Way too early: 2019
Best Player: Simon Holmstrom 23rd Overall
It’s still way too early to tell how this Islanders draft class will pan out. But so far the signs are encouraging.
While taking Simon Holmstrom 23rd overall was strange. He was projected to be a second-round pick by most analysts and has been plagued with numerous injuries over the last three seasons. He might be a great find. At least he’s in North America already.
Samuel Bolduc, taken in the second-round also seems to be a good find.
Best of a bad situation: 2017
Best Player: Sebastian Aho 139th Overall
The Islanders didn’t make a first-round pick in 2017. That pick went to Vegas along with Mikhail Grabovski in order for the expansion franchise to select Jean-Francois Berube instead of one of the valuable players the Isles exposed at the expansion draft.
Sebastian Aho is clearly an NHL caliber player. He’s probably not anything more than a third pair defenseman but to get an NHL caliber player in the fifth round is a good pick up.
We’ll see what second-round pick Robin Salo can become as he looks to head to North America. Sixth-round pick Arnaud Durandeau has already turned pro and is bouncing between the AHL and ECHL for the Isles.
Could be a good year: 2016
Best Player: Kieffer Bellows 19th Overall
Kieffer Bellows could very well be in the NHL to start the 2020-21 season. After a slow start to his professional career, he turned things around this season. He was scoring seemingly at will in the AHL for a few weeks. That lead to an NHL call-up where he again looked impressive. By 2020-21 we should have a good sense of what Bellows will be at the NHL level.
Otto Koivula (120th overall) has already bounced between the AHL and NHL this season. He looks to be a good depth center going forward. In two years we’ll see if Anatoly Golyshev (95th overall) can be an NHL caliber player.
The 2016 class looks like it has the making of a good draft year, but we still don’t know for sure until we see these players hit the NHL.
Best Player: Scott Mayfield (34th Overall)
You can certainly make the case that Ryan Strome (5th overall) was the best player taken in the draft. But I’m going to argue that Scott Mayfield was, simply because of where both players were drafted.
With the fifth overall pick, there were certain expectations for Ryan Strome. With a 50 point sophomore season, it looked like he could live up to those expectations. But in the following three years that hope faded as Strome settled into becoming a 30-35 point player.
Scott Mayfield is exactly as advertised. He’s a rock-solid top-four defense-first defenseman. While that role doesn’t put up a ton of points it’s still incredibly important. As a second-round pick, the expectations are lower on Mayfield. So for me, Mayfield was the better pick.