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Islanders All Time Lists

New York Islanders Top 5 Bill Torrey Shrewdest Draft Picks

Bill Torrey of the Florida Panthers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bill Torrey of the Florida Panthers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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1989-1990: Leftwinger John Tonelli of the Los Angeles Kings. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell /Allsport
1989-1990: Leftwinger John Tonelli of the Los Angeles Kings. Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell /Allsport

John Tonelli | Houston Aeros (WHA)

Selection: 33rd overall in 1977

Already at number 15, the New York Islanders selected Mike Bossy. And in the second round, with the 33rd pick, the Islanders added John Tonelli.

In a career that would last 14 NHL seasons, Tonelli put up 836 points in 1028 games. For eight of those 14 seasons, he played for the New York Islanders, amassing 544 in 594 games played.

And he fell to the bottom of the second round in the draft. Only Mike Bossy was more productive in the 1977 draft class. Meaning the Islanders picked up both top players in ’77.

Tonelli was certainly a character. The second he turned 18 he signed with the WHA and left the OMJHL. Scouts certainly thought that the kid might jump at the next opportunity when he saw it. Torrey, however, didn’t think so, and drafted him as soon as he could.

Tonelli was a superbly skilled player. But lacked consistency. He had the potential for a 100 point season, but could also return just 67 the very next year.

Unfortunately, Tonelli’s legacy with the Islanders will always carry the weight of him sitting out for a portion of training camp. It eventually got him a move to the Calgary Flames.

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