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The Long Road Begins With the First Win

Written by islanders  |  01. January 2000

by Bob Zambuto

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.

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