Great to Legendary
1977 – Mike and John
Total games played: 1,391
Biggest impact: Mike Bossy
Number of Cups: 9
Only three of the Islanders picks in 1977 made the NHL. Two-thirds of those picks would be incredibly vital to the Islanders dynasty. One would be a legend in the sport.
Hector Marini, John Tonelli, and Mike Bossy. Those were the three players that would make an impact in the NHL for the Isles. Marini would only play 45 games for the Isles and get his name on the 1981 cup.
John Tonelli would provide the primary assist on Bob Nystrom’s cup-winning goal in 1980, hoist another three cups, and collect 544 points in 594 games with the Isles. Amazing.
Bossy would set the league on fire. He’s also the reason why I put the ’77 draft over the ’79 draft. The ’79 draft might have three more cups and 24 more games played, but that draft didn’t have a sport altering player like Bossy.
With 752 games played and 573 goals, he’s one of if not the greatest goalscorer to ever play the game. Four cups, three Lady Byng’s, a Calder Trophy, and a Conn Smythe. Bossy is a legend in the sport.
As the 15th overall pick in 1977, 12 teams had the chance to draft Bossy. Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers passed on him twice. Ouch.
1973 – Franchise Player
Total games played: 2,061
Biggest impact: Denis Potvin
Number of cups: 6
Five picks from the 1973 class made the NHL ranks for the Islanders. Dave Lorimer as a 12th rounder was a great find for the Isles. Lorimer played 220 games in blue and orange and lifted the cup twice.
But the real class of the Isles draft class was the first overall pick, Denis Potvin. Not only was he the best defenseman drafted that year but the best player drafted. Potvin was an absolutely dominant player for his era.
He was the first defenseman to hit 1,000 points in a career, he won the Norris trophy three times, he won the Calder Trophy, and hoisted the cup four straight times as the Isles captain.
The Isles were tempted to trade the first overall that year by the Montreal Canadiens. But they never wavered with their desire to draft Potvin and were well compensated for sticking with him.
1972 – Constant Hits
Total games played: 3,068
Biggest impact: Bob Nystrom
Number of cups: 10
From rounds one through five the Isles were able to draft a player that made an impact in the NHL. With their first two picks, the Isles picked Billy Harris first overall and then Lorne Henning with the 17th overall pick. Both combined for 1,166 games played in an Isles jersey.
In round three, the Isles picked Bob Nystrom. Nystrom was the most impactful not only because of his cup-winning goal in 1980 but because of his 900 games played for the Isles, his 513 points in the regular season, and 83 points in 157 playoff games.
In total, this draft has ten cup rings. Yes, I gave Lorne Henning four rings even though a few of those were won as a member of the Isles coaching staff and not as a player. So at worst, this draft has eight cup rings.
1974 – Legen -wait for it- dairy
Total games played: 3,039
Biggest impact: Bryan Trottier
Number of cups: 16
I’m not familiar with every NHL team’s draft but I doubt any team has had better single draft than the New York Islanders did in 1974.
With the fourth overall pick, the Isles took future Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Clark Gillies. Then they followed that up in the second round by drafting Bryan Trottier with the 22nd overall pick.
Getting Trottier, a Calder, Clancy, Hart, Art Ross, and Conn Smythe winner, as well as a four-time Stanley Cup champ in the second round, was an incredible steal. But the Isles weren’t done.
In the seventh round they draft Dave Langevin and then in round 14 they pluck Stefan Persson! Between the four of them, they have 16 Stanley Cup rings with the Islanders.
I doubt there’s a better draft class out there. Bill Torrey and his staff were at the peak of their powers for this draft. It didn’t just stock their team with talent but it gave them the pieces to become a dynasty with a hall of fame power forward, a top-five center to ever play, and two great defenders. It doesn’t get better than the class of 1974.