Islanders Sign Another 1999 First Round Draft Pick
Islanders fans have a lot to be excited about this fall, when their team laces up for the start of the 2000-2001 season. For the first time in what feels like eternity, there is an ownership committed to a genuine run at the playoffs, rather than smoke and mirrors while hoping to sneak in the back door. The team has made several moves in order to set themselves up for their first berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 1994. The Islanders took another step by signing another of their four 1999 first round draft picks, Taylor Pyatt.
Taylor Pyatt was selected 8th overall in the 1999 NHL Entry draft. The Islanders acquired the pick from the Los Angeles Kings as part of the package that included Ziggy Palffy. On that early summer day in June, Gordie Clark, the Islanders' Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel, announced the Islanders' selection of Nelson Pyatt, an accidental reference to Taylor's father, who played 296 games in the NHL for the Detroit Redwings, the Washington Capitals, and the since extinct Colorado Rockies between 1973 and 1980 (source: http://www.hockeydb.com).
At 6'3", 220lbs, this not yet 19-year old monster is ready to make his Islanders debut in training camp at Lake Placid this September. Pyatt is a power forward that attacks from the left wing. And boy can he skate! In fact, in 1999, he won the fastest skater competition at the CHL's Top Prospects Game.
Pyatt's speedy skating is accompanied by soft hands and rock solid fists. His penalty minutes have not been that high for a power forward, but according to Blaine Smith, Vice-President of Hockey Operations for Pyatt's OHL Sudbury Wolves there are two reasons for the relatively low numbers. For one thing, upon entering the league, Pyatt established a reputation rather quickly and few opponents are willing to square off with him. Secondly, Smith says, with his scoring ability, "the last thing you want him to do is end up in the box for five minutes a game."
Amassing 89 points in 68 games, and with a league-leading plus/minus rating of +47, it is no wonder the coaches do not want Pyatt in the penalty box. Adding his skill on specialty teams, this first-team All Star scored 5 goals short-handed, and 9 on the power play, not to mention 8 game winners. It is no wonder the Islanders are so high on his abilities.
Offensively prolific and defensively sound, Pyatt is destined for a bright future in the NHL. A player in the mold of another young fan favorite, Brad Isbister, he will battle hard for a spot on the left wing in the upcoming season. Should his bid be successful, he will join Tim Connolly, another one of the Islanders four first round picks in 1999, on one of the youngest, and fastest rising teams in the NHL.