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New York Islanders Shore Up Their Defense at the NHL Draft

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 31:  Lubomir Visnovsky #17 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on March 31, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 4-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Frank TrovatoCorrespondent IJune 26, 2012

The Islanders used the 2012 NHL draft for one express purpose; to revamp the team's No. 1 problem in 2011.

Before the draft, Islanders' GM Garth Snow sent a 2013 second-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for 35-year-old NHL veteran blue-liner Lubomir Visnovsky

Visnovsky is an outstanding pickup for the Islanders for many reasons. One is his cap hit, which at $5.6 million is exactly what the team needs to reach the salary cap floor. Then there is the fact that his actual salary is $3 million, which helps maintain the Islanders' low budget. 

In addition, he also presents an outstanding trade chip option should the team falter in 2012-13 and fail to challenge for a playoff spot. He will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, so he does not come with a lengthy commitment.

Now the to the nuts and bolts. He is an excellent puck-moving and power-play defenseman who, with Mark Streit, will make either an excellent one-two punch on the point, or be the backbone of the No. 2 power-play unit. Either way, the Islanders' pathetic power play has been vastly improved. 

Onto the draft itself. What would the Islanders do with their pick? The top three selections went exactly as most people thought, with Nail Yakupov, Ryan Murray and Alex Galchenyuk going in the first three picks.

There was a collective gasp when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman walked to the podium and announced the there was a trade to announce. Were the Islanders trading down? Did they trade the pick for a veteran? 

As it turns out, all Bettman was announcing was the Islanders acquisition of Visnovsky. The Islanders were on the clock, and there was pretty much one name most of the fans in the know wanted to hear. When Snow walked up to the podium, that wish came true as 6'4" Griffin Reinhart joined him on stage minutes later.

When exactly Reinhart will be in an Islander uniform is anyone's guess, but it is unlikely to be this season. The Islanders' defense for 2012-12 looks to be set from one through four with Mark Streit, Visnovsky, Travis Hamonic and Andy MacDonald.  

Who will be the fifth and sixth defenseman you ask? Well, it's time for Calvin de Haan to show he belongs in the NHL and he should fill one of those spots.

Then you have Ty Wishart, Mark Katic and Aaron Ness who should all get consideration.  One wild card could be 6'4" Scott Mayfield who should get a long look in prospect camp. 

On a side note, or maybe it is not a side note and should be more front and center, the Islanders are hyping the heck out of their "Inaugural Game" at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, even selling T-shirts to mark the occasion.

I will examine this development in my next article.  Please discuss these and any other topics you want.

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