In the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders had four first round picks on the board. The four picks they selected didn’t stay long and didn’t make an impact. A total bust. Here’s looking back.
It’s not often that an NHL team gets four first round picks and whiff on every single one of them. The New York Islanders did just that in 1999.
The 1998-99 New York Islanders finished with just 58 points. Only the Tampa Bay Lightning were worse with 47 points.
It was the fifth year in a row that the Islanders had missed the playoffs. A change was clearly needed. So Isles GM Mike Milbury traded away some of his valuable veteran players in order to refresh and rebuild from the draft.
He also needed to clear som salary. Thanks to then owners Milstein and Glukstein not wanting to spend enough to support a proper NHL squad. Instead, giving GM Milbury a meager budget to put a team together.
So out went team captain Trevor Linden, to the Canadiens, and fan favorite Zigmund Palffy, to the Kings, just ahead of the 1999 draft. Both fetched first round picks in that year’s draft.
Linden returned Montreal’s first round and eighth overall pick, Palffy returned the King’s tenth overall pick. The Isles already controlled the fifth overall pick, thanks to their terrible season. The last and fourth pick came on draft day with two second round picks going to Dallas for their 28th overall selection. So that makes four.
New York Islanders
How They Panned Out
The 1999 draft was supposed to be this talent filled pool of superstar talent. But outside of the Sedin twins, taken at numbers two and three, the third best player in the draft was Henrik Zetterberg taken at number 210 in the seventh round.
Tim Connolly was perhaps the most successful of the bunch with the Islanders. Even saying that is a bit of a stretch. The Syracuse native played two seasons with the Islanders before being shipped off to Buffalo with Taylor Pyatt for the rights to Michael Peca.
In those two seasons with the Islanders, Connolly put up 75 points and even got some Calder love with a single fourth place vote.
Taylor Pyatt the Isles second and eighth overall pick that year, packaged to Buffalo with Connolly for Peca’s rights, played a single season with the Isles scoring 18 points.
Defenceman Branislav Mezei played two years with the Isles and put up seven points. In his last season with the Islanders, he averaged just over eight minutes of ice time. He was traded to the Panthers for Jason Weimer.
Six foot seven defender Kristian Kudroc would never play for the Islanders. A year later he was packaged alongside Kevin Weeks and the Isles 2001 second round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for their first, fourth and seventh round pick in the 2000 draft. Where the Isles drafted Raffi Torres.
Why It Was A Disaster
The idea behind amassing these four first round picks was to get rid of expensive veterans for cheaper and potentially better youth players. Rebuild the team from the draft.
All four picks were a bust. Ok. Maybe Connolly was alright, but he wasn’t a franchise altering player. His best years were spent with the Sabres, wherein 2009-10 he put up 65 points. But the other three total busts.
After the 1999 draft, the Islanders missed the playoffs and actually fared worse, with a 57 point season in 1999-00 and a 52 point season in 2000-01.
The Isles got burned and abandoned building from the draft instead selling young assets and draft picks for veteran NHL players. Like the trade to acquire Peca’s rights from Buffalo. And that trade with the Senators in 2001.