It was hard for Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello to be disappointed in not having a first- or second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Considering the organization gave up its top two picks to the Senators in February in exchange for Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who played a major role in the Islanders’ playoff run with 11 points and has already established himself as a crucial part of the team’s offense, Lamoriello said his scouts still feel good about the potential assets they gave up for the 5-foot-9 fireball center.
“You’d love to have as many first[s] and second[s] as you can, there’s no question about that,” Lamoriello said on a Zoom call Wednesday night. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have it today but fortunately, we were able to acquire a player as we did in Pageau with our first and second picks.”
But even without their first- and second-round selections, Lamoriello said the organization’s objective in the draft didn’t change. The goal was still to “get the best possible players available that will allow you to stockpile your assets.”
The Islanders didn’t make their first selection in the draft until the end of the third round with the No. 90 pick, taking left winger Alexander Ljungkrantz. The 6-foot-1 Swede said on a Zoom call following the selection that he would consider himself a “speedy forward” who works hard to create goal opportunities.
The 18-year-old admitted he still has “a bit left to learn,” though he was a decent contributor for the SHL’s Brynas Under-20 team with 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists) in 42 games in 2019-20.
At the end of the fourth and fifth rounds, the Islanders picked up right wingers. At No. 121, the Islanders selected Alex Jefferies, and at No. 152, they took William Dufour. Jefferies is committed to Merrimack of Hockey East for the 2020-21 season, but said he was excited to be a part of the “historic franchise.”
The 18-year-old described himself as “a goal-scoring winger,” but added he pride himself on “being a 200-foot player and being good in the defensive end.”
Dufour is a 6-3 201-pound power forward, the kind of player who can drive to the net with and without the puck. The Islanders also picked up a defenseman at No. 183 by selecting Matias Rajaniemi.
With free agency set to begin Friday, Lamoriello said the team’s intentions are still the same. Despite a relatively tight budget to work with, especially after making qualifying offers to nine of their 10 restricted free agents, Lamoriello wouldn’t comment on whether the team planned on moving some big contracts to make room.
What Lamoriello would say is the Islanders are in the midst of a very exciting time.
“With Belmont, it’s just going to be an outstanding facility, our players are excited about it,” he said. “And having one more year at the Coliseum, there’s an excitement there. There’s a lot of positive things going on right now and certainly we have some work to do, we know that, we’ll get that done in due course.”
Pick No. 90
Position: Left winger
Weight: 185 lbs
From: Galve, Sweden
Skinny: With solid awareness off the puck, Ljungkrantz can generate good speed up the ice and his wrist shot has some power behind it as well. Would be best suited in a bottom-six role because of his work ethic.
Pick No. 121
Weight: 194 lbs
From: Lunenburg, Mass.
Skinny: Can weave throughout the neutral zone and has displayed excellent vision and passing ability. Has a knack for completing high difficulty passes through traffic and creating dangerous chances for his teammates.
Pick No. 152
Position: Right wing
Weight: 201 lbs
From: Quebec City, Quebec
Skinny: A power forward kind of player who likes to drive to net both with and without the puck. Could use some work on his skating but has a valuable skill set.
Pick No. 183
Weight: 205 lbs
From: Lahti, Finland
Skinny: One of the youngest players eligible in this draft, Rajaniemi saw a major uptick in his time this season with the Liiga’s Pelicans. He quarterbacked his team’ top power-play unit and is at his best when making simple passes.
Pick No. 214
Weight: 201 lbs
From: Lohja, Finland
Skinny: In 39 games for the Jr. A SM-liiga’s HIFK U20, Tikkanen posted a .895 save percentage. Is described as raw but with a tremendous upside.
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