The Draft is history, and the Islanders did what they should have done.
John Tavares' name was spoken by Garth Snow sending the 11,000 plus fans in attendance at the draft party into a frenzy.
We as fans knew it was the right move.
The Islander brass, for once agreed.
The 2009 draft also saw the Islanders trade up twice to draft Oshawa Generals defenseman Calvin de Haan at number 12. Snow passed on more highly touted defenseman John Moore, who fell to 21 (CLB) and Dmitry Kulikov who was plucked at 14 by the Panthers.
The one that may have gotten away however is 6'3" power forward Zack Kassian, who was selected 14th to Buffalo.
I was surprised as you can be with the Islanders when Snow selected De Haan, who projects as a 2-4 year project before he gets to the NHL.
Then I was more surprised when his next 2 picks were goaltenders. Mikko Koskinen of Finland projects as a possible franchise goaltender, but again he is a project, and why draft a goaltender or two when you have one under contract for the next 12 years?
Turning to the NHL Free Agency period and looking ahead to this season, there is a real opportunity for the Islanders to improve themselves dramatically this off season if they are so inclined.
Should I go into the myriad of reasons the Islanders should try and sign Jay Bouwmeester if he is available tonight? Calgary would be foolish to let him get the free agency, but stranger things have happened. He is 25 years old and just coming into his own. He could be an elite NHL defenseman for the next 10 seasons, which is exactly the contract length I would offer up.
One pipe dream scenario would have the Islanders try and sign Daniel and Henrik Sedin. They are still young at 28, and have really come into their own the last 3 seasons. They are asking Henrik Zetterberg type money and years, which is patently insane, but maybe 8 years at 42 million apiece gets it done.
Will the Islanders even consider any of the above?
Absolutely not, even though they should with Bouwmeester. Lets have a look at some free agents that may be of interest.
Donald Brashear - He is 37 years old now, but can still go and commands respect. You sign him to a one year deal and tell him - "If anyone touches John Tavares, you know what to do."
Mitch Fritz - We need toughness. He cant skate but he sure as hell can fight.
Trevor Gillies - Just because hes the son of the Islander legend should be enough.
Micheal Komisarek - His troubles last year aside the local guy us a good defensive defenseman, and still young at 27.
Andrew Raycroft - The Islanders need a backup goaltender that can handle starting minutes for when... oops, If DiPietro gets injured again. Raycroft has had success in the NHL and is still relatively young at 29.
Todd Bertuzzi - He has a few things the Islanders need. Size, scoring touch and an attitude.
Chris Niel - He has everything the Islanders need other than goal scoring ability. He will defend teammates and can skate. Think of Richard Park with a tough edge. The fans adore him in Ottawa so I can't see him leaving there but Snow should be calling his agent.
It remains to be seen if the Islanders will play at all in the free agent market. I think they should push heavy for Bouwmeester but the Flames will likely re-sign him and if they do not, he will be courted by at least a dozen teams ready to win now. The Islanders are still a couple if years away, but if Bouwmeester has any foresight he could be a cornerstone of something special on the Island. 10 years and 68 million wouldn't hurt the Islanders case though.
Let me know your thoughts on who the Islanders should or will target in the free agent market.