The speculation over who the Islanders will select with the fifth overall pick at the 2011 NHL draft will end Friday, but perhaps the best indication thus far is the group of players the team brought to Long Island for in-person visits last week.
Defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Murphy and centers Jonathan Huberdeau and Sean Couturier all made the trek to Uniondale for a pre-draft meeting with the team and additional medical testing.
“I’m not going to lie, I’ve met with the Islanders the most,” said Hamilton. “I didn’t meet any other teams after the combine.”
Hamilton, a heady defenseman with good size and room to fill out (6-foot-4, 187 pounds), finished fourth in the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s final rankings. He finished fourth among Ontario Hockey League defensemen in scoring with 58 points (12 goals, 46 assists) in 67 games for the Niagara IceDogs this season.
Murphy, who led OHL defensemen with 26 goals, is another highly-ranked blue-liner in whom the Islanders have expressed interest. He received his tour last Wednesday.
“It was the first team I went to go visit, one of my first times flying alone, too. I love Long Island. The organization was great and so was everyone that brought me around. It was pretty laid back and I had a good time,” he said.
“We didn’t really talk too much about hockey. It was more to get to know my character. We talked about [me being] a guy they’d look at. I’m an offensive defenseman and every team needs an offensive defenseman.”
Both Murphy and Hamilton also talked about the Islanders psychological testing, which has become somewhat of an urban legend in part because it has been shrouded in secrecy.
Murphy said the most bizarre question he has been asked in recent weeks came on that test.
“The question was whether I would want a good poem or a well-made gun,” he recalled. “I did ask the Islanders what the correct answer was but they didn’t tell me.”
“I had that question, too,” Hamilton said. “I chose a poem because I don’t think there’s really any use for a gun.”
Hamilton, who was named the OHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year, is no stranger to rigorous testing-- he maintained a 94% average in six Grade 12 level courses at Governor Simcoe Secondary School in St. Catherine’s, Ontario—but said the exam was challenging.
“It was hard, long and had questions that could go either way, that I don’t know if there’s a right answer,” he said.
The Islanders will get a taste of their own medicine as they face a tough multiple choice question to answer tomorrow night.
Who will they pick?