The New York Islanders head into the Nassau Coliseum looking for the season-sweep of the Montreal Canadiens tonight.
Michael Grabner and Matt Carkner return to the Islanders’ line-up tonight, which should be beneficial to an Isles team that is heading into the final stretch of the season. Grabner remains third on the Isles in goals (10), and Carkner should add the toughness on the blue-line that Islanders’ fans enjoyed at the beginning of the season.
Kevin Poulin will also be getting the start tonight. Say what you will, but I hope Poulin steals the show. It’s his chance to make a big impression, and if he’s supposed to be the Islanders future in goal, it would be nice for him to seize the opportunity, and run with it.
After a crushing loss on Tuesday against the Senators, the Isles need to get at least 3 points out of their next two games, which is going to be tough, but not impossible. Hopefully, the Isles start off on the right foot on the first night of back-to-back games. Two points would be welcomed with open arms, so Isles, please come out flying. Also, finish the game flying because, as we have seen during the past two games, it’s not about how you start, but how you finish.
With that being said, there is some news out of Islanders Country on this snowy afternoon. Arthur Staple reports that the Islanders are “in” on 6’8 undrafted UFA Andrej Sustr. His decision is expected in the next 1-2 days, and with the Rangers, Flyers, and other teams also “in” on the highly-sought defenseman, should we expect the Islanders to definitely sign him? No, but it would be nice.
You can’t teach size, and the Islanders are certainly lacking it on their blue-line. Sure, the Isles went out and claimed Joe Finley off of waivers, but it’s becoming evidently clear that Finley may not be “NHL-ready.” I think Finley should be sent to the AHL because what good is it for him, or the Islanders, if he’s sitting in the press-box? I guess that’s a conversation to have another time.
Sustr made up one-half of a gigantic defensive pairing at Nebraska-Omaha (his partner was 6’7), but decided to leave school in pursuit of an NHL contract after his team was eliminated from the WCHA playoffs.
At 22-years-old, Suster led UNO defensemen in scoring with 25 points (9 G, 16 A) through 39 games, but that isn’t necessarily his drawing point.
Reportedly, Sustr has plenty of raw talent to go along with his size, and uses every bit of his size to his advantage.With his size, Sustr has plenty of reach with his poke checks, making it very difficult for opposing players to skate around him, or make passes near him.
The Czech-born prospect is also a smart defenseman with a natural hockey sense that keeps him in the right position to break-up plays. That, along with his 6-8 frame, helps him clog up shooting and passing lanes, which is particularly useful because his skating is not his strong-suit. “He almost skates faster backwards.”
Despite his raw skating ability, Sustr still manages to find himself playing in all situations, including penalty-kills and power-plays. Sustr was on the first-unit for both during Nebraska-Omaha’s past season.
In Isles terms, signing Sustr may give them more flexibility come the trade deadline, where decisions will have to be made on special-teams mainstays Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky. If Sustr were to sign, perhaps he could be active on both units, where his size and vision may be of use to the Islanders. The signing could allow them to move, say, Mark Streit, who has struggled defensively for the Islanders this year.
At his best, Sustr is considered to be a good two-way defenseman who can chip in offensively. No, he’s not Zdeno Chara (at least not yet), but he can play physically in his own end, and play steady defense in front of his goalie.
There are plenty of naysayers out there. Why would he sign here, blah, blah. If there was anything the Isles could offer Sustr, which many teams probably wouldn’t, it would be playing time. Sustr would most likely get the opportunity to make an impact right off the bat. Perhaps Sustr could run away with it.
It would be nice for the Islanders to sign him, even if it was just because a “highly-sought” UFA decided to choose the Islanders over “stronger” suitors. If the Islanders could sign Andrej Sustr, who’s to say this move would make the Islanders any worse?
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.
Filed Under: New York Islanders
About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants