Why I’d like the Islanders to give up this year’s pick

Why I’d like the Islanders to give up this year’s pick

Note: I can’t get to the bottom of the comment problems. The “allow comments” box is checked everywhere. Apologies.

When the local hockey team is one of the worst in history, fans are forced to magnify future discussions. The big one for Buffalo Sabres fans ahead of tonight’s NHL Draft Lottery is whether they should want the New York Islanders to use their option to defer which first round draft pick they give to Buffalo to 2015.

Normally when a team is terrible, the idea is to get help as quickly as possible. Buffalo swapped star winger Thomas Vanek in exchange for Matt Moulson and, more importantly, a first round pick in 2014 or 2015. New York makes the decision as to whether they keep this year’s pick and give the Sabres next year’s selection, or bite the bullet and give up this year’s pick (which will almost certainly be a Top 5-7 selection).

What complicates the matter is that 2015 is considered a much stronger draft year with better players and a deeper talent pool.

And the prevailing opinion amongst fans and media seems to be that it would be better for Buffalo if New York decides to take this year’s pick and give the Sabres an extra selection — currency is the big word — in 2015.

Here’s why I’m on the other side:

The 2014 Buffalo Sabres are likely to be poor again, with the opportunity at the No.1 overall pick again. The 2015 Isles? Not-so-much. They’ll get franchise center John Tavares back and, if they keep their pick, be able to add another top-line talent to its roster. They arguably lose no one of significant stature from their roster to free agency — their biggest hole is goaltending — and their roster did make the playoffs in 2012-13. In short, I’d wouldn’t be willing to bet the Isles make the playoffs in 2014-15 — made that mistake after the Vanek trade — but I’d be very surprised if they are a Top 5 team again.

And here’s the thing: two rookies aren’t going to devalue your shot at the No. 1 pick next season, so I’d rather snag two of the 5-7 best players in this class than gamble on a group of 17-year-olds being consistently better over the next year. It’s not a patience thing (though it certainly benefits next season). How many teams are able to secure two Top 7 picks in a given year? Off the top of my head, only Vancouver’s Sedin selections come to mind and that was a trade.

Just a quick scan through the past dozen or so drafts shows it’s mega rare, happening thrice in four years near the turn of the century. In 2000, the Isles had two picks in the Top Five (Rick DiPietro and Raffi Torres) in a retrospectively-poor draft year. Now they passed on Marian Gaborik and Dany Heatley for DiPietro. They passed on Scott Hartnell and a whole lot of nothing for Torres. In 1997, the Islanders did the trick as well, getting Eric Brewer and Roberto Luongo with picks Nos. 4 & 5.┬áThe 1999 draft (Sedin class) was also terrible but that mostly worked out for the Canucks.

Seriously, the 2000 group was an awful class. The future All-Stars taken after Torres? Justin Williams (28th overall), Lubomir Visnovsky (118th), Henrik Lundqvist (205th). Shout-outs to Niklas Kronwall, Steve Ott and Anton Volchenkov but WOOF.

Look, it’ll work out in some capacity for the Sabres either way. They could have as many as three first round picks this summer and the same is possible for next. They’ll be able to deal players at next year’s deadline for first round picks if the team is a city fire as expected. But the idea of grabbing two of the absolute best this year, maybe even 1-2, sure is more interesting to me than rolling the dice on some teens in the most uncertain draft this side of Major League Baseball.

30 Responses to Why I’d like the Islanders to give up this year’s pick

  1. I agree. The sure thing is two top 7 picks this year VS. our high pick and a roll of the dice next year. I’d rather go with the sure thing. I hate that we have to wait until June 1st to find out.

  2. I wouldn’t count on being able to add a 2015 1st at the deadline next year.

    People thought Miller, Moulson, and maybe Ott would each land the Sabres a 1st.

    But, they only got 1 1st + a conditional 1st for those three guys.

    Also, 2015 is expected to be a lot deeper than 2014. So, the 5th or 6th pick in 2014 might be worse than the 9th or 10th pick next year.

    With Capuano and Snow back in NY next year, I expect that they will be as bad as they have been on average during Snow’s tenure where they have finished bottom 5 more often than not.

    I won’t be upset if the Sabres get the 2014 pick and walk away with say Sam (Reinhart or Bennett) with their pick at 1/2 and then Michael Dal Colle or Leon Draisaitl with the Islanders pick at 5/6.

    Although, I want the 2015 pick, so part of me wants the Islanders to win the lottery and then the choice almost has to be to keep it this year and give the Sabres the 2015 pick.

