Drafting cannot just be best player available

New York Islander Fan Central | 1/28/2009 12:53:00 PM |

This entry is about the strategy of drafting too many of the same kind of players, especially with the top end picks.

I remember the third jersey ceremony in October, for me one thing stood out more than anything else and that was looking at Clark Gilles and Bobby Nystrom standing next to Josh Bailey and Mike Sillinger.

Mike Milbury once said. " Where's the Beef " as one of his more famous quotes, begging the question where was the beef when it came time to adding some size to this roster in the early round drafting strategy for the better part of a decade?

I'm not talking about doing it with the Per Braxenholm's and a lot of hit and miss picks at best.

At some point did Mike Milbury, Tony Feltrin, Kenny Morrow or someone in the scouting department wonder how come so many smaller players were drafted aside from Steve Regier, Jason Pitton or Jeremy Colliton with the early or mid-round selections at forward?

When Colliton receives a callup I notice him immediately because he's a bigger player, same with Ben Walter. I would not consider either one physical even if Colliton impressed me with a big hit he threw in Pittsburgh last year.

Let me write up front any player I mention below will go through a wall to win a hockey game for the New York Islanders, that's not the issue.

Blake Comeau drafted in 2003 is not shy about hitting. Same for Bergenheim, Frans Nielsen, Ryan O'Mara, Robert Nilsson and Petteri Nokelainen will all hit to make a play but none of these talented prospects will ever be mistaken for Dustin Penner or Todd Bertuzzi in the size department.

The trade for Jeff Tambellini was a good gamble for two players on the way out but it did not address the size of the roster.

I'm not too sure Josh Bailey fits the formula either but has a few growing years in front of him.

You have to add in that mix Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli who with Radek Martinek can hit but are not big imposing players.

Dustin Kohn drafted in 2002 is listed at 6' 2" 182 lbs.

Tony Feltrin's staff in 2006 finally did a little to correct this. Kyle Okposo fits the profile with Jesse Joensuu, Tomas Marcinko.

Then you add in the players during Smith/Snow tenure with Andy Hilbert, Mike Sillinger, Richard Park, Mike Comrie, Ruslan Fedotenko and even a Jon Sim who has some grit but not a big player by any means.

A few players signed like Brendan Witt, Sean Hill and Andy Sutton evened things out on the backline somewhat but Tom Poti, Viktor Kozlov & Josef Vasicek were hardly known for physical play to go with their size.

Bill Guerin and Doug Weight are average size NHL players, but both have the ability at times to play physical as does Trent Hunter.

When the Islanders passed on Nikita Fliatov I felt size that was one reason, granted we all saw how that strategy worked so well with Zach Parise for a lot of teams.

You have to pick your spots.

Jack Hillen is listed as 5' 11" 195 lbs, Sean Bentivoglio 5' 10" 190 & Robert Hennigar 5' 11" 184 for a player in his mid-twenties. Garth Snow signed local walk-on from prospects camp Vladimir Nikiforov 5' 6" 150.

This is a list of the Islander prospect pool here you are going to have make up your own mind if the strategy has been the correct one.

I see Aaron Ness or the pick on Mark Katic and they are obviously talented prospects, I also see some of the same strategy and not enough size mixed in.

I know these are kids with a lot of growing to do.

I watched those games against the Devils/Ducks and the Islanders seemed badly over matched in the size department. Billy Jaffe mentioned it during both games.

Is this why Nate Thompson and Tim Jackman are here to offset the problem a little bit with their physical play despite both being on waivers?

Joel Rechlicz for his three year contract cannot make the Sound Tigers while Mitch Fritz while he was here was anchored to the Islander bench beyond the occasional fight by appointment.

I want to go the other way with this also as I wrap up this blog entry.

Mike Milbury drafted some very big prospects in Mike Rupp, Kristian Kudroc, Eric Brewer, Branislav Mezei along with a third rounder named Chara, some make it and others do not.

There are no absolutes but it begs the question can you trap yourself going for the best player available if it happens to be the same kind of player?

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