Welcome to Last Word’s Draft Boom and Bust series. As the 2020 NHL Entry Draft approaches, we decided to examine each team’s best and worst pick since the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. The biggest boom is a player that had the best value relative to where they were selected. Meaning, no one in the first round will be considered a team’s best value pick. However, the biggest bust picks will almost always be in the first round. We will examine each player, why they were picked where they were, and what their NHL career was like. Today, we look at the New York Islanders draft, and their biggest boom and bust.
New York Islanders Draft Boom and Bust
Anders Lee was drafted by the Islanders in the sixth round, 152nd overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. After his draft year he spent a year playing for the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL. That season, Lee recorded 35 goals and 31 assists for 66 points in 59 games. Lee then spent the next three seasons playing college hockey for Notre Dame in the CCHA. In 125 games, Lee scored 61 goals and added 55 assists for 116 points. After finishing up his final year in college, Lee made the jump to the NHL.
Lee made his debut during the 2012-13 season. In the two games he played to close out the regular season, Lee registered a goal and an assist. A solid start for the youngster. The following season Lee split time between the NHL and AHL, however, spent the majority of the year playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Lee produced solid numbers for both teams. For the Islanders, Lee scored nine goals and five assists for 14 points in 22 games.
It wasn’t until the 2014-15 season that Lee finally became a fulltime player for the Islanders. After playing five games in the AHL and registering five points in five games, Lee got the call to join the Islanders and never looked back. In his first full season with the club, Lee exploded scoring 25 goals and 41 points in 76 games. Not bad for your first NHL season.
Since then Lee has been a solid point producer for the Islanders. He’s lead the team in goals for three of the last four seasons, finishing second the Brock Nelson this season. He has at least 20 goals in every season but one since he made the jump to the NHL. He also hit the 30 goal plateau twice and the 40 goal mark once. Over the course of his career, Lee has logged 493 games for the Islanders scoring 172 goals and 129 assists for 301 points. Lee is currently sitting in eighth in goals scored from his draft class, however, he has played a lot fewer games than the seven players ahead of him.
Locking up the Captain
On October 4th, 2018, Lee was named the captain of the Islanders replacing John Tavares after he left for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The following offseason, Lee committed longterm with the Islanders earning a seven-year, $49 million contract. It was said Lee left money on the table elsewhere in order to show his loyalty and stick it out with the team who drafted him. Because of his production, his leadership abilities and his draft position, Lee earns our biggest boom for the Islanders since 2000.
Other Notable Booms
Jared Spurgeon was a name we looked at as the biggest boom as well but came up just short. However, he certainly gets an honourable mention. Spurgeon never did play nor earn a contract from the Islanders after the Islanders drafted him in the sixth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Despite this, he has become a very serviceable NHL defenceman. He has become one of the top defencemen on the Minnesota Wild scoring 82 goals and 198 assists for 280 points in 653 games. His play earned him a long term deal with the Wild, signing a seven-year, $53 million deal on September 14th, 2019.
Matt Martin deserves an honourable mention as well. A fifth-round pick in 2008, Martin has gone on to have a very respectable career. Despite not being as prolific as the other names mentioned, Martin has become a solid bottom line presence for the Islanders over his career. Martin spent time with the Islanders from 2009 to 2016 before former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello signed him to a four-year deal. Lamoriello clearly liked what he saw from Martin, as after he was named Islanders GM in 2018, he acquired the rugged forward via trade in the offseason of 2018. In 692 career games, Martin has scored 61 goals and 70 assists for 131 points. He has also registered 946 penalty minutes.
The biggest bust the Islanders have had since 2000 has to be Griffin Reinhart. Reinhart was such a promising prospect, being selected fourth overall in the 2012 NHL Entry draft. However, he never lived up to the hype. The biggest heartbreak for the Islanders is immediately after Reinhart was picked, the Maple Leafs picked Morgan Rielly. We all know how that story went. However, hindsight is 20/20.
Reinhart spent his junior career playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL. He had a solid junior career and looked like he would be the defenceman of the future for the Islanders. However, he only managed to dress in eight total games for the Islanders registering one point.
Reinhart was then dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a first and second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. This trade ended up being a massive win for the Islanders, as they used the first-round selection to draft Mathew Barzal arguably the Islanders’ best player at the moment. Reinhart played 29 games for the Oilers that season, registering just one point. And that was the last we saw of Griffin Reinhart in the NHL.
Reinhart was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft in 2017, however, never dressed for them. He spent last season playing for the Kunlun Red Star in the KHL where he registered two assists in 33 games.
All in all, Reinhart was an absolute bust for the Islanders. Only appearing in 37 career NHL games and scoring two points, Reinhart earns the biggest bust for the Islanders since 2000. At least they managed to salvage the pick though by picking up Barzal.
Other Notable Busts
After being drafted 15th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, there was a ton of promise for Ryan O’Marra. However, much like Griffin Reinhart, failed to live up to the hype. And much like Reinhart, was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in a massive deal that sent Ryan Smyth to the Islanders. Once again, the Oilers came to the rescue to save the Islanders from their bust. O’Marra only managed to appear in 33 career NHL games between the Oilers and Anaheim Ducks, scoring one goal and six assists.
Although Joshua Ho-Sang is still young and has the potential to become an everyday NHL player, he should have been there by now. The hype around Ho-Sang was massive coming out of his draft. He is immensely skilled and had a solid junior career between the Windsor Spitfires and the Niagara Ice Dogs. However, Ho-Sang has not been able to translate the same production at the NHL level. And a lot of this is thought to be because of his poor attitude.
Ho-Sang has only managed to play 53 career games with the Islanders so far. He did not appear in a single NHL game during the 2019-20 season. Ho-Sang is set to become an RFA at the end of this season. There is a good chance he has played his last game in an Islanders uniform. While there is still time for Ho-Sang to make the jump to the NHL, the window is closing. Ho-Sang certainly has not lived up to the hype and is deserving of his mention as a bust for the club.