The Islanders and their fans could use a little hope. The team has missed the playoffs in three of the last four years, and 10 of the last 14, and the roster has been stripped to the bone in the process. All of the team's losing has taken place with a backdrop of a potential move off Long Island looming unless the team can secure a new arena. That's not a situation that makes for a lot of smiles, but, like many people down on their luck, Islander fans looked to the lottery for deliverance.
Prayers answered. The Isles won the NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday night, which gives them the right to one of two highly rated prospects. John Tavares is the best North American prospect. He scored 58 goals in 56 games in the Ontario Hockey League this season and broke Wayne Gretzky's junior hockey record for most goals by a 16-year-old in 2007.
Victor Hedman is the top player in Europe. He's a 6'6" defenseman who won Rookie of the Year in the Swedish Elite League this season and led the Swedish junior team to a silver medal at the world championships. He lost to Tavares and Canada, but the Islanders could give him the last laugh on draft day.
Either player will inject some much needed hope to a bleak situation, but first picks are double-edged swords. They won't fix everything, certainly not when a team has as many needs as the Islanders. Tavares and Heman both look like sure bets for success, but they could fail to pan out as hoped and keep the team locked in a losing cycle.
That's fear talking, though, and it is a time for hope on Long Island.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.