Michael Dal Colle, the New York Islanders fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft still hasn’t been able to crack the NHL squad. It’s been four years since he’s been drafted. This isn’t about size.
At the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders took Michael Dal Colle fifth overall. His pedigree coming into the draft was sky high. It made sense to take Michael Dal Colle fifth overall at the time.
Dal Colle had 143 points in 130 AHL games with the Oshawa Generals int he two years before his draft. Including a 95 point season in his draft year. Again, it absolutely made sense to draft Dal Colle at number five. I’d rather see Garth Snow take the best available player rather than trying to address some sort of immediate need.
But I keep hearing that it’s harder for guys with bigger bodies to make it to the NHL. They take longer to develop than the smaller guys. As if that’s some sort of rationale as to why the Isles fifth-round pick from four drafts ago has yet to make the NHL.
Looking Back At Other Drafts
I find it hard to believe that size has anything to do with a player’s ability to make the NHL. Or that bigger bodies take longer to get NHL ready. But I thought I’d at least try to see what history has to say on the subject.
How many “large bodies” have made the NHL around when Dal Colle was drafted? Is Dal Colle the only “big” player that has yet to make the league since he was drafted?
First things first, I want to address Dal Colle’s size. He isn’t particularly large. He isn’t small either, but at 6’2″ he’s a little over average size. Joshua Weissbock looked at the heights between the CHL and the NHL and it seemed that the average NHL player was 73 inches, or just under 6’1″.
What I wanted to do is a test to see if oversized players, specifically forwards took longer to get to the NHL. To do that I looked at the top ten players drafted from 2012 to 2016 for players that were actually larger than Dal Colle. Guys who were 6’3″ or taller.
These would all be players with the same type of pedigree as Dal Colle coming into the draft, played the same position (as forwards) and were all taller than he was. I found ten players that fit the bill.
There’s at least a single notable exception here and that’s Auston Matthews. I think we all knew that Matthews was going to be a special player. So take him out of the equation. That leaves nine players that fit the bill.
Three players made their NHL teams a year after being drafted. Five players (we’re excluding Matthews) played the very next season with their NHL clubs. And outside of Dal Colle, only Dylan Strome has yet to play a full season in the NHL.
Four players were drafted later in their respective drafts than Dal Colle (Monahan, Nichushkin, Zacaha and Rantanen) and are playing, and more importantly, contributing in the NHL.
Want your voice heard? Join the Eyes On Isles team!
All of this isn’t to prove that Dal Colle is a bust. It’s to show that size isn’t the issue when it comes to Dal Colle making the NHL. It’s likely a combination of factors, the primary factor being his level of play. Plain and simple Dal Colle hasn’t done enough to merit an NHL position.
There’s also the fact that better players have emerged in the New York Islanders system. If he was playing in say Colorado or Buffalo he might just be playing in the NHL at the moment.
Either of those teams has little in the way of competition for roster spots. If you got a pulse you get a roster spot.
But for the New York Islanders, there’s Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Ho-Sang and Mathew Barzal that deserved spots in the NHL. That’s a quarter of the Islanders forward core. It leaves little room for a player that’s been honestly “OK” at the AHL level to make the team.