Does Isles GM Garth Snow Know How To Draft?

Does Isles GM Garth Snow Know How To Draft?
Sebastian Noren

Garth Snow is celebrating nine years as General Manager for the New York Islanders. The team is enjoying a great season on the ice and starting next season they will be playing in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. Seems fitting that Snow will start his 10th year at the helm at a new arena as the Nassau Coliseum is the most outdated arena in the league according to many experts and fans.

So right now everything is sunshine and rainbows for Snow and his team, but let’s take a look at Snow’s record as far as drafting. We’ll take a look at all the 1st-round picks that the Islanders have done under Snow’s reign.

2006: The Isles drafted Kyle Okposo, but Snow didn’t take over from previous GM Neil Smith until after the draft, so we can’t give Snow credit for Okposo, who has been a good player for the Isles for several years now and has a good chemistry with superstar John Tavares.

2007: No 1st-round pick.

2008: Josh Bailey (F) (9th overall):

Bailey lit up the OHL in his final year with the Windsor Spirit as he had 96 points (29 goals and 67 assists) in 67 games. The Islanders picked Bailey at number nine after trading down twice in the draft (first from fifth to seventh and then seventh to ninth).

Bailey has been a mainstay in the Islanders lineup since the 2008/2009 season with the exclusion of a small stint with Bridgeport in the AHL during the 2010/2011 season when he needed to regain some confidence after coming back from injury and going scoreless for 13 games with the Isles. Bailey scored 17 points in 11 games in the AHL and was promptly called back up. He’s a versatile player that can play on both wings. Right now he’s enjoying time on the top line with Tavares and Okposo.

Verdict: Solid pick. Bailey has 213 points (80 goals and 133 assists) in 464 career games. Although in hindsight, the Isles could have drafted a franchise player in Erik Karlsson (14th overall) or All-Star Jordan Eberle (22nd overall), the choice of Bailey was a good one at the time.



John Tavares (F) (1st overall)

Tavares was a lock to go first overall in the 2009 draft, and the Isles got a superstar in the making. Tavares has God-given talent, and is now one of the biggest and brightest stars in the league. He was a beast in juniors, scoring a total of 433 points (215 goals and 218 assists) in 247 games with the Oshawa Generals in the OHL. Tavares has exceptional playmaking abilities and one of the best shots in the game. Snow was really smart to lock Tavares up on a long contract after his entry-level deal expired and the Isles have him on a steal with a cap hit of $5.5 million until the end of the 2017/2018 season. Tavares has an impressive 387 points (169 goals and 218 assists) in 420 NHL games.


Calvin de Haan (D) (12th overall)

Calvin de Haan also represented the Oshawa Generals in the OHL and put up really good numbers for a defenseman with 135 points (19 goals and 116 assists) in 157 games. As you can tell by those numbers he isn’t a guy that will blast away from the point, but he has some playmaking abilities from the blue line.

This is the first season where we have seen de Haan spend the whole season. He missed pretty much the whole 2012/2013 season after dislocating his shoulder, and the following season he played 51 games for the Isles and 17 for Bridgeport. With Nick Leddy out with an injury, de Haan is currently playing next to Johnny Boychuck in the first defensive pairing.

Verdict: Good job. The injury he suffered clearly halted de Haan’s development, but he’s showing this season that he’s deserving of a spot in the lineup and he does a solid job on the back end. He’s a defensive defenseman that will continue to grow.



Nino Niederreiter (F) (5th overall)

After coming over from Switzerland to play junior hockey with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL, the winger went 5th overall in the 2010 draft, ahead of players like Jeff Skinner, Vladimir Tarasenko and current teammate Mikael Granlund. Nino didn’t have successful spell with the Isles and was traded at the 2013 draft day to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Cal Clutterbuck and a 3rd-round pick.

This turned things around for Niederreiter in Minnesota and he’s heading towards a career year this season  as he has 33 points in 66 games (will most likely beat his career best of 36 points he had last season).

Verdict: Mistake. Trading Niederreiter was not the best move, if Snow and the coaching staff would have had a little more patience, then I have no doubt that Nino would have found his groove and blossomed with the Isles.


Brock Nelson (F) (30th overall)

After representing the University of North Dakota for two seasons in the NCAA, Nelson took the step to senior hockey after the Isles drafted him with the last pick in the first round. He spent the 2012/2013 season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and scored 25 goals and 27 assists in 66 games. After the season was over with Bridgeport, Nelson featured in one playoff game for the Isles.

