BLOG POST

Edible Rex

By Danny Radical

#IslesKoolAid is a wide ranging, silly bunch. Some KoolAid are realistic to some extent, like #KoolAidRob, who admitted a few games ago that the Islanders are not a playoff team. But there are the true Kool Aid junkies who come out at this point of the season. For example:

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These kool aid drinkers are so bought in that they can't admit that this season, like so many others, was a waste of rooting time. They say HORRIBLY stupid things like "If just Gibson was the goalie all season," ignoring that the Isles defense allows 50 shots a night but somehow Gibson would have singlehandedly fixed that. Or they say things like "If Devon Toews was healthy, just like Garth said, he would have saved the season even though he was a guy that was cut during training camp, so that kept us from the coveted 8th seed. Not the first seed- God forbid, but the 8th seed."

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Wow.

Then there's the NHL excuses, like "If Nikolai Kulemin were still here, our penalty kill would be less atrocious." Or "Calvin DeHaan- the guy offered a pay cut- is a top defenseman in the NHL." This is why Isles Kool Aid never gets it. They make excuses for horrible play by comparing it to the Gluckstern Islanders and claiming it's a golden age.
In fact, Kool Aid is so bought in that they'll make stupid statements like "Mike Milbury is the worst GM in NHL history." Folks, Kool Aid- and everyone else- is witness to the worst GM in modern NHL history. His name is Garth Snow.
The most recent Kool Aid mythology as this season burns down is "Garth Snow is good at drafting." That's an interesting statement. Largely because, if someone was good at drafting, wouldn't they have results to show it? Like you know...wins?

The purpose of this piece isn't just to show that Garth Snow is terrible at drafting. It's going to be multifaceted. We're going to compare Snow to his "equals" in the present NHL- folks with 10 or more years on the job- as well as Snow's predecessor, "Mad Mike" Milbury.

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To start, we're going to look at GM's who have drafted players for over a decade, and the level of success of each. It's small company:

There's David Poile of the Nashville Predators. There's Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings. There's Doug Wilson of the San Jose Sharks.

To start, all of these GM's have gone to a Stanley Cup Finals. One GM has a ring for it. But Snow?

He has one playoff series win in 12 years. He proudly shows off his Onion Ring. Then he eats it.

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When it comes to drafting, consider this: Poile took Ryan Suter and Shea Weber in the same draft. He turned Weber into PK Subban. He turned Martin Erat into Filip Forsberg. He drafted three 1000 game players. Patrick Hornqvist is a multiple cup champion that Poile brought to the NHL. Alexander Radulov was close to a point a game player. Poile may be a little bit of an underachiever, but based on the energy around the Preds in the playoffs last year, he's done OK by Nashville.

Next up is Ken Holland. Holland drafted Pavel Datsuyk, Henrik Zetterburg, Niklas Kronwall, Dylan Larkin, and Alan Quine. There's some hall of famers in there, and there's some cup winners. Then there's the guy that Garth Snow desired.

Third is Doug Wilson. Doug Wilson is bad at drafting. Thomas Hertl may be his best draft pick. That's OK- Wilson is good at acquiring players to fit his system and managing a cap. So good, in fact, that San Jose is competitive every year, has recently gone to the Stanley Cup finals, and are in striking distance of the #IslesKoolAid Stanley Cup- a 100 point season.

Then there's draftmaster Garth Snow. Snow has sat on many first round picks (13 of them presently, plus a potential 2 more lottery picks) including 5 top 5 picks. Of the five top 5 picks Snow drafted, only one plays for the New York Islanders- John Tavares.

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Ever see Snow's first NHL draft? Neither did the players he took, as they produced nothing at the NHL level. A whole year shot to shit. Wow.

What happened next? Snow traded down with his first ever top 5 pick. In doing so, he became the second GM in the last 20 years to trade out of the top 5 for a non top 5 pick or NHL player. That other GM was fired shortly after.

The next top 5 pick was John Tavares. Snow nearly screwed that up, but was put in his place by of all people Charles Wang, the guy with the hockey for dummies book. XM Radio reported that Snow was all in on Matt Duchene. It's not like Snow didn't try to trade for Duchene later on, amiright?

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After that? Nino Neiderreiter. Nino was traded for a 4th liner. To save face, Snow paid the 4th liner over $3 million a year. As per Capfriendly.com, it's hard to find a 4th liner making close to $4 million per year in the NHL. Snow has two.

Top 5 pick after Nino? Ryan Strome. Strome's first year was a step below present Islander Matthew Barzal's first year.

So let's wait a year before we anoint Barzal the next big thing. Also, to acquire Barzal Snow traded a top 4 draft pick away in the form of defenseman Griffin Reinhart.

