and averaging 319 games, so right about 4 years.
Second round players have an 89% chance of averaging 70 games
Third rounders have a 30% chance of averaging 38 games…..huge problem here.
Fourth rounders have a 45% chance of averaging 64 games.
Fifth rounders have 30% chance of averaging 60 games.
Sixth rounders (mostly in part to Anders Lee and Alan Quine) have a 22% of averaging 60 games
Seventh rounders….None, as in no one.
So let’s take a look at the players the Islanders received for those first round picks:
JG Pageau has played 255 games, including the playoffs. If he’s not moved he would surpass the average of 319. So far so good.
Kyle Palmieri has played 166 games, including some clutch ones in the playoffs. A healthy season and another solid postseason from him can go a long way, but he may not make it to the average. Especially with Oliver Wahlstrom and Simon Holmstrom coming into their own.
Whatever the Isles lose in games with Palmieri, they’ll gain back with Alexander Romanov who already has 80 games played and is looking like a main stay at only 23 years old.
Bo Horvat just got started, but he’s signed through the next eight seasons, so bearing anything unfortunate, he should be able to play at least half of those seasons and it will still be better than what the Islanders have developed in years past.
If the Islanders can resign Pierre Engvall to any kind of deal, even a one-year, it’s a steal compared to what has happened with the past third rounders.
So how did the Lamoriello’s (Lou and asst GM, Chris) and their staff make up for losing those first round picks? Most regular-aged draftees turn 18 by late fall, or late winter, but since 2018 the Islanders have drafted nine players who played the majority of their draft season at the tender age of 17. For me growing up and playing/watching basketball this was like an NBA player forgoing his first draft year, stay in college and hope to get drafted at a higher round the next year for a bigger payday. It seems to be paying off for the Islanders have Ruslan Iskhakov, Simon Holmstrom, Calle Odelius, & Quinn Finley will at some point be NHLers in the near future with Wahlstrom looking to have a bigger role this upcoming season with the Islanders.
Throw in that Odelius (top 30), Raty (top 25) , & Isiah George (top 80 picked at 98), players with much higher rankings, fell into the Islanders lap on draft weekend, to go along with drafted players like Alex Jefferies, Cameron Berg, William Dufour and over-agers like Matthew Maggio the Islanders have capitalized making up those first rounders by bringing in players who may not be stars (yet), but will certainly be able to contribute to the big club at some point.
There’s no doubt that trading away first rounders is not easy and it is always a game of chance when you do have them. In my opinion, the Islanders will survive trading away these last four first rounders, but what needs to improve moving forward are picks 3-7. The old core of this group can only sugar coat the numbers for so long and if the Islanders don’t continue to do their due diligence on daft weekend, they will end up losing a lot more than just a playoff berth and many fans will be back to “What if…..” when looking back at this time period in Islanders history.