In his rookie season last year with the Islanders, Nelson had 26 points (14 goals and 12 assists) in 72 games. He’s already surpassed that point total this season, as he currently sits at 39 points (18 goals and 21 assists) in 69 games.  Can play center or winger depending on where the need is. With Mikhail Grabovski injured and Frans Nielsen being a healthy scratch last game, Nelson got the opportunity to center the second line.

Verdict: Nicely done. Snow made a really good pick with Nelson, and he might very well have a solid 20+ goal scorer for many years to come.



Ryan Strome (F) (5th overall)

Strome was something else when he represented the Niagara IceDogs in the OHL. With 295 points (105 goals and 190 assists) in 225 games, he was one of many highly-touted prospects in a stacked 2011 draft. The Islanders took him with the fifth overall pick, and he played 10 games for Bridgeport 2012/2013 after he had finished up the season with the IceDogs. Last season he split time between Bridgeport and New York, and the time spent in Bridgeport definitely seem to have been time well spent for Strome.

This season he has really taking a big step in his development, and at the time of this writing he has 43 points (14 goals and 29 assists) in 69 games for the Isles. He will be a healthy scratch for the Isles’ game against Montreal on Saturday, but I have no doubt he will be back in the lineup soon.

Verdict: Superb pick. There were a lot of talented players for Snow to choose among in the 2011 draft, but he seems to have done the right thing by picking Strome. With his speed and playmaking abilities he has the tools to be a real pain for any defense in the league.



Griffin Reinhart (D) (4th overall)

Besides having one of the coolest names in hockey, Reinhart was the first defenseman that Snow picked with the first pick in the draft during his time at the helm. Reinhart has good size to him (listed at 6’4” and 217lbs) and is very good in the defensive end. He got a taste for the NHL as they tested him for eight games this season. He will be given time to develop in the AHL and will definitely be challenging for a roster spot in the near future.

Verdict: Good. Reinhart has the potential to become a really good shutdown defenseman, and as long as they don’t rush him, I believe that he will be a great asset for this team going forward.



Ryan Pulock (D) (15th overall)

Young Ryan Pulock had incredible numbers for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL with 210 points (64 goals and 146 assists) in 261 games as a defenseman. Pulock is enjoying his first full season with the Sound Tigers in the AHL after getting into three games last season. He has a heck of a shot and can with the right development become a really good two-way NHL defenseman.

Verdict: Promising. It’s too early to tell if Snow hit the jackpot with Pulock, but if he can improve his skating a bit, then he can become a solid player on both ends of the ice. With his hard shot, he could definitely become an asset on the Isles’ power play.



Michael Dal Colle (F) (5th overall)

Dal Colle has been described as a bull, and he sure looks to be an elite talent. He’s currently with the Oshawa Generals in the OHL where he has 84 points (37 goals and 47 assists) in 50 games. If he can translate his type of game to the senior level, then the Islanders might have a proper power forward on their hands.

Verdict: Very promising. Dal Colle looks like the real deal, and if he is given time to adjust to playing against men, then he could be the next big thing for the Isles. Just imagine him on a line with Tavares and Okposo.


Joshua Ho-Sang (F) (28th overall)

Ho-Sang was probably one of the most skilled players in the 2014 draft, but because of rumors about his character he fell down to 28th when the Islanders decided to take a gamble. With 61 goals and 141 assists in 184 OHL games (Ho-Sang has represented the Windsor Spitfires and is currently with the Niagara IceDogs) there’s no doubt that this guy knows how to play. If he can check his ego at the door, Snow might have found a diamond I the rough in Ho-Sang.

Verdict: High risk, potential high reward. As long as Ho-Sang can adapt and get in line, the Isles might have a future star in their fold. Risky, but he has exceptional talent so I think it was worth for Snow to take a gamble on Josh.

Overall verdict: Great job. Snow seems to know what he’s doing, with the exception of Niederreiter, and this New York Islanders team will be very interesting to follow in the years to come. They already have a solid team and have been one of the big surprises this season and it’s only fitting that the crowds at Nassau Coliseum gets to see some playoff hockey before the team moves to Brooklyn.

Sebastian Noren

Swede living in America for the past nine years. Producer at ESPN Radio in Bakersfield, CA. Covers the Arizona Coyotes for Swedish-based Host of SvenskaFans’ NHL podcast (in Swedish), and can also be heard on Real Hockey Talk on AM1480 KPHX on Saturdays at noon MT. Arizona State University graduate.

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