  3. I’d rather take Dal Colle/Draisaitl at 5 this year and move on. The Isles aren’t that bad of a team, statistically they were quite unlucky this year. I think odds are they aren’t a bottom 5 team again. And then there’s the conspiracy theory with the league allowing us to get McDavid to begin with… I’m not getting my hopes up we get him or Eichel.

    But, like I said when the trade was made, the Isles are keeping the pick if it’s top 10. Teams don’t think rationally on matters like this. They never assume they’re going to be terrible an entire year in the future. There’s too many people with their jobs on the line to even think that way.

    • Hey LP, I just wanted to button-up my thinking by responding here to your last comment in the previous Bills thread…

      Personally I wouldn’t love losing Spiller. Except, similar to your feelings about Dareus, I do think CJ wants out of Buffalo. (I have no inside info, just a feeling) He always says the right thing, but I think he will bolt ASAP. If that’s the case, then by all means he should be traded. (No repeat of the Byrd debacle) But I also want a viable replacement to fill his shoes. It’s true, RB’s are easy to replace, but Spiller has rare talents. The problem is, as you say, he is being misused. I’d rather see him stay, but if he wants out, get what you can for him.

      By going all-in, I don’t mean to say that I think they are doing all they can to win, but rather, I think *they* think they are doing so. None of the moves they have made have excited me very much.

      New Defensive scheme, new DC and staff, and several new starters; plus new help for Manuel. Will these moves work? I am doubtful. But I sense that they seriously think they will make a playoff push, this year. Thus, potentially saving their jobs. Me, I think that they are still a 6 or 7 win team. And if they are, then these newly acquired and divisive “personalities” could turn that locker room into a war zone, real quick. That is the risk of hiring mercenaries. I feel the Bills are still too far away from being a consistently good team for that approach to work. But, if it does fail…

      The positive is that it will hopefully only hasten the departure of the current brass by any new owner.

      P.S. Methinks that Nick could use the assistance of a qualified IT Technician (hint) with this whole “allow comments” issue? ;)

      • I’d like to keep Spiller too, but not for what he’ll want to get paid. Made a mistake drafting an early 1st round RB for the 3rd time in a decade, move on, maybe the local football team will join this millennium someday.

        The team probably thinks they’ll make the playoffs every year. As of now, nobody’s job is on the line. Whaley is a good follower who waited his turn, Buddy made sure to take credit/blame for Manuel so Whaley will get a turn with ‘his guy’ after Manuel is widely regarded as a flop probably by ’15-16. While Buddy is still with this team and beloved for who knows why. Same ol’ shit, bunch of yesmen just keeping their great jobs with the ass end of the NFL.

        The hope is a new owner.

          • Yep. Like I said, I felt bad vibes coming from CJ late last year. He wants out, and the money won’t even matter. Time to start looking for a new RB. Freddy J. (God love him) is just about done, I fear.

            You follow this team, my dear, simply because you HAVE to. Through no fault of your own, you were born to it. You’re a lifer, just like the rest of us. For nobody with an ounce of logic in their brain would CHOOSE to be a Bills fan.

            Today’s pressers only made me more depressed…

            -Marrone, though I wish him well with his medical situation, is still a blathering fidgeting cipher.

            -Spikes is still a punk. But Bucky G. says YAY! At least he’s OUR punk.

            -Stevie looks like the life has been sucked out of him.

            -EJ Manuel is working really really really really really hard this off-season. Did I mention how hard he’s working?

            -And CJ wants out.

            I think it will be a miracle if this team wins more than 7 games this year.

            P.S. Pay the Jills! They are at least mildly entertaining, unlike the team on the field. :)

          • I tolerated the losing, I even found enjoyment in trying to see how the team could rise and be good. But, when you’re at the point where good players avoid you like the plague, and there’s no significant changes done to alleviate this, what’s the point?

            The main thing from the pressers is the zombification of Stevie (and EJ working really really hard and he’s our leader and the greatest kid ever, which was expected and the homers eat it up like candy). It was comical how Stevie was fed those lines. I think that means he’s very happy making $8.5M/year.

          • The only reason to now remain interested, on which we both agree, is new ownership. And a complete housecleaning. When that day arrives I will be more hopeful than I have been in years.

            Speaking of the homers, I find their sobering reaction to the schedule quite amusing. I mean, we’ve known *who* the Bills are playing this year for months, but now that we know the *when* the reaction has been like a splash of cold water in the face. Except for the complete fools who still see 11 or 12 wins. Lol. The reality…

            No true Primetime. No Thanksgiving. No respect! say the fans. As if the NFL would actually want to showcase this team in any way. As for the schedule itself…

            Fairly tough start, softer in the middle, and very tough at the end. I think that my 7 win prediction might be too optimistic.

