New York Islanders Options at Eleven and Twelve in 2018 NHL Draft

By Christopher Lizza
GATINEAU, CANADA - DECEMBER 1: Joe Veleno #9 of the Saint John Sea Dogs controls the pucks against Gabriel Bilodeau #44 of the Gatineau Olympiques on December 1, 2017 at Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)
GATINEAU, CANADA - DECEMBER 1: Joe Veleno #9 of the Saint John Sea Dogs controls the pucks against Gabriel Bilodeau #44 of the Gatineau Olympiques on December 1, 2017 at Robert Guertin Arena in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images) /
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The New York Islanders will be one of the big storylines of the 2018 NHL Draft. Currently, they have two, first-round picks (11 & 12), as well as, a pair of second-rounders. Let’s examine the Isles first round options.

There are forward possibilities on who will be on the board when the New York Islanders turn comes up at picks 11 and 12.

While not landing a top-three selection from last weeks NHL Lottery was a disappointment for the Isles they will add two really good players to their organization come the first night of the draft. Assuming, of course, the Isles don’t trade these picks.

Forwards

There is a good chance there will be three enticing forward prospects on the board when the Islanders are officially on the clock. These prospects are Joseph Veleno, Barrett Hayton, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

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There is a lot to like about the 6’0, 181 lbs, Veleno. The kid from the Montreal-area is a smart-creative center who has excellent vision on the ice and plays a complete game. He is also known for his work ethic and approach. His potential is that off a two-way center. If he is on the board when the Isles pick, he will be an Islander.

Hayton is similar to Veleno in that he can help a club in a number of different ways and is a 200-foot player. But the 6’1, 186 lbs, center-winger can also excel in terms of offensive production.

Kotkaniemi is probably the most intriguing forward prospect that should be available when the Isles pick. The Finnish kid is already 6’2, 190 lbs and can either be a future power winger or a big center. He played key minutes in Finland’s professional league last year as a 17-year old. Bigger forwards take a little more time to develop but he might be worth the wait.

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Defense

There could be as many as three defensemen on the board that would be excellent additions for the Islanders, come draft day. They are Noah Dobson, Ty Smith, and Bode Wilde.

Dobson projects as an all-around top-four defenseman. Already 6’3, 176 lbs, Dobson has excellent skills in terms of offense and skating. He probably won’t get passed either the Rangers (9th) or the Oilers (10th) unless those teams go for Ty Smith or Veleno-Hayden.

Smith (5’11, 176 lbs) is a smooth-skating defenseman who has the potential to be an offensive force. He also plays a very responsible game. With his passing, skating, and offensive ability, once could see why he would be picked before Dobson.

Then there is the young American Bode Wilde. This 6’2, 194 lbs blueliner is big, strong, moves the puck quickly and has a bomb of a shot. He is really good in both zones and like Veleno is viewed as a safe pick. Wilde will most likely be on the board when the Isles pick.

For those who want to poo-poo the Isles upcoming first-round picks that would be a mistake. Don’t forget in recent years the Isles have selected Mathew Barzal (16th overall in 2015), Ryan Pulock (15th overall in 2013), Anthony Beauvillier (27th overall in 2015), and Kieffer Bellows (19th overall in 2016).

Next: Isles Should Keep de Haan

There is no reason why these two upcoming first-round picks wouldn’t be excellent additions to the Isles organization, as well as, becoming part of the blue and orange’s future core.

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