The season isn't over, in fact, we haven't even hit the halfway point of the year. With 37 games played, the New York Islanders still have 45 games and 90 points to play for. Getting into a playoff picture by the end of the year isn't impossible.
Like Kevin Garnet yelled out in 2008: "Anything is possible!" Right?
But what if the Isles can't surge into a playoff position? After all, making up the ground they need to make up on teams currently in a playoff picture looks bleak. Boston still holds the final Wild Card spot with 53 points. That's a 17 point gap that the Isles need to fill. Even with five games in hand, that's a tough ask for the Isles.
So, thinking way ahead, let's assume it's April and the Islanders find themselves in the same position they are now. Fifth in the Eastern Wild Card race and ninth when it comes to the draft lottery. Who can they/should they select with that draft pick? (I'm also assuming they keep their first-round pick for this year.)
New York Islanders: Looking way ahead to 2022 draft possibilities
Sitting ninth in the draft order is somewhere the Islanders haven't been in some time. They were close in 2018 when they selected eleventh and 12th overall. Both of those picks - Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson - are impactful players in the Islanders lineup today. So selecting someone ninth overall could net the Isles a really good prospect that could be in the lineup and ready to make an impact within the next two years or so.
I looked at three different 2022 draft rankings to see who are the players that are expected to be selected around the ninth overall pick (where we assume the Isles will pick in this scenario). Here are the 8th, 9th, and 10th overall picks from the three draft rankings I looked at:
8. Connor Geekie (C | WHL)
9. Logan Cooley (C | USNTDP)
10. Frank Nazar (C | USNDTP)
8. Matt Savoie (C | WHL)
9. Danila Yurov (RW | KHL)
10. Connor Geekie (C | WHL)
8. Juraj Slafkovsky (LW | Liiga)
9. Logan Cooley (C | USNTDP)
10. Frank Nazar (C | USNTDP)
There isn't a clear consensus, but three names come up twice in these rankings: Connor Geekie, Logan Cooley, and Frank Nazar. All of them play center and all three are having strong years for their respective teams:
Geekie (Winnipeg Ice): 38GP, 12G, 48Pts
Cooley (US Nat. U18): 27GP, 15G, 37Pts
Nazar (US Nat. U18): 35GP, 16G, 42Pts
The one that stands out to me is Conor Geekie. His name is Conor which these days seems to immediately catapult a player to a solid NHL career. He's a 6'4" center that can skate well enough for someone of his size and is standing out at the WHL level.
It's only his second year at the junior level, but these results (40pts in 38 games) aren't anything new. In 24 WHL games last year he put up nine goals and 23 points. So if I'm picking between the three I might take Geekie to bolster a growing list of good centers.
What about any offboard picks? The Islanders have been known to reach for players at the draft. Depending on the draft ranking, guys like Simon Nemec and Brad Lambert were going between 12-14 overall.
If either is still on the board when the Isles step up to the podium with the 9th overall pick (like in this hypothetical scenario) I'd take either. I might take Nemec over Lambert just for the fact that he's a right-shot D.
Please. There is no way the New York Islanders could tank hard enough to catch either the Arizona Coyotes - currently on a five-game losing streak and hold a 0.279 Pts% - or the Montreal Canadiens - currently on a four-game losing streak and hold a 0.261Pts%.
Tanking for better odds is always a possibility, but the Islanders couldn't tank hard enough to guarantee a top-end pick. And that's assuming Lou would even go for a tank right now (he wouldn't).
The Isles would be a lottery team in this scenario. What are their odds?
I didn't want to add the wrinkle of winning the draft to my hypothetical scenario, but I will address it here. What kind of odds are we talking about when it comes to possibly selecting first or second*?
*Remember the rules changed for the draft lottery.
Here are the odds for the Isles, assuming they get the 9th best odds:
1st OVR: 5.4%
2nd OVR: 5.8%
9th OVR: 58.6%
10th OVR: 27.6%
11th OVR: 2.7%