The Five Worst First-Round Draft Picks in NY Islanders History

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One
2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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A wise man once said "The NHL Draft is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're going to get." OK, those may not be the exact words, but you get the picture. No matter how much research, scouting, and time teams put into the draft, no one ever really knows what will happen to these prospects.

At the beginning of the franchise's history, it seemed like all they did was hit home runs. The Isles built their dynasty in the 80s with their first-round draft picks, selecting guys like Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, and Clark Gillies, and also by drafting staples in Islander history such as Patrick Flatley, Pat LaFontaine, and Brent Sutter.

NHL Holds Press Conference And Draft Pick Lottery
NHL Holds Press Conference And Draft Pick Lottery / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

They even drafted exceptionally well in the 90s, picking Todd Bertuzzi, Wade Redden, Roberto Luongo, and Eric Brewer. However, in the 90s, no top pick was safe. No matter how poorly the Islanders were back then, then-GM Mike Milbury would trade away the young and talented for veterans who, to their credit, were successful on the Island. It's just hard not to envision a scenario where the young guys would put the Islanders on a more prosperous path.

With all those home runs, the Islanders swung and missed quite a few times. No prospect is guaranteed success in the top hockey league in the world, but there were opportunities to get game changing players.

Let's take a journey and take a look at the five worst first-round draft picks in Islander history.

Dave Chyzowski (1989, 2nd Overall)

1989 was a wonderful draft year, except the Islanders swung and missed. With the second overall pick, they picked left winger Dave Chyzowski. Chyzowski was dominant in his junior days, scoring 56 goals and 104 points. The Islanders were hoping that he turned into that same player, but he never amounted to much in the NHL.

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs / Graig Abel/GettyImages

In 126 games, he posted 15 goals, and 31 points, but carved out an exceptional career in the minor leagues. In 571 games in the minors, he posted 443 points including three 30+ goal seasons and a 40 goal season, before finishing off his career in Austria. Players like Chyzowski are incredibly useful for teams; but given where he was drafted, and the caliber of those picked after him, his fate was sealed.

Notable players picked after:

  • Bill Guerin
  • Stu Barnes
  • Bobby Holik
  • Scott Thornton
  • Olaf Kolzig

Scott Scissons (1990, 6th Overall)

It felt like Scott Scissons’ career was destroyed before it even started. While playing for the Saskatoon Blades, Scissons was an impactful player, registering 85+ points in back-to-back seasons (including a 40 goal campaign). Then in his draft year, he underwent a discectomy and suffered a wrist injury, all while his production dropped slightly. 

Despite his ailments, Scissons was drafted with the sixth pick in the 1990 draft by the Islanders. In his tenure, he played three total games (two regular season, one playoff), without getting on the scoresheet. After a failed stint on the Island, Scissons tried out for the Dallas Stars, but their team doctor suggested that he was damaged goods, leading him into an early retirement at the age of 22. 

Notable players picked after:

  • Daryl Sydor
  • Derian Hatcher
  • Keith Tkachuk
  • Martin Brodeur
  • Brad May

Robert Nilsson (2003, 15th overall)

Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders
Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders / Mike Stobe/GettyImages

This one is one of the more frustrating picks. In an absolutely stacked 2003 draft class, the Islanders picked Robert Nilsson with the 15th pick, the son of former NHLer, Kent Nilsson. Nilsson dominated the SHL breaking Markus Naslund’s record for most points as a 17 year old. Not only that, he represented Sweden in the World Juniors from 2003 through 2005.

As he transitioned to the big leagues, Nilsson only played 53 games with the Isles in the 05-06 season, with six goals and 14 assists. Ultimately, he was traded to Edmonton in the Ryan Smyth deal. Throughout his career, he had a rough time adjusting to the NHL style, going back and forth with the AHL. When looking at his numbers, he didn’t have a terrible career, with 118 points in 252 NHL games before moving to the KHL and the Swiss League. 

Notable players picked after:

  • Zach Parise
  • Ryan Getzlaf
  • Brent Burns
  • Ryan Kesler
  • Corey Perry

Griffin Reinhart (2012, 4th Overall)

In a draft class that many thought of to be weak, the 2012 draft produced a number of solid players. Griffin Reinhart was supposed to be one of them. The former fourth overall pick played the second least amount of games in the NHL compared to his first round cohorts, only registering two points. Reinhart was supposed to be the top defenseman that the Islanders were desperately looking for. A steady, puck moving defenseman who was exceptional in his own end, many thought Reinhart to be an incredibly safe pick. Instead, he never really thrived in “the show,” with only two points in 37 games.

Eventually he was traded to Edmonton after his first pro season for a first rounder that turned out to be Mathew Barzal. However, his career never took off. After enjoying some success in the AHL, he played three years overseas until his retirement at the age of 28.

Notable players picked after:

  • Morgan Rielly
  • Jacob Trouba
  • Filip Forsberg
  • Hampus Lindolm
  • Mathew Dumba

Michael Dal Colle (2014, 5th Overall)

What will always be a curious case is the fall from grace Michael Dal Colle had. He was the consensus fifth best prospect in the 2014 draft, posting 39 goals and 95 points. What always stood out with him was his deadly shot and his ability to drive play. After he was drafted he went right back to dominance with another 90+ point season, and helped the Generals win a Memorial Cup. Afterwards, that’s when things seemed to fall. Oshawa lost a lot of their key players, and Dal Colle struggled in the first 30 games, only posting 25 points. Eventually, he was traded to the Kingston Frontenacs and found a bit of his scoring touch with 27 goals and 55 points.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders
Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

When he became a pro, he underwhelmed greatly. Dal Colle never dominated the AHL like many had hoped he would, and failed to hit the 20 goal mark. Many of his Bridgeport teammates were receiving call-ups while he struggled to find his game. He eventually got a taste of the NHL, and did OK at best in 112 career games, but he was never the guy the Islanders thought they were getting. 

Notable players picked after:

  • William Nylander
  • Nikolaj Ehlers
  • Kevin Fiala
  • Jakub Vrana
  • Dylan Larkin