That is the choice the New York Islanders will have to make when they step up to the podium for the first overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.  Do the Islanders go for the offense and select John Tavares or do they take someone who can be a rock on the blue line be selecting Victor Hedman.  Either way it does appear that the Islanders cannot go wrong with either pick.


John Tavares is listed as a 6’0” Center who played most recently for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.  Tavares has certainly garnered plenty of attention since his early teen years.  He did spend most of his Junior career with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.  During his stint in Juniors Tavares piled up some impressive numbers including 215 regular season goals.  That total broke the 33 year old record for most goals in a junior career by two, the former record held by former Pittsburgh Penguins draft selection Peter Lee.  Tavares has also been a force on the international front for Canada.  He has participated in two World Junior Championships earning a Gold Medal on both occasions.  His grand total of 12 goals in the World Juniors tied the record held jointly held by Eric Lindros and Jeff Carter.  Clearly Tavares has the offensive talent to bolster the Islanders attack.


Victor Hedman is a 6’6” left handed shooting defenseman.  The first thing that jumps out about Hedman is his size.  There is more to his game though than just size.  Hedman has been playing for Modo in the Elitserien the top tier league in Sweden.  His 2008-09 numbers for Modo were 43 games played with 7 goals and 14 assists and he also recorded a +22 rating.  Those numbers were good enough to earn him the Rookie of the Year award in the Eltiserien.  Hedman has also participated in the World Juniors for Sweden.  Twice his Swedish team earned a Silver Medal.  Each time the Swedes lost to Canada in the Gold Medal game.  I got to watch Hedman during this year’s World Junior’s but I must say it was pretty obvious that he was nursing an injury so I really could not get a good feel for his total game.  Given his size alone and reputation he would make a tremendous addition to the defensive core for any team.


So whom do the Islanders select?  If I were selecting I would pick Tavares, but then I always favor the offensive talent over the defensive.  Either way the Islanders are sure to be a better team with either player.  The other team to benefit will be the Tampa Bay Lightning who own the second overall selection. 


Some other names to keep an eye on during the selection process:

  • Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (Timra) – 6’1” Swedish Left Wing who really impressed me at the WJC.  He definitely has the outside speed and offensive creativity to make an impact in the NHL.
  • Nazem Kadri (London Knights) – 6’0” Center who has great stickhandling ability and has also won the Memorial Cup.  He is my darkhorse selection to move up into the top 10.


Live coverage of the entry draft begins on June 26, 2009 from 7PM on the Versus network in the United States and on TSN in Canada.  The NHL Network picks up day two coverage on June 27 from 10AM.


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