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Draft Day Mania

Isles top picks remember their draft day experience

Saturday, 06.23.2012 / 1:23 AM / News
By Michael Kelley
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Draft Day Mania
The Islanders selected Ryan Strome with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft (Getty Images)

At 7:45 p.m. Friday, Griffin Reinhart’s life was changed forever when Islanders General Manager Garth Snow walked up to the podium at the 2012 NHL Draft and welcomed the young defenseman to the Long Island. Following pictures on stage with owner Charles Wang and other front office executives, Reinhart proceeded to enter the madness of draft day in the form of autograph signings, photo shoots, interviews, and even phone calls from new teammates John Tavares and Travis Hamonic.

This madness, though, is all part of what a few Islanders believe will be the best day of Reinhart’s life. Ryan Strome, Nino Niederreiter and Brock Nelson, all former first-round picks, have walked in the same shoes that Reinhart currently wears.

“He’s having the time of his life right now,” Strome, who the Islanders selected fifth overall in 2011, said. “It’s a huge day in your life and it’s a day you’ll never forget.”

Strome also offered advice to the organization’s newest addition.

“Enjoy everything you can because the moment doesn’t last too long,” he said.

Backstage, so much goes on that it creates a blur for the players.

“There was not much time you could talk and relax because you were just surrounded by media and other people,” Niederreiter, who the Islanders selected fifth overall in 2010, said. “It’s a very happy moment and just an amazing feeling.”

Nelson described the backstage activities as an honor in itself.

“It’s special for kids each and every year,” Nelson said.

By the time most draftees get a chance to check their cell phone, they usually find themselves bombarded with missed calls and text messages.

“I had a ton of messages from friends which took me quite a bit of time to reply to,” Nelson added.

“I didn’t even call anyone, I was getting calls,” Strome said, laughing. “I left my Twitter notifications on so my emails were going crazy and my phone battery died pretty quickly.”

While the post-selection activities are a whirlwind, the build up to the draft is slow and nerve-wracking.

It’s very hectic, exciting and the best day of your life. - Ryan Strome

“It actually took forever,” Niederreiter said. “You were waiting and waiting the whole day ‘til seven o’clock and then just hoping you hear your name get called as soon as possible.”

Unlike Niederreiter and Strome, Nelson had a longer wait, being selected with the 30th overall pick in the 2010 draft.

“I think it adds to the excitement, not knowing where and when you’re going and then all of a sudden hearing your name get called,” he said. “There a lot of emotions and obviously a lot of happiness.”

When the last interview is completed, the last puck is signed and the last photo is taken, only then can the players truly sit back, relax and enjoy some time with those that matter most, their family.

“It’s all happiness as soon as you’re back in the hotel with your family, reflecting on what happened,” Niederreiter said.

A year or two removed from their draft days, the three players still hold fond memories, despite the craziness they experienced.

When asked for one sentence to describe the draft day experience, Strome stated simply, “It’s very hectic, exciting and the best day of your life.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 48 23 25 -1 48
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 48 9 25 16 34
B. Nelson 48 15 15 5 30
F. Nielsen 48 9 17 4 26
J. Boychuk 38 4 21 16 25
J. Bailey 36 8 14 7 22
N. Leddy 48 7 14 14 21
N. Kulemin 48 11 9 0 20
A. Lee 42 13 5 6 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 26 10 0 .912 2.42
C. Johnson 6 5 0 .870 3.38

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