Taking look back at five pivotal years for the New York Islanders and the NHL Draft Lottery.
For five years between 2010 and 2014, the New York Islanders were regular fixtures of the NHL's Draft Lottery. For those five years, the Islanders hoped they could get some luck and add another cornerstone talent to their organization through the draft lottery.
They were successful in 2009, landing a star center in John Tavares. But in the five years following the 2009 draft, the Isles still held pretty good odds to move up and never did.
Here's a recount of what happened in those years including their odds, who they picked, and how that worked out for the Islanders.
I also had a bit of fun. I wanted to see how things could work out with modern draft lottery rules. So, I used rankings from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014 and the draft lottery set up from 2019 to see what the Isles could have received. This year's lottery is way too complicated to replicated a few times.
To do this, I ran Tankathon's simulator once and superimposed the team's from that given year to the position that won.
So, for example, in 2010 the bottom five teams were: Edmonton, Toronto, Florida, Columbus, and the Isles. If the lottery simulator came up with 1st, 4th, and 3rd the order would be Edmonton, Columbus, and Florida. Toronto would move back two spots and the Isles would still be 5th.
With a 34-37-11 record (79 points), the New York Islanders finished 26th out of 30 teams. Back in 2010 winning the draft lottery meant a team could only move up four sports. As the fifth-worst team, the Isles were one of the few teams that could win and still claim the first overall pick.
The other teams (and their odds of winning) were: Edmonton (25%), Toronto (18.8%), Florida (14.2%), and Columbus (10.7%). The Islanders had an 8.1% chance of moving up.
The second and third overall picks were not yet part of the lottery.
The top prize that year was a toss-up between Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall. Seguin was the top rater player based on the NHL's Central Scouting. With the Isles selecting center John Tavares in 2009, it would make sense that they'd pick Hall if they won.
As we know, Edmonton won the lottery and selected Hall. The Isles would keep the fifth overall pick and take winger Nino Niederreiter. We all know how that went.
Modern draft lottery:
Winners - 2nd, 1st, 4th
In this simulation, the Islanders would move up a spot to pick third. Erik Gudbransson was the third overall pick in 2010. I don't know if this is better or not? Gudbransson is an OK third pair defenseman. Nino is a top-six forward...although not with the Isles.
I'm not sure which pick would have been better for the Isles? Getting Nino should have been exactly what the Isles needed. But the Isles did everything in their power to alienate him. Getting a bottom pair D in Gudbransson doesn't move the needle forward for the Islanders.
The next year the Isles were again a terrible team. In fact, they were worse than in 2009-10. With a 30-39-13 record for 73 points. Seven fewer points than they had amassed in the previous year.
That record ranked them as the fourth-worst team in the league. Only Florida (72pts), Colorado, (68pts), and Edmonton (62pts) were worse.
Just like in 2010, the winning team could only move up four spots. So winning could move the Isles to the top spot and give them a chance to pick consensus number one pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
This time the Isles held a 10.7% chance of picking first. Edmonton had a 25% chance at winning yet again. But New Jersey actually won the draft and moved from eighth to fourth in the draft. Meaning Edmonton would retain the first overall pick, and move the Isles back a spot.
Going fourth that year was Adam Larsson. While the Islanders picked Ryan Strome with the fifth overall pick.
Strome had a great sophomore year, putting up 50 points but never hit the same heights again for the Isles. Maybe if the Isles had drafted fourth they could have traded Larsson for Taylor Hall five years later?
Modern draft lottery:
Winners - 1st, 10th, 5th
The Isles actually end up moving back here. Minnesota jumps up to grab the second overall pick and the Sens get the third overall pick. Pushing the Isles back two spots to sixth overall. Which nets them Mika Zibanejad.
It took Mika a while to become that top center, but over the last two years with the Rangers, he's shown that he's a clear top-line center. Having him behind Tavares would have been incredible for the Islanders.
The Isles finished as the fourth-worst team for yet another year. With a 34-37-11 record for 79 points only the Canadiens (78pts), Oilers (74pts), and Blue Jackets (65pts) were worse.
Again, the Isles had a 10.7 percent chance of moving up from fourth to first. Nail Yakupov was a lock to be the number one pick. With 170 points in 107 games with the Sarnia Sting, you could see why he was the consensus number one pick.
Of course, Edmonton won the draft lottery that year. Meaning Columbus moved back one spot.
The Isles drafted Griffin Reinhart with the fourth overall pick. While Reinhart never had an impact at the NHL level, at least the Isles would turn him into Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier at the expense of the Edmonton Oilers a few years later.
Modern draft lottery:
Winners - 8th, 6th, 3rd
The Isles would move down to the sixth slot in this scenario. Hampus Lindholm was selected by Anaheim sixth overall that year. With 466 more NHL games than Griffin Reinhart, Lindholm would have been a vastly superior pick to make.
Although that also means, the Isles don't eventually get Mathew Barzal. But with Zibanejad, Tavares, and now Lindholm, does it matter?
After a better 2012-13 season where the Isles made the playoffs, they sank right back down the standings in 2013-14 with a 34-37-11 record (79 points).
Four other teams had a worse season than they did. Calgary (77pts), Edmonton (67pts), Florida (66pts), and Buffalo (52 pts).
In 2014, all 14 non-playoff teams could win the first overall pick and not just move up a maximum of four spots. Well, 13 teams really. Because of their Ilya Kovalchuk shenanigans, the New Jersey Devils couldn't win the draft. If they did, there would be a re-draft.
The odds of winning were still the same, so as the fifth-worst team in the league the Isles chances of picking first was at 8.1 percent.
With the second-best odds, the Florida Panthers moved up a spot and drafted Aaron Ekblad. The Isles drafted a ton of defensemen between 2012 and 2013 (nine to be exact). Had they won they likely would have selected a forward.
Sam Bennett was the top-ranked North American forward with Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl being the next two.
As we know, the Isles picked fifth and took Michael Dal Colle. Just about every single forward drafted in the 2014 first round has had a better go in the NHL than Dal Colle has.
The only forwards who have fewer NHL games from that 2014 first-round are Connor Bleackley (0 games), Nikita Scherback (37 games), John Quenneville (42 games), and fellow Isles pick Josh Ho-Sang (53 games).
Modern draft lottery:
Winner - 1st, 12th, 6th
The Isles move back again here, this time picking seventh. That would net them Haydn Fleury (selected seventh by the Carolina Hurricanes). You could make the argument they take William Nylander (8th overall) or maybe even Nikolaj Ehlers (9th overall) but in keeping with the other hypothetical drafts, Fleury is the Isles pick.
He's a fine player with 132 NHL games and certainly better than Michael Dal Colle, but getting Nylander or Ehlers would be incredible.