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New York Islanders Can Learn From The Washington Capitals

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07: The Washington Capitals celebrate their victory over the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game Five of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 07: The Washington Capitals celebrate their victory over the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in Game Five of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the T-Mobile Arena on June 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders should take a page out of the Washington Capitals playbook. There’s a clear way to build a Stanley Cup champion.

The Washington Capitals finally were able to get over the hump and win a championship. It’s something they’ve been building for ever since taking Alex Ovechkin back in 2004 with the first overall pick. The New York Islanders can learn a lot from Washington.

It’s crazy to think that just three years ago, they were two evenly matched teams playing in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It went seven games before the Islanders fell, but both teams have had different trajectories since then.

The Caps, who finished with 101 points in 2015, the year the Islanders and Capitals met in the playoffs, followed that up with 120, 118 and 105 point seasons over the next three years. The Islanders, who had 101 points in 2015 also, dropped to 100, 94 and 80 each of the next three years.

There’s a reason why the Capitals have been so successful. They draft, and scout extremely well. Let’s look at their lineup from Game 5 and look and how they got to the Capitals

Look how many first-round selections, guys the Capitals drafted, in their lineup. They have eight guys that they drafted in the first round in that lineup. Their scouting department is pristine. Their first round pick from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014 are all impact guys in 2018.

Another thing to notice, the UFA’s are all depth guys. Devante Smith-Pelly is a fourth liner and Brooks Orpik is a bottom pairing defenseman. You build through the draft and trades. Free agency is for your depth pieces.

Now let’s look at the Islanders lineup:

The Islanders only have six players who they selected in the first round playing for the Islanders. If you notice with the Islanders they tried to land a big time UFA in Andrew Ladd, which hasn’t worked.

By the Capitals rule of thumb, you don’t do that, and it makes sense. Building through the draft makes so much more sense. Look at Barzal, the Islanders are getting silly production for under a million dollars.

That’s how you win. You need cheap assets, usually guys on their ELC, and guys you extend. The Islanders 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 picks in the first round gave the Islanders virtually nothing. They’re not building blocks.

They were failed prospects most of them. A lot of the blame has to go to Garth Snow and his scouting staff. Luckily for the Islanders, Lou Lamoriello has a great history at the draft. With four picks in the first two rounds, the Islanders have an ability to improve their team via the draft and also by trade, the two best ways to build a team.

Outside of Tavares, the only UFA’s you should be concerned about are depth players. I’m fine with the Islanders signing a free agent for their third line center role, but as for goalie and defense, you have to go through a trade. The world champions taught us that.

Next: John Tavares Staying Or Going?

Luckily for the Islanders, they have a new regime ready to take over, and hopefully, this narrative that Snow drafted well can end because clearly, he didn’t.

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