Nick Fohr explains why NY Islanders first rounder Cole Eiserman dropped in the draft

2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament - USA vs Slovakia
2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament - USA vs Slovakia / Dave Reginek/GettyImages

Seeing one of your players selected in the NHL Draft is a special moment for a head coach. At the same time, it can also be tough to watch a player you helped develop unexpectedly fall in the draft, especially if that player put up the best numbers in your program's history.

That was the case for Nick Fohr, head coach of the U.S. National Under-18 Team, as Cole Eiserman, a player who scored more goals than any player in the history of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, fell outside of the Top 10 and was still on the board when the New York Islanders came on the clock at No. 20.

"I was really stunned...I would've never thought he still would've been there," Fohr told Peter Schwartz on the Double Chili Podcast last week. Fohr shared that while at the draft, he even had a team find him on the draft floor to ask questions about Eiserman, trying to figure out why he was falling.

Fohr had prepared Eiserman for this possibility but reminded him that wherever he was drafted, the team he was going to wanted him, and that would be a great feeling. Eiserman was widely regarded as the top scorer in the 2024 draft class, but other parts of his game are a work in progress. That scared off some teams that viewed him as a one-dimensional, even selfish, offensive player.

Part of the reason Eiserman fell was, by design, a conscious effort between player and coach to use his last season in the USNTDP to become a better all-around player. "We spent a lot of time working on his play away from the puck this year, and it affected other parts of his game, obviously," explained Fohr. "It was a very mature decision that he made. I said we have two ways to go; we can worry about the draft or our future as a hockey player."

Eiserman chose the latter, knowing that it could impact his draft position. His 200-foot game improved as last season went on, and he became a player willing to block shots and even earned time skating 5-on-6. There's still room for improvement, but Eiserman showed a willingness and eagerness to learn, which will carry over to his collegiate and professional career.

Eiserman will play next season at Boston University under former NHL player Jay Pandolfo, someone Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is familiar with from his days with the New Jersey Devils. "Jay knows what it takes to get there, knows what it takes to stay there. He can help him continue that development path while he also focuses on winning hockey."

During the interview, Fohr half-joked that it was comforting knowing you were starting each game up 1-0 because you knew Eiserman was good for at least one goal. Islanders fans hope they experience a similar feeling in the future, and if the first-rounder continues to emphasize improving the other parts of his game, they likely will.