The 3rd Pick is in and the voting process was nowhere near as close as the 2nd Pick. So with the 3rd Pick in the 2012 Canes Country NHL Draft, the voters have selected Alex Galchenyuk for the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs look like they finally get that big center they've been desiring for a while. And I have to admit this is an excellent selection for Montreal. Galchenyuk is a player that has it all; he can score, distribute, and plays a solid two-way game. He could turn into the best player in this draft, but even if he doesn't, he will be great addition to the Habs top 6 for years to come. So far all offensive players have been selected in what is considered a good defensemen draft. Yakupov, Forsberg, and Galchenyuk are off the board, who the next to go?
Up next are the New York Islanders with the #4 Pick, so New York is now on the clock!
When you first look at the Islanders roster, your first impression is probably that they have a nice little collection of young forwards and are in need of some defensemen. They have their franchise player in John Tavares and a couple of solid complimentary players to go around him. Then you look at their defense and is looks pretty sparse. So you might think this draft has played out well for the Isles, they have their choice of any of the top defensemen and you could be correct. But looking into it a little further and the Islanders still have plenty of holes throughout their lineup. They were 27th in the league last year in Goals Against per Game and they were 28th in Goals per Game. They have (or had) a good 1st line and a few other horses, but many of their guys are overslotted. The defense is just a wild collection of players and I'm not even going to go into the goaltending situation. The Islanders have needs up & down their lineup and should probably select the best player available. For a team that has finished in the bottom 5 in the league for the last 5 seasons, I would think they might have a better roster than what they do. So you're New York's GM, what do you do with the #4 Pick?
Ryan Murray - D
I said the Isles should take the best player available and Murray definitely fits that bill. A few people out there actually believe that Edmonton could potentially take Murray first overall. He is a steadying force and someone you could build a defensive corp around. He doesn't do any one thing particularly well, but he does everything good. He is reliable in his own end, can contribute some offensively, and he has leadership qualities. He is definitely more of a safe pick than flash, but he is good, plain & simple. Another benefit to the Isles would be that he is one of the most NHL ready players in this draft. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but we'll see who others feel about it.
Mathew Dumba - D
Dumba would be an interesting selection at this point. He is probably one of the most physical defensemen in the draft, but his size and recklessness are a concern. He would provide plenty of energy to the blueline and would instantly become a fan favorite on the Island. He really is a complete package. His skating is top notch, his is willing to through his body around, and he is good with the puck. But he does still have some "growing" to do and I'm not just talking about his size. Dumba is most likely going to return to the WHL, but he should be ready in a year or two.
Griffin Reinhart - D
Reinhart might be a stretch this high, but this guy oozes potential. He has been compared to a Shea Weber/Chris Pronger hybrid and if that is true, it would be tough to pass him up. He's got great size and should fill out more as he ages, he has really good mobility, and he has a little bit of offense in his game also. Reinhart is definitely not NHL ready, there are still a few things that he will have to work on to round his game out. Even with his imposing stature, he isn't the most physical defenseman. He is actually better positionally right now than physically, but that should all come together as he gains more experience. This would be a little bit of a risk for the Islanders, but the rewards could be huge in 2 or 3 years.
Jacob Trouba - D
While the Isles do have some offensive defensemen prospects in their system, Trouba would be the type of guy to help balance their blueline. This is not trying to say Trouba doesn't have any offense, because he is quite capable in that area, but he is a physical defenseman that plays a very steady game. He has good size, plays with a physical edge, and skate very well. You can sort of tell the guy hasn't completely matured physically yet, so I would expect that he gets a little bit bigger as he gets older. Trouba wouldn't be a guy that would have an immediate impact, but he is a pretty safe pick and will be a solid defenseman in a couple of seasons.
Mikhail Grigorenko - C
I did say that the Islanders should take the best available player and Grigorenko is just as talented as Yakupov, Forsberg, and Galchenyuk. But Grigorenko has some questions and I don't think they'll be answered until he hits the ice again. This guy could be an Evgeni Malkin type of player or he might fizzle under the big lights or he could jump ship back to Russia at the first sign of trouble. We don't know, so he is a risk. But if he does live up to his potential, he would be a steal at #4. I personally think that Grigorenko's question marks are a result of his heritage & mono and I believe he is going to be an Eric Staal type of player in the NHL. But the Islanders took at risk in 2010 with Kirill Kabanov in the 3rd Round, so I don't see them doing it this time around in the 1st Round.
Morgan Rielly - D
Rielly is more of a wild card in this draft than about anyone. He is an extremely offensively gifted defender that is a fabulous skater, but he missed most of the season with a torn ACL. It appears that everything with his knee is fine, but for a guy that isn't very big and relied on his skating, it is a concern. He has been compared to Erik Karlsson and we saw what he could do this year. Rielly has very good puck skills, can distribute the puck, and has a high hockey IQ. One are that would need to improve is his defensive game. He is a little bit of a risk, but no matter what, he will need to go back into the oven to finish cooking.