This is not going to be pleasant. I have just returned from Nassau Coliseum expecting to see something I have not seen the Islanders do in a LONG time. The Islanders do something right. Everyone wonders why the team has struggled in attendance, cant hold onto or lure big ticket free agents, cant ever finish an NHL season with the prospect of being an NHL team who MAKES the right decisions DOOR MAT. Lets face it people. The first round of this deepest NHL draft in years has ended with our New York Islanders drafting the 15th highest ranked player according to Central Scouting. Nothing against Joshua Bailey because I hope he turns out to be great player for the Islanders and makes us all eat a tremendous pile of crow. My problem is that you had the 2nd highest rated skater in Nikita Filatov in your hands. It was done. Then the dreaded words everyone did not want to hear at that point when maligned and hated Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement that there was a trade. Excuse me... WHAT? The Leafs handed the Islanders 2 picks and swapped positions with Toronto, much to the delight of everyone on TSN and in the Toronto area. (I cannot stomach TSN when The Leafs do something because they acted like the Leafs got the incarnate version of God himself on their team) Toronto picked Luke Schenn. Well ok.. we are at 7 now all that has to happen is Columbus doesn't pick Filatov and then we got 2 picks for basically nothing. BOOM. Filatov is picked by Columbus clearing out half of the Coliseum draft party patrons who were just aching to cheer for the sight of Filatov in Islander colors. Well I thought thats ok because there are still 3 outstanding Center prospects left in Colin Wilson, Cody Hodgson and Kyle Beach. Surely at 7 we will get one of them. Right?
Oh My God... The Islanders clear out another half of their draft party by trading down AGAIN to 9 which in my mind is a very good move after making a terrible move trading down the first time. There goes Colin Wilson to Nashville at 7. So much for that theory. Mikkel Boedker goes to Phoenix at 8. He may be as talented as Filatov, and after aquiring Olli Jokinen the Yotes are looking strong for next season. Snow is finally at the podium. Please pick Kyle Beach... of not pick Cody Hodgson. Snow gets up there and picks Josh Bailey. Now dont get me wrong here I have done a bit of reading on the kid and by all accounts he could even play on the Islanders next season. Heres the "but" BUT... Bailey was rated the 15th best player in North America and Snow took him at 9. I really hope this draft is as deep as the Flemish Cap because all Snow did was get more second round picks. Think of it this way - You could have had the 2nd best forward int he draft, but you chose to take the 15th. Great. The bottom line is Snow had better hope that Filatov winds up being the next Sergei Samsonov, and not the next Ilya Kovalchuck.
I said in my column yesterday that if all went as planned and the first 5 picks went as all of the experts had predicted, Filatov would be an Islander. I also said that nothing surrounding the Islanders is ever ordinary other than the talent on the ice. The New York Islanders are currently the NHL punch line. The NHL joke. Every step forward the team has taken over the last 25 years has been met with 3 steps back. Columbus had to laughing their collective tails off when the Islanders traded that pick as they velcroed Filatov's name on their jersey. The Islanders are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel in every capacity from ownership on down. Snow said they would take the best player when 5 came up and what happened? It seems like they are constantly coming up with ways to self destruct, implode and piss off their fan base and they have done that once again by from all accounts blowing another chance at a player that would have put some more people in those empty seats on game nights and bring some excitement back to the old barn. Maybe Josh Bailey and Snow's other 3 new second round picks can do that. The only problem is it will take a few years to find out and judging from the reaction of just about everyone in the arena tonight, they are done waiting.
The Islanders have tested ALL of our devotion to the franchise with horrible move after horrible move. With embarrassment after embarrassment, the franchise has devolved from a dynasty to the laughing stock of the league and after nights like this its not hard to see why. I would love to see my fellow "look forward and not back" Blog Boxers try and put a positive spin on this one. Sorry, but there is not positive spin to this one. This is one mistake that will earn its spot right next to the many other missed opportunities and superstar players around the NHL that either used to be or could have been New York Islanders.
In other news - 2 superstar forwards changed teams today. Mike Camellari and Olli Jokinen were traded. I am sure Snow inquired at some point about what it would take to land either of them, aren't you?
I hope I haven't ended my Blog Box affiliation with this column because right now its how I feel and judging by what I saw at the Coliseum I am in the majority and this, after all is The Voice of the Islander Fans.