Lou Lamoriello, currently encamped in Los Angeles as part of the John Tavares contract pitch festival, certainly liked the eight players the Islanders selected in the seven rounds of the NHL Draft on Friday and Saturday.
But the Islanders’ president knows much more needs to be done regardless of whether Tavares opts to re-sign or leave via unrestricted free agency when the market opens July 1. There’s still a No. 1 goalie to acquire, with the Senators’ Craig Anderson or the Red Wings’ Jimmy Howard as possibilities, and a need for NHL-ready defensemen.
“I think that’s an ongoing process. There is a plan in place,” Lamoriello said Saturday afternoon in Dallas. “I’ve always said it’s a five-year plan that changes every day. We’ll see how the week goes.”
Sunday marked the opening of the negotiation in which other teams can contact impending free agents. Tavares’ agent, Pat Brisson, indicated Saturday that five teams will make pitches this week, with the Sharks, Maple Leafs and Golden Knights expected to be among that group.
Plus Lamoriello, of course.
Tavares is completing a six-year, $33-million deal and is expected to garner at least $11 million annually with a new deal. The Islanders can offer him an eight-year deal and the other teams are capped at seven years.
As for the draft, the consensus was that the Islanders, who will open their week-long prospect development camp Monday in East Meadow, did an excellent job drafting well-valued talent.
The Islanders selected three defensemen, including Noah Dobson, who many thought would be a top-10 pick, at No. 12 and Bode Wilde, who many thought would be a first-round pick, at No. 41.
They drafted three players from the U.S. Under-18 development team, including Wilde and right wing Oliver Wahlstrom, also considered a potential top-10 pick, at No. 11.
Czech goalie Jakub Skarek, selected in the third round at No. 72, has played professionally the last two seasons against much older and more physically developed opponents.
“I thought the day was excellent,” Lamoriello said of Saturday’s rounds two through seven. “The most important thing was the whole draft. I don’t think we can be more pleased with the way things turned out. We got three quality defensemen, all 6-3 and all different dimensions. A goaltender which our goaltending department is excited about and four forwards, also with different dimensions. I think what we’ve done is put players into our system right now and they’re all different areas, whether it’s college or juniors, so we can decide what the development process is.”