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Friedman: Isles Trade Nino, Fill Pipeline At NHL Draft

Niederreiter's Value Diminished, But Isles Add Character In Clutterbuck
Nino Niederreiter of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Nino Niederreiter of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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By Daniel Friedman
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The 2013 NHL Entry Draft was quite an interesting one for the New York Islanders.

By the end of the day, the Isles had drafted seven players, sent Nino Niederreiter to Minnesota and watched Cory Schneider become a New Jersey Devil. There’s a lot to digest, so let’s get right to it.

The Nino Trade

It’s safe to say that Niederreiter was expected to be dealt this weekend and the Isles certainly made that a priority, sending him to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Cal Clutterbuck and a third-round pick (70th overall).

Depending on how highly you think of Nino, this was either a very solid trade or a horrible one. Maybe he wasn’t given that much of a shot in the NHL, but he received significant playing time in Bridgeport (AHL) this year and, after a strong first-half, his production tailed off quite a bit.

Niederreiter’s value had diminished and, under those circumstances, this was the best return GM Garth Snow was going to get in a trade for him. Truth be told, it’s not a bad one, either.

Though it might take you a while to see it, this was a good move. Clutterbuck is a character player who will hit, fight, grind and do whatever it takes to help his team win hockey games. He has some offensive capability to go along with his physical side. It’s also worth noting that he’s played with John Tavares; they were teammates with the Oshawa Generals (OHL).

I was never overly-impressed with Niederreiter. For someone of his size, he plays like a marshmallow and generally opts to shoot from outside instead of going hard to the net, which is a problem because he doesn’t have an accurate shot. For me, his disloyal attitude was the final straw.

Of course it’s entirely possible he’ll grow up in Minnesota and make the necessary adjustments to become an impact player, but I have my reservations about that.

The Islanders’ offense was among the NHL’s top-ten in 2013, without Niederreiter or Ryan Strome, for that matter. This team can score and that’s not going to change without Nino in the fold.

What the Isles were missing, however, was more character and grit in their bottom-six forward group. You need those kinds of players in order to win and Cal Clutterbuck will be a major boost in that department.

The Picks

Starting with No. 15, the Islanders originally had six picks but acquired a seventh in the Niederreiter trade (70th overall). When all was said and done, Garth Snow and his scouting staff ended up with a real solid haul. Here are the players the Isles brought aboard and what you need to know about them:

Ryan Pulock, D (1st round, 15th overall)

Despite the growing perception that the Islanders were going to trade their pick to move down, Snow went up to the podium — jersey in hand — to announce the selection of Ryan Pulock.

He was a phenomenal choice and exactly who the Isles needed. If you were looking for  their future power play quarterback, Pulock is your man. It had previously been hoped that Calvin de Haan would fill the role, but he’s constantly been plagued by injuries, which has essentially phased him out of that conversation.

Pulock has a cannon of a slap shot, one that clocks in at 102 miles-per-hour. To put it in perspective — he can shoot a puck harder and faster than Matt Harvey can throw a fastball.

Unlike most of the offensive-defensemen in the organization, Pulock has decent size (6”1, 211 pounds). In 2012-13, he notched 45 points for the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), a drop-off from the 60 he’d amassed in 2011-12. The fact that his team was a lot worse last season than it had previously been was a major factor in that decline

I’ve got news for you: If 45 points is considered a down year, you’re probably in good shape.

Eamon McAdam, G (3rd round, 70th overall) 

Central Scouting ranked McAdam sixth among North American goaltenders. He posted a 17-9-3 record for the Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL) in 2012-13 and is committed to Penn State for season, where he is expected to be the starter between the pipes.

Scouts described McAdam as a high-risk, high-reward pick. Considering that most of the top goalie prospects were already off the board and that the Isles took him in the third round, he’s worth the gamble.

A quick glance at the rest of McAdam’s stats might discourage you (3.45 goals-against average, .896 save percentage), but he has a lot more talent than the numbers suggest. McAdam’s athleticism is a major plus, but he certainly has what to work on in terms of other areas in his game. McAdam is a project, but one who could be worth the wait.

Taylor Cammarata, C/LW (3rd round, 76th overall)

The only reason Cammarata can’t be the steal of this draft is because Seth Jones slipped to the Nashville Predators at No. 4.

A lot of scouts overlooked him because of his diminutive stature (5”6, 170 pounds) but, as is becoming increasingly evident, players who lack height but not talent can thrive in the “new” NHL. Cammarata has the goods to cash in at the professional stage.

An absolute scoring machine, Cammarata has lit up the stats columns at every level. He and first-overall pick Nathan MacKinnon were teammates at Shattuck-St. Mary’s for two years. Not only did Cammarata lead the team in points both seasons; he also outscored MacKinnon, and by a rather wide margin

In 2012-13, Cammarata led the USHL in points, racking up 93 in 59 games for the Waterloo Blackhawks. In recognition of his stellar campaign, he was crowned as the USHL Player of the Year, as well as USA Hockey’s Junior Player of the Year.

Cammarata has committed to the University of Minnesota next season.

Stephon Williams, G (4th round, 106th overall)

When the Islanders picked Williams in the fourth round, he became the highest-selected Alaskan goaltender in the history of the draft. What the Isles may come to realize is that he could very well be the best one they took on Sunday.

Williams led Minnesota State-Mankato to the 2013 NCAA tournament as a freshman, sporting a 21-12-2 record (including four shutouts), a 2.00 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. He was also named WCHA Rookie of the Year.

His positioning and reflexes are his main strengths and, though there’s room for improvement, Williams has some serious potential. I’m fully on-board with this choice.

Viktor Crus Rydberg, C (5th round, 136th overall)

Rydberg was expected to go earlier in the draft, so there are those who will tell you that the Islanders were fortunate to have him fall right into their laps.

A center from Sweden who’s just a shade under six feet tall, Rydberg amassed 35 points in as many games for Linkoping (Sweden junior league). He has the hands of Rob Schremp and hopefully more of a future.

Alan Quine, C (6th round, 166th overall)

Originally drafted by the Detroit Red Wings (85th overall in 2011), Quine is a playmaking pivot who sees the ice well and is a strong skater. He recorded 67 points for the Peterborough Petes and Belleville Bulls (OHL) in 2012-13.

Kyle Borroughs, D (7th round, 196th overall)

After kicking off their day by taking a puck-mover at No. 15, the Islanders came full circle, taking another one with their last pick.

Burroughs chipped in 33 points for the Regina Pats (WHL) in 2012-13. At 5”11, 186 pounds, he’s definitely on the smaller side but he’ll rarely back down from a fight.

For a seventh rounder, Burroughs is a safe choice but, at this point, there are already more than enough smallish offensive-defensemen in the system. Personally, I would’ve looked for a winger in that spot.

The Outlook

The Islanders still have to find a goaltender and addressed their need for a scoring winger. All in all, yesterday was a good one. Drafting Pulock was an outstanding move and some of their later round picks could be diamonds in the rough.

It’s July 1st; there’s plenty of time between now and the start of training camp. Snow will figure things out, just be patient. As I’ve said previously, he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter @DFriedmanWFAN

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