Trying to build a New York Islanders starting lineup drafted after the second round in the active era was actually quite a difficult task.
The New York Islanders won’t pick until round three today unless they can move a player or some picks around to move up. So with that in mind, I wanted to look at some of the players the Islanders have picked after the second round at the draft and build a starting lineup of some of the better players they drafted.
I only looked at active era drafts. With Zdeno Chara being the oldest player in the league I went as far back as 1996. I figured that would be far enough to make a full team of players. It wasn’t.
While I could have easily made a strong blue line I had a hard time making a single forward line from picks made after round-two. Again, I had 24 years to choose from, I really thought that I wouldn’t have had such a hard time making a team let alone a starting lineup.
My biggest challenge was right-wing. I really couldn’t find much quality there. This speaks to the Islanders challenges to bring in quality throughout the lineup, specifically amongst the forward group and on the right.
Forward Line: Anders Lee (6 2009), Frans Nielsen (3 2002), Mattias Weinhandl (3 1999)
Picking Anders Lee as the team’s left-wing was a no-brainer. The sixth-round pick from 2009 has developed into one of the most feared power forwards in the league. It’s wild to think he was selected in the sixth round of the draft, but scouts weren’t sure if the multi-sport Lee would actually play hockey.
Frans Nielsen is another no-brainer. Drafted in the third round of the 2002 draft, the Danish center was an invaluable player for the Islanders. He played big minutes in all situations and put up solid numbers.
I had a real hard time finding a right-wing player for this team. I went with Mattias Weinhandl. He had a few OK seasons with the isles putting up 23 points in 47 games in 02-03 and 20 points in 55 games the next season. I could have forced Casey Cizikas into this slot but as a center and with a left shot that would have been one hell of a stretch.
Defensive pair: Zdeno Chara (3 1996) Jared Spurgeon (6 2008)
Like I said, I could have made a number of picks here. Adam Pelech, Andrew MacDonald, or Devon Toews were all drafted after the second round of the draft during the 24-year window I was looking at. I stuck with a left-right pair of complimentary players.
Chara is bound for the hall of fame. his larger than life-size matches his larger than life playing style. Even at 43 years of age, Chara is still playing 20+ hard and physical minutes for the Bruins on a nightly basis.
Jared Spurgeon is that puck-mover every team would like to have on their team. Except for maybe the Islanders who never gave him a shot after drafting him in 2008. His puck-carrying abilities complement Chara’s physical play perfectly.
Goalie: Ilya Sorokin (3 2014)
He hasn’t even played an NHL game yet so maybe this a bit premature. But of the 17 goalies the Islanders drafted after round two since 1996, Kevin Poulin has the longest NHL resume with 50 games played. But his 3.07GAA and 0.899SV% don’t scream quality.
Sorokin seems to have the quality to be one of the better goalies in the league. At the very least he’s going to be an average starter at the NHL level.