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In this edition, takes a look back at the greatest draft steals in Islanders history; Here are the top 5

Tuesday, 05.20.2008 / 3:39 PM ET / News
New York Islanders
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While there has been much talk about the Islanders' fifth overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, there hasn't been much discussion about the nine other picks the Islanders have in rounds 2-6 (2-2nd, 2-3rd, 1-4th, 2-5th, 2-6th). These selections can be just as crucial as the first round pick.

This edition of NYI Top 10 gives a rundown of the greatest Islanders draft steals from the second round or later. Below are picks 1-5.

John Tonelli
Selected in the 2nd round (33rd overall) of the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft

One of the toughest big game players to ever wear an Islanders uniform, John Tonelli was an energetic power forward that got the most out of his abilities at all the right times. His aggressive style of play and big game goals helped lead the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cups. The Hamilton, Ontario-native is most notable for his important goals that helped lead the Islanders during their playoff runs. During the 1981-82 playoffs, the Islanders were five minutes away from elimination, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 when Tonelli assisted on a goal by Mike McEwen and then tied the game himself, scoring with under two minutes remaining in regulation. Tonelli would score the game-winning goal in overtime and the Islanders would eventually go on to win the Stanley Cup for the third straight season. While a second round pick may not exactly be a "steal," considering Tonelli played in more games and tallied more career points than the 32 players chosen before him, save one (Mike Bossy), we'll deem him eligible for this list.

Ken Morrow
Selected in the 4th round (68th overall) of the 1976 NHL Amateur Draft

As one of the Islanders' grittiest and most intense defensemen of all-time, Ken Morrow played the game with a high level of intelligence. He knew when to make the right play, seemingly all of the time, making him a key contributor to the Islanders' great historical run in the early 1980s. After joining the Islanders during the 1979-80 season, Morrow would eventually help lead the team to its first championship in his rookie campaign. He became the first player to ever win Olympic Gold and a Stanley Cup in the same year. Morrow would spend his entire career with the Islanders, which was eventually cut short due to knee problems.

Stefan Persson
Selected in the 14th round (214th overall) of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft

Selected in the 14th round of the 1974 NHL Entry Draft – yes, you read that correctly – defenseman Stefan Persson was as integral a member of the Core of 4 as any Islander player. As a 23-year-old rookie in 1977-78, Stefan rang up 50 assists, an NHL record for rookie defensemen (his 56 points as a first year blueliner is a team record that that still stands). Stefan kept contributing, serving as a key member on all four Cup winners (though he had to take his 1981 victory lap after having watched the game from the press box due to a broken jaw). He was a valued Islander until his retirement after the 1985-86 season – too soon for most Islander fans. He was the perfect complementary player on one of the best, most versatile defense units the NHL has ever seen – and a joy to watch.

Bob Nystrom
Selected in 3rd round (33rd overall) of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft

Mr. Islander, Bobby Nystrom, will live in the hearts of Islanders fans forever because of the shot that brought Long Island its first Stanley Cup Championship. But it was also the heart that he brought to the Islanders and their faithful that makes Nystrom so special to the organization. It was on May 24, 1980 that Nystrom secured his place in Islanders history. It was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals and the Islanders were looking to close out the Flyers at the Coliseum. The Islanders took a 4-2 lead into the third period, but could not hold their momentum and saw themselves tied 4-4 heading into sudden death overtime. At 7:11 of the first overtime, Nystrom would deflect a pass from John Tonelli into the Philadelphia net giving the Islanders their first ever Stanley Cup. No player drafted before Nystrom in 1972 accomplished so much with just one shot.

Bryan Trottier
Selected in the 2nd round (22nd overall) of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft

It could be argued that it was a steal to pick Bryan Trottier anywhere other than first overall. After picking Clark Gillies fourth overall in 1974 (not a bad choice), the Islanders waited patiently for 17 other selections, including five by the Montreal Canadiens, before choosing their future all-time points leader 22nd overall. One of the best two-way centers to ever play the game of hockey, Trottier was a staple in the Islanders lineup throughout the four-year Stanley Cup run. The Val Marie, Saskatchewan-native was drafted by the Islanders in the 1974 Entry Draft. Less than 25 years later, Trottier became a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame after registering 524 goals and 901 assists in 1,259 games. He appeared in 221 playoff games, registering 71 goals and 113 assists. Trottier spent 15 years on Long Island and ranks among the top five in just about every statistical category in Islanders history. Most notably, through the playoff run that brought four Stanley Cups to Long Island, Trottier recorded a point in 27 straight playoff games, an NHL record that still stands today. His number 19 jersey was raised to the rafters in a ceremony on October 20, 2001.

Check back next week for another NYI Top 10 List.

Draft steals 6-10

Click here for NYI DRAFT CENTRAL 2008 info.




1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 55 32 17 6 153 127 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
5 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 CAR 55 24 21 10 131 143 58
11 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
12 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
15 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47


J. Tavares 50 20 23 -2 43
K. Okposo 51 15 28 -9 43
F. Nielsen 53 15 19 -1 34
B. Nelson 53 20 11 -1 31
M. Grabovski 53 9 16 3 25
A. Lee 53 9 15 0 24
J. Bailey 52 9 15 4 24
N. Leddy 53 3 21 -7 24
R. Strome 42 6 15 -4 21
C. Cizikas 53 5 12 5 17
J. Halak 13 11 4 .918 2.27
T. Greiss 15 6 2 .929 2.24
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