It was a big day for key hockey operations decisions for the New York Islanders.
Before revealing they had signed goaltender Jaroslav Halak to a four-year deal, the club announced how they will complete the deal they made with the Buffalo Sabres way back in late October when they traded a package that included Matt Moulson, a conditional 2014 first-round draft pick, and 2015 second-round pick for Thomas Vanek. The club of course eventually traded Vanek to the Canadiens, but they still had to square up what to do with that conditional first-round pick with the Sabres.
Those conditions allowed the Islanders to keep the 2014 pick if it landed in the top 10 and defer the first-rounder to 2015 if they chose to do so. The Isles ended up with the No. 5 pick in 2014 and reportedly had until June 1 to make a decision on whether or not they would keep it.
The club announced Thursday that they will in fact keep the pick for 2014, meaning the Sabres will get the Isles' 2015 first-round choice.
The decision for the Islanders was a complicated one. The 2014 NHL Draft is not considered terribly deep and even the top-end guys have some questions. The 2015 Draft meanwhile is expected to be loaded with top-end talent, most notably Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid and Boston University-bound forward Jack Eichel.
However, there's obviously no guarantee they'd land in a spot favorable to land either, or even land in the top 10 of the draft. This year, they have a guaranteed fifth overall pick. The depth of this year's draft doesn't really matter at that point. They're going to land a solid player at No. 5.
Going with the sure thing makes a lot of sense. If the Islanders have a bad season next year, they'll regret it in hindsight, but at this point in time it's the sensible move. They can't predict the future. They can, based on a full year of scouting from their staff, know if they can land an impact prospect at No. 5. It seems like they feel they will.