The New York Islanders have missed the playoffs for the last two seasons and enter a crucial offseason that could shift the foundation of the franchise.
John Tavares is set to become an unrestricted free agent and it remains to be seen if he will re-up with the Islanders. Losing Tavares would set them back, but at least Mathew Barzal showed that he could become a franchise player during his rookie campaign.
The Islanders gave up the most goals (3.57 GA/PG) in the NHL last season and likely would have liked to land one of the defensemen at the top of this draft. The Islanders have the No.11 and No.12 pick, as well as two second round picks, so they have the flexibility to move up in the draft if they want to. If they stay at No.11 and No.12, the Islanders will likely add two forwards because they don’t want to reach too far for a defenseman.
With the No.11 Overall Pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the New York Islanders select…
Barrett Hayton — C — Canada ????????
Barzal is the future of the Islanders and will rack up points in bunches and Hayton projects to be the future second/third line centre behind Barzal. Hayton owns an excellent two-way game but posted solid offensive numbers in his second OHL season. The 6-foot-1, 185 lbs. centre collected 21 goals with 39 assists (60 points) in 63 games with Sault Ste. Marie.
Hayton isn’t the fastest skater, but has an extremely high hockey-IQ and makes the game look simple. A fair comparison to Hayton, is Anaheim Ducks’ centre Adam Henrique.
He may not be a defenseman, but his excellent play in his own zone will help the Islanders limit the opposition in the future. Hayton will return to the Greyhounds in 2019 and take on a bigger role in his third season. This pick might not make a big splash, but Hayton is a low-risk, high-reward draft pick that can do anything you ask of him.
“Hayton (6-1, 190) knows where to locate linemates as a natural playmaking center; he had 60 points (21 goals, 39 assists) in 63 games this season. He has great hockey sense, can play the power play or penalty kill and is projected to transition into a solid two-way NHL center.” — Mike Morreale (NHL.com)
“Hayton is a heady two-way center that drives opponents batty with his rapid directional changes and ability to thread the needle with his passes. His straight-line speed probably is the one thing preventing him from being talked about as a lock for the top five, but Hayton checks every other block.” — Steve Kournianos (SportingNews)