            Go BILLS!

  4. I’d rather take the picks now, get the best players you can now. Win now. My brain cannot connect to the idea that we should ever wait (and hope?) to be bad again, then, and only then, will we get really good later.

    But, they are probably not getting that Isles pick this year. So if the Sabres are in fact horrible again, we’ll have that pick to look forward to. I guess.

    Either way, it’s fine. One or two players isn’t going to win us the Cup. We need to build a team. The success of this team will now be decided by the Three T’s…

    Tim + Ted + Time.

    • I was enjoying the conversation between you two. I do think it’s funny Stevie “had the fun sapped out of him.” What would’ve happened if he had the exact same career in a bigger media hotbed? Something nefarious wants me to compare him to Lee Evans, even though they are totally different receivers.

      • As much as I very much heart Miss Leelee, an occasional third voice (yours) would make our discourses that much more enjoyable. :)

        As for Stevie…My sense is that his apparent ennui is based on him feeling, justifiably, a bit unloved. He just signed a big contract, and chose to stay in Buffalo, only to wake up a year later to finds most fans, and probably his team, looking to dump him.

        The Bills brought in a possible threat (and a very risky problem child) in Mike Williams, and they seem to be now promoting the image of Robert Woods heavily, while most fans are screaming for them to draft a receiver, or a receiving TE – all of which must have Stevie thinking…

        What did I do that was so bad to deserve this?

        Well, Stevie, you had a subpar season! (Of course, it was mainly because you had a subpar QB.) But, how dare you! You are supposed to make EJ better! Everyone is supposed to make EJ better! Please, please, make EJ better!

        Or, we could just get Stevie, and the rest of this (pretty good) Bills Receiving Corp – a different, and much better, starting QB. But that won’t happen this year, and Stevie Johnson knows it. So, why so serious, Stevie?

        I think I know why.

  5. Apologies for calling Nick a jerk. Late night altered posting is bad. And I know he’s busy with a career and kids, while I’m a gov’t-employed sloth watching tape of probable UDFA QBs hoping they become Bills.

    It’s strange how the team is handling Stevie. When he came back for the Jax game immediately after his mom died, yet then missed the next two games. I’m assuming the Bills told him he could go. And you’re right on the team really promoting Woods this offseason. The problem is it’s financially and cap damaging to dump him in the next 2 years, they’d need a good reason to do so, and I don’t think there is one. It’s not like Stevie was significantly worse last year.

    I am soooo tired of hearing every excuse in the book for EJ, and how everyone needs to make him better and he needs better players around him so we can see if he’s really good or not. Wilson, Kaepernick, Luck, Griffin… they had less weapons to throw to than EJ, and arguably worse OLs (except SF). This is far from an offense bereft of talent. Of course, people could watch tape of EJ to have an educated opinion, and see it’s glaring he’s not accurate enough compared to good NFL QBs, but let’s just spew cliches.

    • Don’t sweat it too much, kiddo. I don’t think Nick took it too personally. Anyway, coming from you, “jerk” is nearly a term of endearment. :)

      I think Mr. Mendola appreciates the respect that both of us have for him, his work, and his blog. After all, he quite generously continues to allow us to ramble around here fairly unfettered. I think we’re all good enough buds to call each other names once in a while. ;)

      As for the excuses for EJ. I became weary of them *last* year, when they first started. It’s shocking to see so many Bills fans swallowing this bait. I mean, one of the great NFL Mantras is…

      A Good QB Will Make Everyone Around Him Better.

      But, in Buffalo, it’s the opposite. So, we must build the Great Wall of China in front of EJ, and get 7 foot tall receivers for EJ, and have a great running game for EJ, and field a dominant defense for EJ.

      But, what about EJ himself? What do we want? (Other than, you know, being able to actually stay on the field for a full season)

      Well, as for expectations for EJ, I hear many saying (including Jeremy and Howard) that around 20-25 TD’s and 3000+ yards would be realistic numbers. Huh? So, now, all they want is for EJ to be good as Fitz was? But I thought that Fitz was HORRIBLE. The WORST. He was no where near good enough. But now Fitz-like numbers would be fine for EJ, our “franchise” guy?


      Look, I still hope EJ Manuel proves me wrong. I hope he makes me eat every word I’ve said about him. But if he does not, with these lowered expectations, and with all this “help” he’s getting…

      There can be no more excuses.

      • I see the EJ experiment going like Fitz’s went.

