New York Islanders: What If They Drafted Erik Karlsson Over Josh Bailey

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 25: Erik Karlsson
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 25: Erik Karlsson /

In the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders selected Josh Bailey with the ninth overall pick. What if they went off the board a bit and selected Swedish defenseman, Erik Karlsson, instead?

In 2008 the New York Islanders used their first round pick to take Josh Bailey from the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. With the fifteenth pick, the Ottawa Senators picked from Frolunda JR. Erik Karlsson.

One would go to be maligned by his team’s fan base. The other would be absolutely revered by his fan base and the league in general.

What if the New York Islanders had drafted the latter rather than the former? What if they’d drafted Erik Karlsson instead of Josh Bailey? What if Isles fans got their do over with Josh Bailey right from day one and got someone different like Karlsson? How would things look now?

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Would It Have Even Been Possible?

Good question, me. The answer is yes. In the final NHL central scouting reports Josh Bailey was ranked 14th amongst North American skaters. While Erik Karlsson was ranked fourth amongst “International” skaters.

Everyone knew that Karlsson had put up 37 points in 38 games playing for the Frolunda U20 team. Not the single point in seven games with Frolunda’s senior squad.

Compare that to the defenders taking before him, such as Colten Teubert (23 points in 66 games), Tyler Myers (19 points in 66 games -then again he’s a giant…so…). Or how about Luke Schenn who was taken fifth overall by the Maple Leafs. He had 28 points in 56 games. And he’s not a giant.

European scouting was well developed by now. Teams were able to get a sense of what these players were like. Why Karlsson went 15th is a question the Ottawa Senators were probably wondering as they walked up to the podium to announce their pick.

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Jumping to grab the highest rated European defender in the draft rather than Josh Bailey would have made sense. Nashville and Phoenix both passed on Bailey and his second ranked 96 points to take Colin Wilson and Mikkel Boedker respectively.

Drastically Different

In this thought experiment, it’s important to know that I’m assuming Karlsson and Bailey’s careers take the exact same trajectory. They just wear different jerseys.

That includes when they actually started playing in the NHL. Because that would have made a difference for the New York Islanders.

Erik Karlsson didn’t start playing in the NHL until the 2009-10 season. The same year as John Tavares. That means the New York Islanders would not have had Karlsson to ruin their terrible last place 61 points 2008-09 season.

That means their odds in drafted 1st overall in 2009 and taking John Tavares wouldn’t be tarnished. Think of that Tavares and Erik Karlsson to start the 2009-10 season.

Next: Over/Under on Greiss Winning 28 Games?

With a number one center and a number one defender, the New York Islanders are in great shape to push up the standings and into the playoffs much earlier than they’ve done in all actuality.