New York Islanders: Recapping the 2020 NHL Draft

Lou Lamoriello

The New York Islanders didn’t have a ton of picks in this year’s draft. Here’s what they did with those picks.

It was a draft to forget for the New York Islanders. To be fair they didn’t have much to work with, not making a selection until the third round, and they made some questionable decisions with the picks they did have.

The Islanders lost their first and second-round picks to the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline in exchange for Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

They got off to a controversial start with their first pick of the draft, the 90th overall. With that pick, they selected Swedish right-winger Alexander Ljungkratz.

The 18-year-old plays for Brynas in the SHL and scored 27 points in 42 games last year with their U20 team. This was an incredibly puzzling pick.

Ljungkratz is regarded by many as a potential depth player and, for that reason, was arguably taken too high. Scouts had been expecting him to take a leap over the past two years or so but that hasn’t really happened.

Ljungkratz isn’t particularly productive and projects as a bottom-six forward. He is gritty and a decent skater. His skill set isn’t jaw-dropping but he does have a good release. He’s also valued as a penalty killer.

An appropriate comparison is fellow Swedish right-winger Jesper Fast of the New York Rangers. Fast is more skilled and is a better passer but the two have similar playing styles in the sense that they’re both gritty and good on the penalty kill.

Ljungkratz likely won’t ever be as productive as Fast but the resemblance is there. Obviously, anything can happen. But as of right now, this pick doesn’t look too great. The Islanders could’ve done better here.

In the fourth round, with the 122nd pick, the Islanders took left winger Alex Jefferies. The 18-year-old American, who will be playing collegiate hockey for Merrimack College, was a step up for the Islanders. The Islanders value him for his goal-scoring ability.

He’s a great skater with a powerful shot and versatility — he’s listed as a left-winger but can play on either side. His defense is also one of his strengths.

It’s unclear if his excellent high school play can translate to higher levels, but this was a solid pick for the Islanders.

The Islanders drafted right-winger William Dufour in the fifth round with the 151st pick. At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Dufour is a big winger who protects the puck and is quite fast for his size.

As most scouting reports mention, the 18-year-old was taken quite high in the 2018 QMMJHL draft but has been traded three times in less than two years.

In 28 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in 2019-20, his most recent team, he recorded 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists) and already has three assists in two games this season.

Dufour is big enough but doesn’t use his body to his advantage, which is something he must work on if he hopes to be successful in the NHL.

In the sixth round, with the 183rd pick, the Islanders drafted left-handed defenseman Matias Rajaniemi. The only defenseman the Islanders took in this draft, Rajaniemi is huge, standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing 205 pounds.

He’s a decent skater for his size but there are questions surrounding his ability to replicate his play in the Finnish Liiga at the NHL-level. This is mainly because his skills with the puck aren’t great, at least not yet.

He also isn’t very creative and doesn’t have great vision but is a solid penalty killer and an efficient defensive defenseman. He has the potential to become a solid bottom pair defenseman.

In the seventh round, with their last pick of the 2020 draft, the Islanders selected Finnish goaltender Henrik Tikkanen 214th overall. Tikkanen is a massive goalie: the 20-year-old is 6-foot-8.

If he were to play in the NHL right now, he’d be the second tallest player and the tallest goalie in the league.

Tikkanen is a project pick and was predicted to go undrafted by several scouts. He has improved lately, especially from a technical aspect, but still has much to work on if he hopes to make it far.

There’s a chance he never makes it to the NHL, but fans can dream. After all, the last goalie named Henrik taken in the seventh round of a draft ended up doing pretty well for himself.

The Islanders definitely didn’t have the best of drafts but it’s incredibly difficult to blame them, for the most part, since they didn’t have nearly as many picks as most.

The cons of being a cup-contending team were very visible in this draft for the Islanders.

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