        It’s not like Fitz got worse over time, if anything 2012 was probably his best year. But, the people got tired of him. That’s the only way the team will move on, which is maddening.

        EJ’s game will probably not significantly improve next year. But, the excuses are set either way. If he plays a full season, his counting stats will be better. 20 TDs, 2500 yards is such a pointlessly low target. If he gets injured and misses the same/more games, then EJ only played xx number of games and we gotta give him a chance!

        And probably around the end of year 3 after losing to the Patriots yet again, the rabble will tire of EJ, even if he does show improvement by then.

        I really hope Whaley shocks me next week.

        • I think you’re spot-on regarding the EJ experiment. Nothing left to do except let it play out as it will.

          As for Whaley…

          He’s the one guy, the only guy, in a top position with the Bills who hasn’t disappointed me yet. I would love for him to be bold with this draft.

          I’m not in love with taking a Tackle or Receiver early, and especially NOT trading up to do it. But, if they are looking to move up, I’d rather they go defense.

          Get Clowney or Mack.

          The problem with Clowney is attitude, and his probable lack of Buffalove. Whereas Mack would be a hometown hero and would be a more talented and much better longtime solution (over Spikes) to that true MLB I want for the Bills.

          And adding either of those guys to an already talented Bills defense might just be enough to mitigate any concerns I have regarding the new coaching and scheme this year. Basically, make this D so talented that it cannot possibly fail.

          Mack + Kiko would compliment each other very well, and would be an exciting LB duo to watch for years to come.

          But, honestly, I am not expecting this kind of surprise from Doug. He’s going to pick MORE HELP FOR EJ. So, I see…

          Tackle or Receiver. Neither of which would be horrible, but nor will they ultimately help EJ Manuel to be great.

          True greatness never needs much help.

          • I’m the same with Whaley, and this draft is his chance to show me he’s not just another guy falling in line.

            Tackle is the worst pick for me, because that’s guaranteeing Cordy Glenn leaves in 2 years if he’s any good. If Whaley does that, I’m done with him. Tackle is the safe pick nobody will really complain about, and what does he care what happens in 2 years if it fails? He’ll be on another team.

            I’ve been told I’m crazy on this opinion on Clowney, I would not take him at 9 with the Bills. He’s an incredible talent, in the Bruce Smith range. Which should have people wondering why he hasn’t been the sure #1 pick. Clowney needs to be in the right situation, or he’ll be a major problem. He’s often lazy, and he’s a proud local boy. Houston may work out, but teams like Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit.. I’d bet heavily that’s a disaster.

            Mack would be the optimal scenario. But, he doesn’t fit this team’s scheme whatsoever.

            To be honest, though… I’m QB or bust this draft. Because they’re gonna suck next year with EJ.

  6. Well, Olga Aliana, although I have sometimes found a few of your opinions to be crazy (though usually crazy-good) I do fully understand your trepidation about Clowney.

    He scares me: 1) He could be scary good. 2) His attitude could be scary bad. The only way he would thrive here is if the Bills were a REALLY good team. He would likely hate Buffalo, but if the Bills were a championship level team, they could got some monster play out of him for a while.

    But, it’s almost certainly moot. The Bills are not great, and they are not going to draft Clowney anyway. Same goes for QB, which is what I most want, as well. Not going to happen.

    It’s a shame really, about QB. This should have been the year the Bills should be drafting one. If only somebody at OBD with a brain could have stopped Buddy from getting himself punked on the phone, and then insisting on getting “his guy” before he left, they could have rolled with Fitz one more year (we were basically paying his salary anyway, on the cap) and now be all set to get a better prospect (Johnny Football!!) in this draft. Alas, no.

    I never hated Buddy Nix as much as you did. But, I will never forgive him for drafting EJ Manuel.

    I’d love Mack. Regardless of the scheme, just put that kid somewhere in the middle of any defense, and he will prosper.

    Bottom line: I expect to be underwhelmed on Thursday.

  7. I wasn’t against drafting EJ, and I’m still not. The problem is this mentality is that you draft a QB early, that’s it, he’s your guy for 3+ years and don’t even think of challenging him. AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH.

    YOU NEED A GOOD QB TO WIN. If that means your QBs are 3 consecutive 1st picks, so what. Those 3 combined are less than half of what top QBs are making. There’s nothing to lose doing this. You need to keep trying to get a QB.

    Why are the Seahawks and 49ers the best teams of late? Because they have awesome QBs and are paying them chicken feed. This is the goal. That’s how you win now.

    • I was, still am, and always will be. My problem wasn’t with drafting a QB per se, but specifically EJ Manuel, especially in the first round. That was too valuable a pick to waste on him, in that spot.

