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What the Islanders need to do on draft day:

by Photo of Kevin Leonard

and the rest of the off-season.

What the Islanders need to do on draft day:

The NHL draft sits in importance somewhere between the MLB and NBA. Prospects usually are nowhere near as ready for the big league as basketball and football players and, like baseball players, usually take a few years to move up through the minors before they're considered for a call-up. Naturally, such a state of affairs requires front-office patience, and talented scouts and coaches who can see a good thing down the road, and develop a player's skills.

Since organizations with solid home-grown talent like the Red Wings (and more recently, the Kings) are perennial playoff teams, the draft is the first place to start when building stability. Hopefully, the Islanders can hearken back to their dynasty days when GM Bill Torrey assembled a team that won 4 straight Cups, and 19 straight playoffs series, mostly with drafted stars, including hall of famers Dennis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Billy Smith and Bryan Trottier.

The Islanders, of course, have shuffled around the bottom 3 of the Eastern Conference for much of the last 17 years, mustering only a handful of a playoff experiences, but not winning a playoff series since 1992.

Their front office as had a sensational knack for bringing in players on the last legs of their careers, and overpaying them for ambiguous “leadership”(Michael Peca, Alexei Yashin, Mike Sillinger, Doug Weight). In addition to this aggravating skill, former backup goalie Garth Snow is consistently bringing his old pals to play – Martin Biron, Dwayne Roloson (who is actually talented), and mostly recently, Nabakov. Now, why does he do this when he has such a reliable long-term goalie in Rick DiPietro?

The team also needs to relearn the term “instigator” - Jon Sim does not qualify. Michael Haley, however does qualify, and the team should look into bringing players with energy to supplement their balanced attack up front.

Team has:

  • Balance up front - Though they don't have a standout star (waiting on you, Tavares), they do have some balance, especially at forward. Mouslon, Grabner, Tavares, Okposo, Parenteau and Comeau all have 30 goal potential.

  • Youth on D – With Mark Streit steering the ship with young guns like Hamonic, de Haan, and Wishart looking to make an impact this year.

  • Al Montoya – Islanders: HE IS YOUR GOALIE. Wash your hands of DiPietro, and let him sulk on the bench. Al Montoya has sound form, and showed his consistency in the latter part of last season.

Team needs:

  • top-6 forwards – In the NFL, the saying goes that if you have 2 quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. With a few exceptions, what the Islanders have on forward is a conglomerate of 3rd-liners. Now, you can never have enough grinders in the NHL. But the Islanders are going to have to draft the most dynamic scorer or play-maker they can find in the draft.

  • A D-man – The Isles need just one more guy on D. Instead of bringing in mid-road vets like Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton like they did last year, the Islanders need to spend the money and bring in another stalwart like Streit to eat up minutes on defense, and show these future stars like Hamonic and (hopefully) Calvin de Haan how to play. If they can throw Streit and someone like Shea Weber or Tomas Kaberle on the point for a powerplay, they're in good shape.

  • No more goalies – Sure, draft a goalie in the later rounds. But don't waste your tops picks on it when you've already busted first-round picks on DiPietro and Luongo (well, he's good...but you traded him!)

With the 5 th pick:

There are 5 highly touted forwards going into the draft. Just pick the best player that's there. The Islanders can't plan for the future forever. It's time to use these top-5 picks to choose players that can help the club in the next year or two. If Ryan Nugent-Hopkins drops to 5, the Islanders need to pounce on him.

And can you PLEASE hold on to these young forwards you've been harping on for the last few years?

It may be hard to resign all the necessary pieces (with DiPietro's 15-year deal eating up dough), but if they can keep a core of 6-8 forwards to build around, and pick up a top-notch veteran D-man, they'd be in business for the 2011-12 season.

Wanna see how the Islanders use their first pick? Get to Minnesota this Saturday for the draft with Charged.fm.

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