The New York Islanders are a young up and coming franchise. The plan from the initial dispersal draft last year was to build young, but when many veterans like Roberto Luongo, Henrik Sedin, and Dan Girardi were on the board, the Isles felt they had to grab them. After a failed playoff push with that group, Sedin and Girardi along with superstar Vladimir Tarasenko were traded for young studs Connor McDavid, Joel Eriksson-Ek, and picks. Following another trade yesterday moving Justin Williams out of town, New York had 4 first round picks and feel they got excellent players to add to the deep prospect pool with each pick.
Olli Juolevi – D – 1st Round – 7th Overall
With their first pick, the Islanders selected the best defenceman in the draft in Juolevi. A blueline that is already built around Seth Jones, Madison Bowey, and Griffin Reinhart, adding Olli will become a great addition to round out the top 4 for years to come. He is a well-rounded, complete defender who is well known for his hockey sense and offensive skills, but excels in skating and the defensive zone as well. Could develop into a top line defender and Seth Jones’ linemate on Long Island in the near future.
Tyler Benson – LW – 1st Round – 20th Overall
Benson was very high on the Islanders draft list, however in a season dogged by nagging injuries, scouts had him pegged as a top 15 talent, but because of limited viewings, he was viewed as a second round pick. New York traded back 2 spots, but realizing he may not last to their next pick, they took him a little early. Benson is a natural goal scorer and also defensively responsible, but a bit of a wildcard due to his injury concerns. With the Isles quite deep at forward in the prospect pool, they were more than willing to take the risk he will develop into a solid two-way winger at the NHL level.
Lucas Johansen – D – 1st Round – 27th Overall
Adding to the high top end pool on the blue line, Johansen was too good to pass up. He comes from the great Kelowna Rocket program which has seen NHL’ers Shea Weber, Tyler Myers, Alex Edler, among many others. With his ex-partner on the blueline Madison Bowey in the organization, and the brother of NHL star Ryan Johansen, selecting Lucas just made too much sense. Like Juolevi, he is a very smart and calm defender who is a strong skater and produce offense. Johansen and Bowey would be a great second pairing behind Jones and Juolevi for many years to come.
Rasmus Asplund – C – 1st Round – 28th Overall
Asplund appears to be a safe pick for New York, one who may not be a future superstar, but could be a very useful piece at both ends of the rink. The Islanders were scouting a few different forwards with this pick, but his play at the World Juniors as well as the belief he will be a very effective player in the NHL for a number of years put him ahead of the pack. Asplund is a fast skater, with a quick and accurate shot who projects to be a middle 6 center at the NHL level. After selecting the wildcard in Benson, a little safer pick in Asplund made for good balance to close out the first round.