Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Islander Draft Look

Ryan Pulock (Medicine Hat Tigers)
I have to admit that I wasn't planning on writing up a report on the New York Islander prospects in large part due to some Islander bloggers who if I dared said a negative word about an Islander prospect would rant about my Ranger loyalty. It also didn't help that the Islanders chose to trade Nino Niederreiter to Minnesota for a draft pick and Cal Clutterback in a deal that ended the Islander's total bungling of Niederreiter's development.

I have to admit that the one area where many NHL teams fail is in how they manage developing their prospects and part of that admission comes with a frustration as to why this happens more often than not. Yes there are cases where a prospect doesn't live up to his draft hype but in most cases the drafting team is at fault.

Ryan Pulock to many an Islander fan may not make much sense now given a wealth of defensive prospects that the Islanders already have in the system. In fact I had the Islanders selecting center Curtis Lazar of Edmonton but Pulock makes sense when you are looking for offense from the blueline. Pulock should develop into the Islander's power play quarterback as while most want to rave about his lethal shot, I like his hockey IQ and his ability to create.

Mature beyond his years, Pulock doesn't let things get to him and will make the right play even under pressure. His passing skills are first rate as is his ability to read the ice before making a play. He might have gone higher in the draft if his Brandon Wheat Kings had made the WHL playoffs this past season (not his fault).

Not the biggest dog in the yard especially considering how many big defenders the Islanders have among their prospects, Pulock won't take a backseat to any of them. Pulock is 6'1 211 and while he isn't a big physical player, Pulock won't let anyone push him around.

I have to admit the Islanders made 2 picks in the 3rd round that made me wonder first selecting Eamon McAdam over his teammate Calvin Petersen in the 3rd round had me head scratching for a few. McAdam is a good positional goalie but I think in the long run Petersen would have been the better pick (of course Petersen wasn't picked until the 5th round). McAdam will be heading to Penn State as they start their hockey program so McAdam will get plenty of work in a hurry.

I would have liked to see McAdam go to a more established program but I do admire that he is jumping in at Penn State with both feet so I think he will be the better for it. Right now I can see him as an NHL backup not a starter.

The 2nd pick was Taylor Cammarata who was the teammate of McAdam at Waterloo of the USHL. Go right ahead and rave about the numbers Cammarata has put up everywhere he has played but realize he is a small 5'7 156 and is a rare small player who doesn't have blazing speed with his skating. I normally don't knock smallish players but after the New York Rangers traded Christian Thomas on Tuesday, there remains the NHL's belief that the smaller you are the less likely you will make it as an NHLer.

Is it fair? No of course it isn't but in the case of Cammarata, the main knock on him is unlike other smaller players he doesn't handle the physical play well as all. I just don't see an NHL future for him at all but I will get to watch plenty of him as he joins Islander prospect Jake Bischoff and Ranger prospect Brady Skjei at Minnesota. I will be very glad to be proven wrong on Cammarata but I don't see it today.

The Islander's 4th round pick goalie Stephon Williams on the other hand could be the steal of the Islander draft. The 20 year old William just finished his freshman season at Minnesota State where he earned First Team WCHA honors off a 21-12-2 season. The WCHA Rookie of the Year Williams is actually better known for a save he made while playing for Waterloo of the USHL where he lost his glove and made the save with his bare hand.

If you haven't seen it then here is it is

I think Williams has a better NHL future than McAdam and it is hard to not like this pick given that it is a 4th round and the Islanders are looking at a player who as a freshman was the best goalie in a very good league. The only question is how will William top his freshman year?

I won't even claim to know a thing about the 5th round pick center Viktor Crus-Rydberg so I will link you to Elite Prospects who does offer a bit of a scouting report. The Islander's 6th round pick was a prospect who fell back into the draft after his original team chose not to sign him in Alan Quine.

Quine was originally a 3rd round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2011 NHL Draft and I have to admit that I am not a fan of Quine in part because he was a member of the Peterborough Petes and that was once royally screwed up franchise. Quine is a smallish forward who's strength is his skating but I don't project him as a NHLer in part because he wasn't strong on the defensive end of the game.

Still can't fault the Islanders for using a 6th on a player who re-entered the draft.

The Islander's final pick was Kyle Boroughs who is a 5'11 182 lb defender for the Regina Pats of the WHL. Boroughs earned his selection off a strong 2nd half where he worked his way up the rankings due to injuries on his team. Boroughs is just 17 and was an alternate captain for Regina which alone speaks a lot about his maturity at 17.

This is a good gamble pick because Boroughs got a ton of ice time this season and was force-fed going up against the other team's best players night after night. I liked how Boroughs despite his size standing up for himself and his teammates.

Boroughs was used on both special teams and earned the nod as Regina's top defenseman in his 2nd season with the Pats. Not a bad way to use a 7th round pick as the Islanders could wind up with another defenseman.

Overall I thought the Islanders did well with the selections of Pulock, Williams and Boroughs but not so well with the picks of McAdam and Cammarata. The pick of Quine wasn't a bad pick for a 6th but I don't see him panning out. It was a good job by the Islanders.

Ranger trade

The Rangers swapped prospects with the Montreal Canadians sending 2010 2nd round pick Christian Thomas for Danny Kristo who was Montreal's 2008 2nd round pick. The Ranger's trade a smallish prospect for a somewhat bigger smallish forward. What to think of this deal is it seems the Rangers are playing the hindsight game here and now regret taking so many smaller prospects.

The Canadians I have to wonder why they would move Kristo as it can't possibly be an incident while Kristo was with North Dakota in 2012 where Kristo was suspended for his role in a suspected hazing incident.

Talent wise I think the deal is a wash as Thomas if he wasn't as small as he is would not have any questions about his potential while Kristo would not have the baggage regarding his character. I have to admit this one is a strange out of nowhere trade but I suppose now one can claim being a Ranger 2nd round pick is no longer a safe spot.

Michael Sauer (2005) cut loose because of injuries, Artem Anisimov (2006) traded away, Antoine LaFleur (2007) not signed, Ethan Werek (2009) traded, and Christian Thomas (2010) traded. Only Derek Stepan remains a Ranger and trying to explain this is really hard to do.

It makes one wonder.

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