We are now in our third month of no live sports and no concrete indication of how, when, or where leagues such as the NHL are going to resume play in the near future.
Nevertheless, the NHL is moving forward with plans to hold its annual Draft, and fans are awaiting details on how this event will be held.
There has been little real discussion on whether or not the major sports leagues – NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and even MLS will survive the current COVID-19 pandemic. Sports are an integral part of our culture and a reflection of our own hopes and dreams.
The real burden on sports from the professional level down to youth play is how can we re-start sports safely?
The NHL is moving through talks about how to resume the 2019-20 season, complete the regular season and develop a playoff scenario in order to award a Stanley Cup this year before the 2020-21 season arrives.
While the NHL and the NHLPA are still working through the mechanics of how and when this season resumption will occur, plans for the NHL Draft are moving on to eventual fruition.
The NHL will more than likely use the virtual draft model developed recently by the NFL and league personnel, team personnel and individual players will all be separated from each other and announce player selections using video broadcasts. The NHL is still working on a June virtual draft date and hopefully, that date will become public soon.
For the Islanders, there is little to cheer about in the first and second rounds since they traded those 2020 picks in exchange for a deal to bring Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators over to the Isles prior to the season suspension.
Many mock drafts have been discussed at length and the Islanders still have substantial picks in the third through seventh rounds.
Finnish goaltender Joel Blomqvist is predicted to be the top pick for the Islanders in this year’s draft. Blomqvist, a 6’1″, 176 lb. netminder who plays for the Karpat Oulu junior team in Finland. Blomqvist has been rated as the #3 European goalie in the draft by the NHL and looks to be a good project goalie for the future of the Islanders.
Another top predicted pick for the Islanders is Trevor Kuntar. Kuntar is a left-winger out of Youngstown in the USHL and will again be a long-term project for the Isles as Kuntar has also committed to go to school and play at Harvard in the fall.
The Islanders will need to keep tabs on Kuntar’s development and hopefully, the NCAA will bring hockey along with other sports back starting this fall.
Complementing Kuntar on the right side is Noah Boyko. Boyko is a 6’1″, 176-pounder out of Lethbridge in the WHL. Boyko will truly be a long term project for the Islanders given the fact that he is only 17 years old but appears on GM Lou Lamoriello’s radar screen as a potential offensive weapon down the road.
Joining Boyko is a fellow Canadian teenager Tristen Robins. Robins is another talent coming out of the WHL and plays for the Saskatoon Blades.
Robins is currently 5’11” and 174 lbs. which means he will have to develop physically to play center in the NHL.
The theme of drafting Finnish goalies seems to be recurring for the Islanders as the last draft pick projects that junior netminder Juho Markkanen is on the Isles selection board. Markkanen just turned 18 last month and is a raw goaltender who stands 6’1.5″ and only weighs 147 lbs, so Markkanen will have to build up some serious muscle in order to handle the rigors of professional hockey in North America.
The Islanders have a tradition of developing young netminders and countrymen Blomqvist and Markkanen (note: Markkanen played for the Finnish U-18 team but was born in Edmonton, AB) both look to be the long-term future of the Isles while protecting the pipes.
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