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New York Islanders Sacrifice First-Round Pick in Expansion

Christopher Lizza
May 31, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA: General overall view of the T-Mobile Arena exterior on Las Vegas Blvd. on the Las Vegas strip. The facility will be the home of the NHL expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights which will begin play during the 2017-18 season. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
May 31, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA: General overall view of the T-Mobile Arena exterior on Las Vegas Blvd. on the Las Vegas strip. The facility will be the home of the NHL expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights which will begin play during the 2017-18 season. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New York Islanders survived the expansion draft. While they did not lose a valuable player for either now or the future it did come at a cost. The Islanders sacrificed their 2017 first-round pick and then some in the NHL Expansion Draft.

The New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow found himself in a big predicament as the expansion draft was closing in. He had far too many players to protect for expansion. It looked like a very bad scenario for the former goaltender and the Isles organization.

Expansion Rules

The expansion rules hurt teams that had the deepest organizations. The Islanders fell in that category. In addition to their NHL roster, the Isles had to also worry about protecting both Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech.

Based on the players potentially to be exposed Snow did not want to lose nine forwards and six defensemen. He couldn’t protect them all.

Snow was unable to move any of his depth from last summer forward. This left the Isles GM and the organization in a big expansion pickle.

New York Islanders

2017 First-Round Sacrifice

Snow must have felt it was that scene from the 2012 movie Argo when they say: “There are only bad options, it’s about finding the best one”.

With that in mind, Snow called George McPhee, the former member of Islanders front office (was with Isles the two years prior to going to Vegas) and negotiated a trade deal that could work for both.

The premise was the Islanders would dictate what player the Vegas Golden Knights take in expansion, as well as take on Mikhail Grabovski’s contract (1 year left $5 million cap hit) and the Isles would sacrifice their 2017 first-round pick which is 15th overall.

Having just completed a mock draft for the Vegas Hockey Podcast and picking for the Islanders at number 15, take it to the bank there were be a really good player on the board at number 15. In fact, there will be at least a half dozen of good players to choose from with that selection.

The deal also included Jake Bischoff and a 2019 second round pick. A fair price for a cap dump and some preventative measures.

Sacrifice Makes Sense

While this year’s draft class is not on the level of the last two years, come Friday night the at the 15th pick the Isles will feel some pain of trading that selection away.

However, given all the givens this was the best option. The Islanders protected their players by losing J.F. Berube in expansion as opposed to someone else.

In addition, the Islanders prospect pipeline is loaded. Even with Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang arriving last season, there is a bunch more on their way to the Islanders very soon. This is a big area of strength for the organization and the Isles are in a position where they could sacrifice this year’s 15th overall pick.

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Not an ideal way to use one’s first-round pick but for the Islanders it actually makes sense. Now Garth needs to go out and land a couple of top forwards to add to this roster.

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