For the second year in a row, the Islanders hold the fifth overall pick in the draft. In the days leading up to the draft, speculation as to who the Islanders will select will only increase, but let's take a look beyond the top 10.
Below are some potential late first-rounders the Islanders may find intriguing--should they move down or package other mid-round picks to get back into the first round--as well as some possible mid-round players of interest.
Joseph Morrow (D, Portland)—One of four Winterhawks ranked by the NHL’s Central Scouting, Morrow would be an attractive “get” if he slips beyond his No. 12 ranking. Last June, the Islanders packaged two second-round picks to move up and grab Brock Nelson at No. 30. If this 6-foot offensive-minded defenseman is still available late in the first round, the Islanders might jump at the opportunity to do something similar. Morrow, a teammate of fellow Isles prospect Nino Niederreiter, had nine goals and 40 assists in 60 games of the Winterhawks this season.
Mario Lucia (LW, HS-Minn)—Similar to Isles prospect Brock Nelson, Lucia dominated in Minnesota high school hockey with 25 goals and 22 assists in 24 games played for Wayzata high school. A gamble considering the level of competition Lucia has faced, but the Islanders were willing to take that chance last June with Nelson, who had a strong freshman season at University of North Dakota this year. Lucia, a heady power-forward with good hands and shot, also comes from a good hockey pedigree; University of Minnesota Men’s Hockey head coach Don Lucia is his father. Projected to go late first-round or early second.
T.J. Tynan (C, Notre Dame)—As one Eastern Conference scout described him, Tynan is a pure “go-with-your-gut” type of player. Similar to Rocco Grimaldi in the sense that his size is a deterrent, but he is tough to root against. Dynamic, play-making center who was a late addition to Notre Dame (he originally planned to defer until 2011-12 and return to his USHL team, the Des Moines Buccaneers) and had a very impressive freshman season playing with fellow Islanders prospect Anders Lee. Recently invited to the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp. Don’t be completely fooled by his size. Said one Western Conference scout who projected him to go in the middle rounds: “He has a ton of skill and for a guy his size, he’s pretty fearless.”
Brennan Serville (D, Stouffville)—The 6-foot-2, 184-pound defenseman was limited in the first half of the season with injury but finished with three goals and 27 assists in 36 games for the Stouffville Spirit of the OJHL. Committed to University of Michigan for next season, Serville saw his mid-season rank jump from 145 to 104 in the final rankings. The Islanders have noticed the solid two-way defenseman and met with him at the NHL combine last week. Projected to be taken anywhere from the second to fifth round.
Matthew Nieto (LW, Boston University)—A product of the US National Development Program, Nieto is a forward with good speed. Although he took a little longer to adjust to the college game, the Long Beach, California native earned top-two-line minutes by the end of the season at BU, where he finished with 10 goals and 13 assists in 39 games.