For the first time since 2019, the Islanders own their first round pick heading into the draft. They have the 13th overall pick in this week’s draft. The projection of what they’ll do with that draft pick has been subject to a lot of speculation. There will be a number of quality prospects for the Islanders to bring into a somewhat depleted system. But there also is the possibility of moving the pick to make an immediate improvement to win now. Let’s begin this preview with some of the players the Islanders could have available at the 13th overall pick.
With where the Islanders are picking, there are two likely candidates if they choose to improve on defense. The popular pick is Kevin Korchinski of the Seattle Thunderbirds. He’s a high quality offensive defenseman who needs some development on his defensive game. Korchinski has been touted as a bit of a risk with high reward potential if he can further improve his game. However, there are some mock drafts that have Korchinski going before the Islanders have a chance, which presents the option of Pavel Mintyukov. Like Korchinski, Mintyukov is a talented offensive prospect, but will be a project for the Islanders to get pro ready. Denton Mateychuk is another dark horse candidate the Islanders could take with the pick. Taking on any of these players could be a worthwhile project for the Islanders to invest in. They’ve had a lot of success developing NHL-ready defensemen in their system, so there’s a good chance the team could develop any of these players to their highest potential.
If the Islanders choose to select a forward, they have a multitude of intriguing options. Marco Kasper has been touted as one of the more talented forwards expected to be taken in the late lottery. But with his stock so high, the chances of him falling to the Islanders are slim. One prospect that’s been widely talked about for the Islanders is Brad Lambert, nephew of new head coach Lane Lambert.
He’s a skilled center who still needs some work to produce at a higher level. But based on his natural skill alone, many view him as one of the biggest potential steals of the draft if he falls into the late lottery. Connor Geekie is another high quality option that could be available at this pick. His skating is not as good as Lambert’s, but he has a terrific shot and is a big time producer. Additionally, at 6’4″ ,he’s one of the biggest centers available in this draft. Some other names to potentially watch include Danila Yurov and Cutter Gauthier.
Using the pick as trade bait for an immediate roster improvement has been a highly talked about scenario for the Islanders. With Kevin Fiala off the board, the Islanders only have a few legit options in this scenario. One of them is 40-goal-scorer Alex DeBrincat, who’s rumored to be available. However, the Blackhawks are seeking a massive haul for the winger, and the Islanders may struggle to meet Chicago’s asking price. A more realistic possibility that’s been discussed is Canadiens right winger Josh Anderson. The Canadiens are rumored to be seeking another early draft choice and could send Anderson as part of the compensation.
While Anderson isn’t the slam dunk improvement fans are hoping for, he presents a viable option to improve goal scoring. His 19 goals last year would’ve been third on the team. He’s a player who can come in and fit right into the Islanders system and also score close to 20 goals. Other names to keep an eye on include J.T. Miller of the Canucks and Jakob Chychrun of the Coyotes. These seem to be the main contenders for a draft pick trade, but other options could emerge as we inch nearer to the draft. It’s also worth noting that the draft presents a good opportunity for a potential salary dump trade for the Islanders. This leaves the potential for players like Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey or Semyon Varlamov to be traded to open up more cap space for offseason spending.
Featured image courtesy of NHL
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