Mark this date in your calendar, Islanders fans. June 1, 2000; the New York Islanders become the first team in the 5 year history of the NHLDraft Lottery to win the first overall pick in the League's annual Entry Draft! For only the third time in the 28 year history of the team, the Isles possess the #1 pick overall. Thus marks the beginning of the Era of Charles Wang and Sanjay Kumar as the Islanders owners. The Tradition of Victory is being reborn.
In 1972, the Islanders used their first ever pick, the #1 over-all,
to select Billy Harris. One year later, they used the very first pick to
draft Denis Potvin, the All-Star Defenseman who Captained the team to four
consecutive Stanley Cup Championships.
The Draft Lottery began in 1995, but up until now, no team has ever
wont he first pick overall. The Islanders, with a mere 8% chance, leaped
ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers, expansion Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue
Jackets, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
General consensus around the league is that the #1 pick will be used
to select either the 19-year old left wing from Canada Dany Heatley or
18-year old left wing Slovak Marian Gaborik. Heatley is a strong power
forward with very soft hands, but has been knocked for his skating ability.
Gaborik has all the tools as a small and speedy snyper, however, some have
questioned his desire.
Another possibility is that the Islanders may trade the top pick for
an established NHLer. The Isles are looking for a scoring centerman and a
veteran defenseman. The pick could be used for trade bait to fill either
one of these holes. Atop many fans' wish lists are Teemu Selanne of the
Mighty Ducks and and Senators hold-out, Alexi Yashin.
There is no doubt General Manager Mike Milbury's phones will become
increasingly active in the weeks leading up to the top pick in the 2000
NHL Entry Draft. June 24 promises to be a major day in Islanders History.
The Future of Hockey is getting brighter on Long Island.