It’s a question I’ve been asking myself since the off season. Since the team didn’t really make any changes to the lineup that lost in Round One of the playoffs, it was clear that Garth Snow was banking on improvements from young players ready to “take the next step”.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. The 2015-2016 Islanders look remarkably similar to the team that lost in 7 games to Washington:
- The powerplay, well, isn’t.
- They score on a very inconsistent basis
- They still get killed by injuries on defense due to a lack of depth at the position
That last one came to mind when I saw Flyers rookie Shayne Gostisbehere had a 15 game scoring streak. I got to thinking about when he was drafted versus the Islanders prospects on defense.
Turns out he was drafted in Round 3 in 2012. 13 picks after the Islanders took Adam Pelech.
Pelech, of course was the third of seven defenders drafted by the Isles that year, who’ve played a combined 30 NHL games, most by Griffith Reinhart, who is an Oiler now. Clearly, in this one example, the Isles player development doesn’t look good when compared to the Flyers, who don’t exactly have a great reputation for player development in recent years.
So, I took a look at the last 5years of drafts. Turns out, that since the successful draft of 2009 (Tavares, Ciziskas, deHaan, Lee), the Islanders have only had 3 players spend any significant time in the NHL. One of them has spent most of it in Minnesota, though.
The bigger issue though, are all those defensive picks. Yes, defense takes bit longer to develop, but the Isles have basically gotten nothing from 5 years of draft picks on defenders. Previous to 2010, picks used on Travis Hamonic and Calvin deHaan provided the team with solid defenders, but the more recent picks have, for whatever reason, been parked in the AHL for the foreseeable future, while we watch injuries pile up and the minutes adding up for guys who are mediocre defenders at best. To give you an idea of how bad this looks currently, here is a small sampling of the defenders picked since 2010, years in which 20 draft picks have been spent on defense, with little to show for:
That’s a lot of defenders playing at the NHL level, when the Islanders can’t seem to find any of their picks capable of doing the same. There’s still time, but the Islanders lack of development here does not bode well for the teams continued improvement.