The Isles' 'Win or Lose?' verdict

Thanks for the great comments to yesterday's blog post on whether the Islanders should play to win or play for a better draft pick. The overwhelming majority of posters said they should play to win the game. You now have Herm Edwards' approval. Well done.

Here's my two cents: You have to play to win. Period. Even if you're rebuilding, the second you start treating games like they don't matter I believe your players will start treating the team like it doesn't matter. That's a behavior you'd never want to encourage.

The Islanders' drafted talent is deep, though I think some folks might be overrating it slightly. Hockey's Future currently ranks the Isles' organization 17th overall. If they can ever get Kirill Petrov to come over, that's another step in the right direction. Or if Kirill Kabanov finally gets hit with the sanity stick and comes back (to Earth, not just the Island) that gamble of a pick could pay off.

Still there are at least two up-and-coming studs. Nino Niederreiter is certainly projected to be a star and of the players who have yet to have more than a cup of coffee in the NHL, Calvin de Haan gets into that conversation as well. Could the Islanders use a center like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Absolutely. But as one commenter pointed out, Ryan Strome out of Niagara in the OHL isn't too shabby either. And if Adam Larsson slips out of reach, then they may even be able to trade down and hulking Jamieson Oleksiak might provide the Isles a shot at another Zdeno Chara-type defenseman.

Bottom line: the Islanders aren't that far away from being a playoff team. Injuries to Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit probably killed that hope instantly this season. But next season? Hey, as far as I'm concerned, the Isles' 2011-12 season starts now and runs all through this summer as they continue to shape their roster.