Uniondale, NY–This past Sunday afternoon saw the New York Islanders add another defenseman to their organization. Ryan Pulock, who boasts the hardest shot in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, was selected by New York with the 15th-overall pick.
This was a great choice made by Garth Snow, in my opinion, but there are many who will disagree all summer long. As of the last few days I’ve heard rumblings from Isles country, asking why GM Snow went without a forward in a year that saw an abundance of overly talented and equally available, offensive prospects.
Islanders’ fans confused as to why their team selected a defenseman in the first round for the second consecutive season (and with their eighth straight draft selection) should ask themselves if they haven’t complained as of late about the lack of quality, NHL-level defensemen. If the answer is yes, then stop and think about this pick a bit more. I say this because the Islanders will most likely not be adding a top-defenseman into the mix for the 2013-14 season, and not for a lack of trying, mind you, but because they aren’t to be had.
Top defensemen in the NHL aren’t made readily available around the league, simply because they are so rare. Seriously, count them. How many defensemen do you actually consider a “top” defender in today’s NHL – maybe a grand total of six?
Zdeno Chara, PK Subban, Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Erik Karlsson, and Kris Letang are probably the NHL’s top-defensemen. Outside of Chara (sorry, Isles’ fans), does anyone notice a trend? All of the NHL’s best defensemen are developed from within the organization that drafted them, because again, they aren’t easily let go of, and once you find one, it’s extremely difficult to let them go.
The Islanders, or any other team for that matter, aren’t finding a top-pairing defenseman this offseason. Sure, they may find one that can help them out in 2013-14, but a premiere NHL defenseman? Not quite, unless you think Rob Scuderi fits the bill…
By selecting Ryan Pulock with the 15th-overall pick in 2013 to go along with their selection of Griffin Reinhart with the 4th-overall pick in 2012, the Islanders are creating a light at the end of a tunnel that has had them scrambling for top-defensive help since the 2004-05 lockout. There is no certainty that these prospects develop into what the Islanders hope they become, but it’s the best chance they have at getting that blue-line cornerstone for the long-term.
What the Islanders did on Draft Day is nothing unusual. A defense worth having is one built developed from within, and the Islanders are giving it their best shot at finding the key pieces they can build around for the future. Free agents like Rob Scuderi and Andrew Ference are nice, but they are meant to serve as complementary pieces to the type of player Ryan Pulock is expected to become.
The rebuild isn’t over, but the Islanders have their core structure set. Now, we wait and hope the Islanders got it right. If they do, we won’t have to go into the summer, shopping for the impossible.