Reinhart was a reach in his draft slot, like all Reinharts are. There are plenty of defensemen from Reinharts class that have exceeded him and were available at 4th overall. And the present Islanders need defense more than scoring. So whereas we all like what Barzal does, the Islanders would be better suited in having a defenseman that was the defensive equivalent of Barzal, who the 4th overall spot 6 years ago was supposed to produce.

Also, Snow once tried to trade an entire draft to move up two spots. The GM that refused the offer was fired for his stupidity in saying no. Snow was promoted to Team President, Alternate Governor, and Master of the Seven Seas for making such a stupid offer. Because, accountability.

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To compare Snow with his peers in drafting, the only guy he has a leg up on in drafting in my opinion is Wilson. The best players Snow has drafted are as follows:

Jared Spurgeon (Zero games as an Islander), John Tavares, Nino Neiderriter, Anders Lee, and Matthew Barzal. Over 11 drafts.

How did I determine this? Not by games played per se. Games played is a crutch for players on bad teams. Look at Josh Bailey. He's played in 8 bad team seasons in his career, yet he has over 500 games played. If Bailey was drafted by the Lightning? He's have been 21 for his NHL debut, seen even more AHL time, and have MAYBE 250 games to his resume.

No, we measure these draft picks by production. And the greatest measure of productive drafting is wins. Lets look at the record: over 12 drafts, how much winning have Garth Snow-created teams done?

And the answer is, three playoff appearances and one playoff round win in 12 years.

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Understand that this is all of the success that Snow has had with his drafting. Of the 80+ players Snow drafted, including 13 first round draft picks and five top 5 picks, all he has to show for it is one playoff series win.

One playoff series win makes him just ONE series better than his predecessor, Mike Milbury. Milbury and Snow have the same amount of seasons where their team made the playoffs. Milbury drafted Zdeno Chara, Roberto Lunogo, JP Dumont, Eric Brewer, Rick DiPietro, and Frans Neilsen. That may be a little better than Snow's highlights, because there's viable players at all 3 positions.

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They even know in Nashville.

Also, the #IslesKoolAid point at the Alexei Yashin deal as the brainchild of Mike Milbury (it wasn't) but totally dismiss the 15 year contract on a career already 5 years old for Rick DiPietro signed by Garth Snow. It's this simple, folks- It's either Wang did both, or Milbury and Snow own their disgraces. In the case of DiPietro, his disgrace gets paid through 2029. Yashin was used to hit a cap floor and not help the team, while DiPietro's cap hit impacts the ability for the future to spend on players salaries.

Also, Milbury managed to trade up into the lottery in the NHL draft. Snow prefers to trade out of the lottery. Milbury turned Kevin Weekes into a top 5 pick. Kevin Weekes! That's a friggin amazing deal. WAY better than Alexei Zhitnik for Freddy Meyer IV. Or two 30 goal scorers and a 1st for a guy that never saw the NHL.

Lest anyone think I am saying Garth Snow is a contemporary of Poile, Holland, and Wilson, well, his win-loss just doesn't compare. And if anyone is thinking that I feel Mike Milbury is a better GM than Garth Snow, understand that I was at the Coli back in the day with the Mike Must Go signs. I had a sign that I snuck into the draft party that said "Will Play Right Wing for Food."

And having lived through that, I prefer Milbury to Snow.

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The way I see it, both are equally bad at some aspects. Snow, after 12 years and counting has no single achievement to hang over Milbury's head. While #SnowBlowers will say Snow ran a cap floor team, at one point Milbury had an $11 million budget for a whole team. Both guys had to deal with shoestring budgets, then both guys got an era to spend cash.


But when Milbury had an underperforming team, he fired the coach and took over. Snow watches the house burn down, look at the hose like it's an enemy, and hopes someone rebuilds it. Snow hasn't grabbed the reins, hasn't put skates on to discuss on ice philosophy, and hasn't even strapped on the pads to encourage his team.

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He'll sit at the eateries across from the Coliseum, but not at work. So yeah, if I had to choose between Milbury and Snow, I pick Milbury.

And isn't that the saddest thing you ever heard? That Wang couldn't do better than Milbury? Horrifying.
Snow and Milbury have this in common- both of them were employed by the same owner. Hopefully the new owners will rectify this, as it's been two years into their stewardship, and what are they looking at?

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Garth Snow failed to do what more than half of the NHL does- reach the postseason. 12 years, 3 playoffs. Statistically, 25% in a game where 50% is the norm. Unless Malkin and Ledecky grow some sack, all Islanders fans will get is more of the same. And when Belmont opens? The same attendance as the Barclays. Great building, slum team.