Sure, Lou Lamoriello would have liked to have selected higher in the NHL Draft. But, with no trade opportunities he deemed worthwhile, the Islanders president and general manager believes the five picks made on Wednesday as the virtual two-day draft concluded will bolster the organization’s depth and size.
"The objective going in is trying to get the best possible players available that will allow you to sort of stockpile your assets as far as development goes," said Lamoriello, who sent his first- and second-round pick to the Senators for Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline on Feb. 24. "That’s exactly what transpired today."
It took approximately eight hours to conduct rounds 2-7 on Wednesday, about twice as long as usual when the draft is held in person. The Islanders took 6-1, 185-pound Swedish forward Alexander Ljungkrantz with their first pick at No. 90 in the third round.
"I would say I’m a speedy forward who works hard, creates goal opportunities," said Ljungkrantz, who had 15 goals and 12 assists in the J20 SuperElit league last season. "I would say I have a bit left to learn. It will be a process."
Massachusetts-born left wing Alex Jefferies, a 6-foot, 194-pound freshman at Merrimack College, was selected in the fourth round at No. 121. Another forward, 6-3, 200-pound William Dufour from Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, was taken in the fifth round at No. 152.
Defenseman Matias Rajaniemi, a 6-4, 201-pounder from Finland, was taken in the sixth round at No. 183 and 6-8 Finnish goalie Henrik Tikkanen was selected in the seventh round at No. 214.
"It was unusual," Lamoriello said of a virtual draft held in deference to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We didn’t have one hitch today. On one screen, we had all our scouts and we were communicating throughout the day. It was probably one of the longest draft days I’ve experienced but all went well."
Lamoriello indicated the Islanders would not be hosting their usual offseason development camp for prospects since many of them have already started their next season.
And after the Islanders loaned former first-round picks Simon Holmstrom and Oliver Wahlstrom to teams in Sweden, Lamoriello said more players may be loaned to Europe to keep them playing while the NHL and AHL waits for their next season to begin.
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association on Tuesday announced a target date of Jan. 1 for the new season.
"I certainly do think we’ll be playing hockey," said Lamoriello, adding Islanders players have begun their offseason workouts after the Islanders’ playoff run ended on Sept. 17. "What we have is a target date. These times are unpredictable, they’re fluid. We just have to adjust."