In the fall of 1999, months before he was selected third overall by Minnesota, Marian Gaborik was considered to be the top prospects in the NHL draft.
Pierre McGuire wrote in SI at the time that many scouts were raving about a 17 year old Gaborik who he called an “explosive offensive force who has a good chance to be the No. 1 pick in the June entry draft.
That spring the New York Islanders won the draft lottery and Gaborik, along with Dany Heatley, were considered the top two choices for the Islanders.
Hockey’s Future said at the time, “Gaborik projects as a speedy game breaker, something the Isles desperatley need since the departure of Ziggy Palffy. Gaborik scored 25 goals in 50 games in the Slovak Men’s league and averaged almost a point a game. He starred at the World U-18 team with 6 goals and 8 points in 6 games for a weak Slovakian team.”
They add that the Islanders could trade the pick and try to acquire a veteran defenseman which, at the time, was considered their biggest need.
At the draft the Islanders held onto the first overall pick but traded Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Panthers for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish. They also traded future Ranger Kevin Weekes to get the fifth overall pick. Having traded two goalies, the Islanders selected Rick DiPietro with the first overall pick.
A year later, in November 2001, Nathan Robinson wrote at Hockey’s Future that big things were ahead for Gaborik.