Hello everyone! It's been a little while, but I'm here to talk about what transpired in Pittsburgh in the Consol Energy Center. The Islanders could have hired LeBron James for this draft, because they selected not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but seven defenseman. With the first pick, they selected Griffin Reinhart, the 6-4, 207 pound 18 year old from the Edmenton Oil Kings of the WHL.
I thought that Ryan Murray would drop to the number 4 spot, but I was clearly wrong about that one as he went #2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Expect Murray to start the season on the blue line there, seeing as they were easily the worst team in the league this season on both ends of the puck. But this article isn't about the Blue Jackets, or Ryan Murray. Instead, it's about what the Islanders did at the draft that made them a better team, starting with the trade to acquire Lubomir Visnovsky. Lubo is a 36 year old defenseman that was acquired for next year's second round pick. He stands at 5'10, 185 pounds and is a speedy skater who has a knack for scoring points. He is a bonafied #2 defenseman, but he and Mark Streit's play styles are similar, so I don't think we'll see them partnered together.
Griffin Reinhart is a solid 2 way defenseman who had a +14 rating in 20 playoff games, which should be a good showing of his composure in big situations. Last year in 58 games, he had 36 points, 38 PIM, and a +23 rating for the Oil Kings. With the acquisition of Visnovsky, the fact that Streit is a scorer as well, and that we have Calvin de Haan who might steal the 6th spot on defense, offensive defenseman are not on top of the Islanders' needs right now. Instead, we need big bodies that can hit and aren't afraid to get in the dirty areas. Someone like Milan Jurcina, but isn't afraid of contact. Someone like Griffin Reinhart. His father, Paul Reinhart, was also a first round pick in the NHL draft to the then Atlanta Flames, at 12th overall. He was also a defenseman, and over the course of his career he scored 560 points in 648 games. If Griffin can emulate even a half of what his father did I'll be happy.
Now, a lot of people, including myself have stated that they want help on the blue line right away. Visnovsky is surely going to help a young D, but we still only have 4 returning players (Lubo, Streit, Hamonic, Macdonald). Jurcina, Eaton, and Staois are all UFA's and Staois has retired already. So, what to do about the other two spots? Reinhart will be a great player, but is he ready? In terms of size, he is big enough for the league, but skillwise we'll hopefully get our first look at his skills at the Blue and White Scrimmage on Thursday. The team also has other defensive prospects who could crack the roster, such as Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan, Scott Mayfield, Aaron Ness, and Ty Wishart. The team could also attempt to trade for establised talent with some of these prospects, or sign some veterans that are available. Some notable names to look out for are Pavel Kubina, Hal Gill, and Dennis Wideman. I'd love to see any of these 3 be signed to play this upcoming season on the blue line. In fact, Hal Gill's size and strength matched with either Mark Streit or Visnovsky would make for a good pairing, as Gill is slower but a big hitter. Regardless, the offseason is still extremely young and many things could happen.
The rest of the Islanders draft looked like this:
2nd round: Ville Pokka, defenseman from Karpat in Finland
3rd round: Adam Pelech, defenseman from Erie in the OHL
4th round (via BUF): Loic Ludic, defenseman from Cape Breton in the QMJHL
5th round: Doyle Somerby, defenseman from Kimball Union in High-NH (this could be the sleeper pick of the Islanders draft. Stands in at 6'5, 232 pounds and has a verbal commitment to Boston University)
6th round: Jesse Graham, defenseman from Niagra of the OHL
7th round: Jake Bischoff, defenseman from Grand Rapids in High-MN
How do you fans feel about the Reinhart pick? Excited to see Visnovsky play? Let me know in the comments below! Also, if you're unfamiliar with Lubomir Visnovksy, you can check out some highlights of him below! Credit to Elfster1000 on Youtube for the video.