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Islanders maneuver to grab top talent in draft

Islanders general manager Garth Snow addresses the media

Islanders general manager Garth Snow addresses the media during a press conference naming John Tavares the Islanders' captain at Carlyle on the Green in Bethpage. Photo Credit: Getty

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Islanders added to their defense prospect depth on Day 2 of the NHL Draft, which, when this event began, was going to be the only day the Isles were active.

But general manager Garth Snow worked his way from not having a first-round pick when the draft began to coming away with two first-round selections on Friday, including center Mathew Barzal at No. 16, a prospect whom the entire organization is thrilled to have.

"He's a unique player -- he's just really flippin' good," head scout Trent Klatt said after the team finished the draft Saturday. "The sky's the limit for him. He can have any kind of NHL career he wants."

Klatt was enthused about the entirety of the team's seven selections, from forward Anthony Beauvillier at No. 28 late Friday to the five choices made Saturday during rounds 2-7. All of Saturday's picks are defensemen, and Klatt -- wrapping up his fifth and final draft as head scout -- believes the deep pool of prospects that began with generational talents Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel going Nos. 1 and 2 extended well into the second day.

At No. 82, the Isles selected Oshawa (OHL) defenseman Mitchell Vande Sompel, who had 63 points playing with Isles prospect Michael Dal Colle on the Memorial Cup champions. The Isles took Tri-City (WHL) defenseman Parker Wotherspoon at No. 112 and traded into the fifth round to select Brandon (WHL) defenseman Ryan Pilon, cousin of former Islander Rich Pilon.

"I can't believe these guys were there when we picked," Klatt said. "It just speaks to the depth of the draft. More than one of these guys has a legitimate chance to play in the NHL -- not just play but be good, effective players."

Sources indicated the Isles received precious little interest in Michael Grabner, who was actively shopped around this weekend and before. Grabner carries a $3-million salary-cap hit but has a salary of $5 million this coming season, making him unattainable for many teams.

Sources also indicated that trade interest in Kyle Okposo was not strong. Contract extension talks between Snow and Okposo's reps could pick up this summer, but it isn't likely that Okposo will be seeking less than a six-year contract at $7 million per season.

If Snow is unwilling to pony up, Okposo could be shopped more aggressively as training camp draws near.

For now, the Isles are content to have produced two high-end prospects from a difficult position entering the weekend. They did ship out Griffin Reinhart, the fourth pick in 2012, for the chance to select Barzal, and then the Nos. 33 and 72 picks to move up and pick Beauvillier, but that's part of the Isles' plan.

"One of the things we've done since I've been here is, if there's someone we know we want, we feel like it's better to walk out of here with him," Klatt said. "You never want to say, 'Oh, we could have had him but he went two picks before us.' And we feel those moves paid off."

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