While Lou Lamoriello continues to shape the Islanders' hockey operations, adding the highly-respected Steve Pellegrini on Tuesday as another assistant GM, word around team headquarters is that the incumbent members of the scouting staff will remain in place for the NHL Draft next weekend in Dallas.
This is as it should be. After all, they have been scouting the hockey world for the last year. To dismiss their reports and opinions would be foolish. The scouts at the table next Friday and Saturday will learn more about their futures with the Islanders by the end of June, if not by the end of draft weekend.
But this being our Islanders with their dysfunctional history, there was actually one draft where the scene at the draft table was anything but normal.
Yes, it's Islanders Point Blank Storytime…
It goes back to 2006 -- the last offseason the organization changed general managers. Twice.
When Neil Smith led the way for his 40-day summer internship in 2006, he immediately implemented the psychological testing system he had in his final years with the Rangers. (Many of you have heard about this system from NHL insiders like Bob McKenzie and Elliotte Friedman, so I'm not sharing trade secrets). Friedman recently wrote about the Islanders' survey for potential draft picks, with close to 200 questions in the 2018 version.
The Islanders system is neither genius -- as you can tell from their draft results -- nor revolutionary, but it is useful. All data is good.
But the Neil Smith scenario in 2006 was truly unique, and likely unprecedented in NHL history. On the job as GM for only two weeks, Smith completely ignored one year's worth of intel from the dozen or so Islanders scouts. While the scouts sat at the draft table stone-faced, Smith essentially put their work in a paper shredder and drafted off a list, compiled almost entirely off hastily-arranged psych testing.
How did it work out for Smith and the Islanders? Not too well. Kyle Okposo was taken 7th overall - a solid choice, when you see who was taken between him and Claude Giroux at 22. After then-coach Ted Nolan pleaded the case for his former defenseman in Moncton, a late pick was utilized on Andrew McDonald. Smith and his psychologists pretty much whiffed on their eleven other picks.
Relying on a balance with more traditional scouting, that testing system remained in place during the Garth Snow era with poor results. As anyone who was around the Islanders a decade ago could attest, the Islanders nailing late round picks with Anders Lee (2009) and Jared Spurgeon (2008) was a result of the work of former chief Ryan Jankowski (soon after fired by Snow) and his team of scouts.
On the surface, a reliance on psych testing doesn't seem like something Lamoriello would put much faith in. However, inheriting the system from former majority owner Charles Wang (who was a major proponent of the testing), co-owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky are known to have been impressed by it. Like everything else in this new Islanders world, in the end it will be up to Lamoriello.
Smart money is on there being little chance Lamoriello relies on it as heavily as Smith and Snow. In the Lamoriello era, the new normal will actually be normal.