Can the New York Islanders afford to give up four first round picks in an offer sheet for Mitch Marner? It may seem crazy, but they could afford it.
Building your team through the draft, on paper, makes a lot of sense. You theoretically get the best value when someone is on their entry-level contract and then giving them progressive raises as restricted free agents. The New York Islanders have used this format for a very long time.
Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t get you over the hump due to poor drafting. Misses are going to happen in the draft, but it’s about capitalizing on the assets you have in your own system and then supplementing that through free agency and trades.
The Islanders have a chance to do that with offer sheeting, Mitch Marner. Marner is coming off an extremely impressive 94 point (26 goals, 68 assists) season. At just 22 years old the sky should be the limit for this kid.
Now, if the Islanders offer sheet something like seven-years with an $11 million AAV the draft compensation going back to Toronto would be four first round picks. It sounds legitimately crazy on paper but the more you look into it, the Islanders could afford to give up four first rounders for a 22-year-old stud like Marner.
Since 2009, the Islanders have selected 15 players in the first round of the NHL Draft. Five times over the past 11 years the Islanders have had multiple first rounders, they’ve gotten solid players in some of those drafts but they’ve never been able to get over the hump and get to a Conference Final let alone a Cup Final.
If the Islanders do make that offer sheet for Mitch Marner and give up the four first-round picks, the thought is that over those four years the Islanders will be at minimum a playoff team, with hopefully a Stanley Cup in that window.
Using that logic that means the Islanders would likely have first-round selections between 20-31 overall if you’re assuming they’re a playoff team.
Using 2010-2014 as the window, I looked at the first round and picks between 20th overall and 30th overall and there wasn’t a ton of talent in that window. Yes, there are outliers but for the most part, you’re not getting a real difference maker to an NHL roster.
In 2010, there were four names worthwhile after pick 20; Kevin Hays, Evgeni Kuznetsov, Charlie Coyle, and Brock Nelson. Each one of those forwards has hit 20 goals at least once in their career with Brock Nelson leading the way doing it four times. Four of the 11 picks seemed worthwhile for their selection.
The next year, that number went down to just two players worthwhile. Vladislav Namestnikov and Rickard Rakell are the two players worth a first-round selection in that group of 11 guys. That was a weaker draft class comparatively.
In 2012, it’s back up to three intriguing names; Olli Maatta, Mike Matheson, and Brady Skjei. All three are defenders and are fairly good ones at that. It’s nothing to write home about but you’re getting three NHL level defenders.
Now in 2013, there were three names that stuck out from picks 20 to 30. Anthony Manthan, who has two 20 goal seasons, Andre Burakovsky, and Shea Theodore. None of those guys are absolute studs, but again you’re getting three NHL quality players out of 11 picks.
2014 is the real outlier thanks to David Pastrnak. He has three 30 gal seasons under his belt while Nick Schmaltz and Kasperi Kapanen have one apiece. Those are the only three worthwhile names bringing the grand total to 14 out of 55 players drafted from picks 20-30 that you’d want on your team.
At just a 25.5 percent hit rate that means in all likelihood, you’re getting just one player over that four-year span that will have an impact on your NHL roster. Obviously, that changes if you’re picking in the top-15 but if you’re making the playoffs every year it shouldn’t matter to you.
Look at a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins they’ve made the playoffs every year since 2007. That’s 13 straight seasons with playoffs and in the last 10 years, they’ve made just six first-round picks and two in the last six years (they won two cups over that span).
Yes, giving up four first rounders on paper is very scary but it’s a risk you might have to take if you’re Lou Lamoriello. If you have the money to fit Artemi Panarin in you absolutely have the money for Mitch Marner who is six years younger and potentially just as good.