Here is a link to today's story about the Islanders' position in the upcoming 2010 NHL Draft. But for more from Islanders Assistant General Manager and Director of Amateur Scouting Ryan Jankowski, check out the transcripts of my interview with him:
What has your staff been doing since last weekend's combine in preparation for the draft?
"It’s always a busy week. We see up to 70 kids at the combine and have scouts’ meeting before the combine, where we make a preliminary list. Now we’re refining that list and narrowing in how our process is going to work and who we think [fits] our selection."
What type of player do you expect to draft with your first-round pick?
"We have the No. 5 pick and the No. 35 pick and 35 is going to be a great pick as well. We still feel we are going to get a player that is considered first-round caliber."
How does this year's draft class measure up to previous years?
"It’s a good draft class. A lot of teams picking at the top feel they are going to get a good player. Does it compare to the draft two years ago with Steven Stamkos, Drew Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers? Probably not. But it’s not far off that and there are certainly a lot of good players at the top of draft."
Who impressed you at the combine?
"Every year there are players that impress us, but that isn’t going to change our vision of a certain kid completely. We are not going to break down our draft board from what we see at the combine, but we may tinker with it."
"It’s about tinkering. We don’t make any rash changes based on the combine, whether it be from the physicals or the interview. It gives us time to make sure to find information between now and the draft to substantiate or put to bed any questions."
What did you think about Brett Connolly, especially given his hip injuries this past season?
"He performed all the exercises and did an excellent job in a lot of categories. He pushed himself hard in the testing and now has one more doctor’s appointment—with a specialist-- to clear him with his hip."
If it were not for those hip injuries that limited him this past season, would he be in the same conversation as OHL standouts Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin?
"That’s tough to say. Coming in, we knew a lot about Taylor Hall. We didn’t know as much about Seguin. We saw all the potential of Connolly as a 16- year-old. He didn’t get the chance to play through that and that’s the only question in scouts’ minds. You have to assess how much you got to see of him as a 16-year-old and how comfortable you are with him from what you saw."
Have you guys pinpointed whether you'd like to take a forward or defenseman with your first-round pick or will it come down to best player available?
"The thing that’s exciting about the 5th pick is that there is a nice range of players. After putting them in order of best talents, if players are the same, the question goes to Garth on what he wants from a positional standpoint."
Do you feel that whoever you take No. 5 will be NHL-ready?
"It’s tough to say whether a player will be NHL-ready. Some guys have incredible summers and are able to gain physical strength. It’s difficult--besides the top two-- to say they will be, but you may get some surprise. It’s tough to say right now. We don’t feel they are necessarily NHL-ready but they may be by training camp. But that also may be a stretch."
What is the importance of this year's pick in terms of development for the future of the franchise?
"We're obviously very excited. It’s a very important pick to add a piece to our existing first-rounders—Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, and Calvin de Haan-- and add to our prospect base. A pick at No. 5 is a very special player. Hopefully it’s our last pick in this range. It may make the scouting staff’s job more difficult in the future, but it will mean we are getting better as a team."