The NHL Draft began last night where 31 players were selected in the first round of the draft. The Islanders did not have a selection yesterday because, in the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade, the Senators acquired the Islanders’ first-round and second-round picks. They made their first selection in the third round and it was surprising, to say the least.
The Isles Select a Winger for their First Pick
About three and a half hours into the draft, the Islanders made their first selection. Alexander Ljungkrantz was selected out of Brynas IF in Sweeden. Ljungkrantz is projected to be a solid, bottom-six forward who plays two-way hockey and has an outstanding work ethic. His hockey-style seems to mesh well with the two-way hockey system Barry Trotz has implemented. He has drawn comparisons to devils forward Jesper Bratt but seemed to be a stretch considering he was projected to be a late 4th or early 5th round selection.
Islanders Grab Goal-Scoring Winger with their 4th Round Selection
The Islanders definitely need to improve their goal scoring in the upcoming season. They drafted a notable contributor to the scoresheet while he was in juniors. Alex Jefferies was selected by the Isles and will hopefully address the need for scoring in the future. In 32 games, Jefferies had 33 goals and 69 points meaning he averaged over two-point a game for his juniors team. Jefferies describes himself as a goal-scoring winger believing in his shot and vision.
The Isles Select their Third Straight Winger
In the fifth round of the NHL Draft, general manager, Lou Lamoriello, selected another winger. William Dufour is a playmaker despite his size. Dufour averaged just under a point per game in the Canadien Hockey League this season. He has been rising in value as the drat went on, so the Islanders made sure to grab him while they still could. Surprisingly, Lamoriello went with wingers for his first three picks when the team desperately needs center-depth.
Islanders Grab Defensemen
The Islanders drafted Matias Rajaniemi in the sixth round of the draft. Rajaniemi is a Finnish defenseman with a big six foot four frame. He earned powerplay time towards the end of the season on the top-unit due to his hard slap-shot. Rajaniemi also has success shutting down the offense coming his way. The Islanders have been known for targeting tall defensemen such as Zdeno Chara who happened to have an amazing career so only time will tell of Rajaniemi’s success.
Lamoriello Fails to Adress Center-Depth with their Last Selection of the Draft
The Isles select a goalie with their final pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Finnish goaltender, Henri Tikkanen has had moments of success throughout his juniors career. Tikkanen had an extraordinary in 2015-2016 but has regressed somewhat since then. If Tikkanen can get his career back on track under one of the best goalie coaches in the NHL, he has the potential to be a draft steal for the Islanders.
Takeaways from the Draft
The Islanders do not pick up a much-needed center in the draft which is very questionable. The team has a lot of depth at other positions, but not so much for centers. For example, the Islanders inked Iyla Sorokin to a contract he’s supposed to be their superstar goalie for years to come. The Isles have a decent amount of wingers and defensemen in their system so some of the picks do not quite add up. Also, it seems that the front office was invested in European prospects with 3 of their 5 picks being European.