From Not As Great to Great
1978 – Little Impact
Total games played: 111
Biggest impact: Steve Tambellini
The Islanders made eleven picks at the 1978 draft. They missed out on a few players like Craig MacTavish who was selected 153rd overall, just a pick after the Isles selected Paul Joswiak. Joswiak never played in the NHL while MacTavish would play 1,093 games.
Steve Tambellini would have the biggest impact of the draft class with 107 games played for the Isles. It wasn’t a great draft for the Isles, but with so many huge drafts before it, you can give Torrey and staff a pass on this.
1975 – Lots of Picks, Few Hits
Total games played: 200
Biggest impact: Pat Price
The Islanders had twelve picks in 1975. But unlike most of their drafts in the 1970s, they had few hits.
The biggest impact on the club from the 1975 draft was first-round pick Pat Price who played 182 games for the Isles between 1975 and 1978.
Fun fact: Pat Price was traded by the New York Rangers to the Quebec Nordiques in 1987 for future New York Islanders assistant coach Lane Lambert.
1976 – Four Cups for a Fourth Rounder
Total games played: 738
Biggest impact: Ken Morrow
Number of Cups: 5
Now we’re getting into some classes where dynasty players get pulled. In 1976, with a fourth-round pick, the New York Islanders selected defenseman Ken Morrow.
Fresh off a gold medal after beating the Soviets in the miracle on ice game and then the Finns for the gold medal Morrow stepped into a top Islanders team during the 1979-80 season playing 18 games before the Isles headed to the playoffs.
There he would help the Isles capture his first of four Stanley Cups. I don’t think anyone had a better 1980 than Ken Morrow with a gold medal and then a Stanley Cup.
As you probably know, he’d be around for the next three cups. Not bad for a fourth-round pick?
1979 – Ton of Cups
Total games played: 1,415
Biggest impact: Duane Sutter
Number of Cups: 12
This was a great draft for the Islanders. They pulled four players in the first three rounds that would each have their names carved in the Stanley Cup multiple times.
Tomas Johnsson and Billy Carroll were plucked in the second round and goalie Roland Melanson was taken in the third round. All three would combine for 868 games played and eight cup rings.
The player with the biggest impact was the 17th overall pick that year, Duane Sutter. He’d immediately jump to the NHL and play 547 games for the Isles over his career and help hoist all four cups.