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Editorials

New York Islanders Cloudy History in NHL Draft Lottery Era

NEW YORK - JULY 22: National Hockey League Executive Vice President Bill Daly (L) presides over the NHL draft lottery with Joe Crotty (C) of Ernst
NEW YORK - JULY 22: National Hockey League Executive Vice President Bill Daly (L) presides over the NHL draft lottery with Joe Crotty (C) of Ernst
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MONTREAL, QC – JUNE 26: John Tavares poses for a portrait after being picked number one overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islander at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC – JUNE 26: John Tavares poses for a portrait after being picked number one overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islander at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Tavares/Rebuild Era

The Islanders History Within the “Era”:
2009: 48.2% chance, drafted 1 (John Tavares) Finished 30th in NHL 26-47-9
2010: 8.1% chance, drafted 5 (Nino Niederreiter) Finished 26th in NHL 34-37-11
2011: 10.7% chance, drafted 5 (Ryan Strome) Finished 27th in NHL 30-39-13
2012: 10.7% chance, drafted 4 (Griffin Reinhart) Finished 27th in NHL 34-37-11

Through 2009 and 2012 the New York Islanders didn’t make the playoffs once. Not once. In all four years in question, they ranked no higher than 26th. Their combined record from the 2008-2009 season to the 2011-2012 season was a terrible 124-160-44 or a 38 percent win percentage.
It was bad, really bad. Some really dark times. Except when it came to the lottery.

In 2009, with an amazing tank friendly 48.2 percent chance, the New York Islanders drafted John Tavares first overall. The first player to gain exceptional status by the OHL. In junior Tavares dominated by putting up 433 points in 247 games. It’s like those YouTube videos of a single professional soccer player against 100 kids. Tavares dominated in every sense.

Even with Tavares, for the next three years, the Islanders put up NHL basement worthy records. They didn’t win any of the subsequent drafts even with an average 9.8 percent chance at picking first. Instead, the Islanders picked fifth in 2010 (Nino Niederreiter), fifth in 2011 (Ryan Strome), and fourth in 2012 (Griffin Reinhart).

None of these players are on the team today, some six seasons later. And only one of them played significant time with the Islanders.

That was the window of the Islanders rebuild. With those four top-five draft pick the Islanders should have been in a comfortable position to make waves in the NHL for years. They followed the “be bad for a few years, draft high, don’t be bad anymore” model, but are still bad five years after the window on this era closed.

And it’s not like they were better in the following era, between 2013 and 2017.

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