How have New York Islanders fans reacted to the news that the New York Rangers won the first-overall pick for the 2020 draft?
Eight loser teams from the qualifying round had a 12.5 percent chance to win the first overall pick for the 2020 NHL draft. For the New York Islanders, the nightmare scenario unfolded at the second phase of the draft lottery. Their cross-river rival, the New York Rangers won.
So on October 9, the Rangers will get the first pick in the draft and will likely select winger Alexis Lafreniere.
Naturally, Islanders fans reacted to the news with a wide range of emotions. From straight-up conspiratorial (thanks ‘Ball-Guy’), to being dismissive of the Rangers, to (thankfully) being optimistic about the Islanders present and future.
Did the ‘Ball-Guy’ rig the ping-pong ball for the Rangers? Why did he only drop the Rangers ball? Some Islanders fans were convinced it wasn’t done cleanly (even if they just meant it in jest).
The discussion was always going to turn conspiratorial when it involved a team that was able to pick second overall just last year. Heck, I’m sure it wouldn’t have mattered who actually won the pick, the conspiracy theorists were ready.
But when you think about it, we’re used to worse in the NHL. Sure, a first and second overall pick in two years is a lot of luck, but it’s not quite Edmonton Oilers level of “luck”.
From 2010 to 2015, the Edmonton Oilers won the first-overall pick an incredible four times. They also finished third in 2014. So that’s five top three picks in six years.
Some fans were just dismissive of the New York Rangers victory on the daft lottery floor.
Winning the first overall pick never guarantees anything. Look at the aforementioned Edmonton Oilers.
Connor McDavid and Leon Drisaitl combined for 207 points in the regular season and 15 points in four qualifying round games. They were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in those four games.
Since Edmonton won that first overall pick in 2010, they’ve gone 315-367-93 and ranked 29 of 31 teams. They’ve only made the playoffs twice. One of those appearances was that qualifying round exit to the Blackhawks this year.
First overall picks don’t win championships in-and-of-themselves. They’re certainly nice to have and they certainly could make the journey easier. But as Lou Lamoriello said almost two years ago now:
"Individual players win some games, but teams win championships. And that’s what we have to create."
I love optimists. I’m not one of them. I genuinely wish I could be, but I’m just not consistently able to find the good in every situation. Thankfully, I can rely on those in our fan base who can.
Not only are the Islanders still in the hunt for a Stanley Cup but we have some promising prospects of our own.
Chief amongst those prospects is goalie Ilya Sorokin. The best goalie outside of the NHL looks to become the best goalie in the NHL starting 2020-21. We’ve seen what the Islanders have been able to do with goalies with less talent than Sorokin. Imagine what they can do with him?
Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows will be vying to make the NHL roster next season. Either could be that goal-scoring threat the Islanders desperately need. Simon Holmstrom is still a few years out, but the organization is high on the first-rounder from 2019.
On the back end, Noah Dobson will likely see a loosened leash in 2020-21 as he takes steps to be that top-pair D. And Bode Wilde isn’t far away from the NHL either.
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There are good things coming for the New York Islanders. Not to mention that they’re still in the running for the ultimate prize while the Rangers were eliminated swept in the qualifying round.