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New York Islanders: Use 2018 NHL Draft Take Best Available

By Christopher Lizza
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24: Kieffer Bellows celebrates with the New York Islanders after being selected 19th during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24: Kieffer Bellows celebrates with the New York Islanders after being selected 19th during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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The New York Islanders have a golden opportunity to set up the organization for the next number of years, with four premium picks at the 2018 NHL Draft. However, the Isles need to focus on the best available talent and not needs of the current squad.

The New York Islanders currently have a pair of first-rounders as well as two in the second, to give them four prized picks in the first 43 selections at this year’s draft.

No question everyone in the league would love to have these selections come this June.

The Picks

The Islanders have the 11th, 12th (first round), 41st, and 43rd (second round) overall selections in this year’s draft. Picks 11 and 41 are the Islanders own selections, while picks 12 and 43 come via Calgary due to the Travis Hamonic trade last June. The Isles also have the Flames second-round selection in 2019 due to that trade.

The 2018 NHL Draft will be a complete 180 for the Islanders and their front office compared to last year’s draft, 2017. Remember the Isles did not draft a player last year until they picked Robin Salo with the 46th overall pick in the second round (traded away the first-round pick as part of an expansion draft trade).

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This year’s draft will be far different than last years for the New York Islanders.

Best Available

With these number of picks, the Islanders have there might be some thinking to target specific team needs. While adding players that can help the current Islanders deficiencies in the near future would be very attractive, the front office needs to draft the best talent on the board.

If the two best players on the board at 11 and 12 are both centers (Joe Veleno & Barrett Hayton?) then the Isles need to draft two centers. If the two best players on the board are defenseman (Ty Smith & Bode Wilde?) then add a pair of blue liners. Same goes for when the Isles pair of picks in the second round (selections 41 & 43).

In a perfect world, the Isles would add a pair of forwards and defenseman in the first and second rounds at this year’s draft in Dallas. However, the Isles have to pick based on who is on the board and what their scouting staff has told them.

Learn from Others Mistakes

In the 2015 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils had the sixth overall pick and took center Pavel Zacha. The Devils desperately needed forward help especially at center when they took Zacha. However, most talent evaluators would have told you at the time the best player on the board was defenseman Ivan Provorov, who went one pick later (7th overall) to the Flyers.

Both players are at the beginning of their careers, however, it’s fair to say Zacha is still trying to establish himself, while Provorov is already one of the core players on the Flyers roster.

The Islanders can’t make that kind of mistake and blow this amazing opportunity they have at this years NHL Draft in Dallas.

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Next: Isles Top 3 Free Agents Targets in 2018

The Isles could very well trade one or even two of these top picks to help their team now. However, if they stay put they have to select the best available talent on the board when their time comes.

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