New York Islanders Turbulent History with NHL Expansion Draft
1972: The Beginning
The 1972 NHL draft was the Islanders first dip into the NHL. With only 14 teams in the league at the time, both the Islanders and fellow newcomer Atlanta Flames could select three players from each team.
With the second overall pick, they took goaltender Gerry Desjardin from the Blackhawks. A solid pick. In the 1970-71 season, he put up an impressive 2.42 GAA in 22 games played. He would play 80 games over two seasons for the New York Islanders before their next pick would usurp him.
With their second and fourth overall pick, the New York Islanders draft third string goalie Billy Smith for the Los Angeles Kings. They already had Reggie Vachon and Gary Edwards.
Billy Smith would go on to play with the Islanders for17 years playing 675 games and recording 3.16 GAA and .882 SV%. But more importantly, he’d help the Islanders establish a modern day dynasty winning four back-to-back Stanley Cups.
Along with Smith, the Islanders selected Ed Westfall ninth overall from the Boston Bruins. The known leader and eleven-year veteran continued by being the Islanders first captain. Keeping the ‘C’ for five seasons. Ed Westfall was there for the tough years and retired just before the Islanders consolidated their power in the NHL.