Shortly after announcing he was keeping the fifth overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Isles GM Garth Snow said he’d be willing to part with it.
When asked if he is willing to deal the pick, Snow hardly let his questioner finish before saying, “Absolutely. We’re open to any deal that might make the team better.
“If that’s trading the pick for a player, standing pat and picking a quality player at No. 5, or trading it to move up or down, we’re open.”
The Islanders had the option to send this year’s first-rounder to Buffalo (from the Thomas Vanek trade), or defer to next year’s draft instead. On Thursday, Snow made his decision to keep the No. 5 and give the Sabres his ’15 first-rounder, which comes with a risk as it could be a lottery ticket to the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel sweepstakes.
In explaining the move, Snow told Newsday the Isles “don’t see ourselves being in this position again next year,” saying he expects a return to the form 2011-12, when the team made the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.
As such, it’s not surprising Snow trotted out the “open for business” line regarding the fifth overall selection. There are questions about the depth and high-end talent available at this year’s draft, with some pundits suggesting there’s a dropoff after trio of players vying for the first overall spot: OHL Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, WHL Kootenay forward Sam Reinhart and OHL Kingston forward Sam Bennett, who finished atop the final NHL Central Scouting rankings for the ’14 draft.
Snow could move the No. 5 pick for a player that would help the Isles immediately, though he wouldn’t be the only GM going that route. Florida’s Dale Tallon, who holds the first overall selection, has said he will “definitely” be shopping the pick; Tallon also stated on various occasions he’d like to obtain some veteran players to compliment the Panthers’ young core.