      But we agree on drafting QB’s generally. Hell, if I were the Bills this year, I’d draft 2 of them. Better prospects would increase your chances of hitting on one. This is of course The Schopp Doctrine. (Even Mikey is right once in a while)

      The problem, evinced by losing teams, is stubbornly sticking to an old NFL paradigm, along with an unhealthy dose of ego. The weak coaches and execs do not want to admit they were wrong. So they stand by “their guy” for too long.

      The strong coaches and execs aren’t afraid to replace a newly drafted (or acquired) but mediocre QB (or even a pretty good one) for a much better QB, no matter how it might “look” to outsiders.

      I think the Bills brass are demonstrating the category to which they belong.

      P.S. I know you will probably abandon it again shortly, but you should consider keeping your twitter active for a while, this time. It is highly entertaining. :)

  8. It’s mostly that drafting the ‘safe’ pick nobody complains about keeps you in the NFL loop of endless employment. Same with coaches, who have been proven as unquestionably far too conservative.

    Speaking of Schopp, it’s notable that he’s abandoned his drafting QB idea this year for trading up and down or whatever retarded babble. The local football team has to rein him in to that level for Our EJ.

    • Honestly, the level of WGR sycophancy for the Bills has completely turned me off to that station. Literally. I barely listen anymore. Only long enough to hear…

      Jeremy and Howard painting the rosiest possible picture on any and all Bills maneuvers, or, Mikey and Dog talking about potato chips or vinyl records or Crystal Beach or almost anything but sports, or, John Murphy (for whom I have lost tons of respect) giving his best Chris Brown impersonation as THE mouthpiece for the team…

      Then off goes that radio station. (Maybe 5 minutes)

      I understand the business, and all these guys know where their bread is buttered. But it’s very sad that our only true Sports Radio station is now so beholden to the football team.


  9. We need a Draft post. Nick, post about how awesome Lewan is because he went to Meeeechigan or something.

    • It’s hard for me to write about football, but if I did a predraft post I would’ve told the Bills to trade all of their picks for picks next year, forfeit all their games after they won their first of the season so their good players didn’t get hurt and then take Marcus Mariota first overall.

      Really excited to watch Jameis Winston throw 400 interceptions in the NFL.

  10. Welp, that didn’t take very long now did it? Now I’m officially disappointed in you too, Doug Whaley.

    Like the player, hate the cost of the pick.

    Two 1st Rounders (and a 4th) for another receiver, which was not a huge position of need. Unless you subscribe to the idea that our “franchise” QB should be given even more “help” including, it would seem, tying his shoelaces, changing his diaper, and snuggling him under his favorite Superman blankie.

    Anyway, it’s hello EJ Manuel for at least two more years, and goodbye Stevie Johnson (sooner rather than later). Thanks for your loyalty, Stevie. I wish you well. Hopefully you’ll get to go home and play for the Niners. So, let’s see…

    Mike Pettine + Johnny Football, or, Doug Marrone + EJ Manuel?

    You don’t need to be Oliver Hazard Perry, or even wait until November 30th, to predict that…

    Cleveland has won the Battle of Lake Erie.

    P.S. We have met the enemy and they are…us. :(

    • I love Sammy Watkins and I think he’s a good bet to be in the Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown type of upper WR1s. It’s been a crazy 18 hours.

      But, at the end of the day, the Bills committed to EJ Manuel through 2016. And he’s not good enough at throwing a football.

  11. Okay, is soccer over yet?

    I noticed that bunches of games were played across the Pond today. I watched none. I know that makes me an enlightened plebian, but there it is.

    But, before the World Cup starts (which I may actually watch a bit) and before FC Buffalo (Go local team!) starts their season, I was hoping that Nick might find time to post his review of the 2014 Bills Draft.

    Come on, Nick, we want to hear your thoughts on the Draft, so Miss Phoenix and I can double-team attack what will surely be your very positive review of the Bills’ picks and trades.

    It’s our job to keep your flights of fancy grounded. ;)

    My own quick review: The Bills didn’t draft a new coach or a new QB, so other than Sammy, it’s a…Meh.

    Grade: C+

    • My draft grade was a B-plus if this was the last draft ever. But it’s not. So the grade is a D.

      I do love Sammy Watkins, though, even though I’ll always be a Dwayne Allen man if we’re talking Clemson.

  12. He hates us. I request Nick write up a FC Buffalo/NPSL preview. Because I honestly have no idea how the NPSL works, how they build their teams, etc.. America can’t have promotion/demotion, of course. We have to be boring.

    Draft Grade: F. Bad QB. Bad team.