It was easy to keep a little quite over the past several weeks. My work dictated that. But the play of the Islanders from Thanksgiving weekend through the early part of December improved greatly, and the team put some wins together — climbing out of the NHL basement, and giving us fans a small glimmer of hope. But we are right back where we started after 3 straight losses.
In part 1, in the midst of some real problems, there was a great deal of talk about Jack Capuano and the need for “an NHL coach” for the team. Well, it is become increasingly clear since that installment, that Cappy is going to finish this season behind the Islanders bench barring a complete and total collapse. And, I would expect Cappy to start the 2012-13 campaign. Snow is not going to change coaches like underwear. Any designs on seeing recently fired Randy Carlyle, Jacques Martin or someone else behind the boys in blue and orange is pure fantasy. I even recently read a post about getting Mike Keenan.
And while some like putting the teams troubles all on the coach, there are also players to contend with when it comes to any sports team. Today, I will give my 2 nickles worth of thoughts on the Islanders goalies. I still have to get some of my thoughts in on the Defense, forwards, and of course Garth Snow and Charles Wang.
We began the year all groaning. Another season with 3 goalies. It did not work last time, and it was unlikely to work this year. Those who thought it would be fine are right — so far, and those who thought it would be bad — are also right. It is bad because early on, in the midst of our skid in November, we had no roster flexibility to bring in young players to possibly creates a spark. On the other hand, the decision on who dresses has been easy as one of the three has been injured at any given time. (Insert DiPietro joke here….)
The Goalies of Today
Right now the Islanders have three goalies — 2 of them belong in the NHL, one barely belongs on an skate sharpening machine. We all know who is who.
Al Montoya came in and won the job of starter with his steady play last season. He deserved the home opener start, and his play thus far this season save for a very small percentage of ones he would like back, Al Montoya is the clear cut Islanders number 1. He is on a 1 year deal this season, and I would have to believe (and please, make your case if I am wrong) that he is in line for a contract extension. Although even i could speculate about a trade of Montoya — which I’ll do later on….
Evgeni Nabokov actually reported this time to the Islanders, and he has been adequate for the team. He is certainly a step off from where he may once have been, but one has to wonder if that has more to do with team defense and a lack of goal support. With DiPietro being…you know….Dipietro, we should be kissing Nabby’s glove hand that he showed up.
If Nabokov is the eventual “odd man out” and he is traded it certainly allowed the Islanders some stability in the crease during his time here. If he stays and completes the season on Long Island, it is still a “win” for the Islanders as it keeps Poulin and Nillson in Bridgeport which is where they belong at this time.
Is there any more that really has to be said?
He is the final element of the Mike Milbury “error,” representing everything that was/is wrong with that time, and the man who in essence destroyed a model NHL franchise. Not only can the man not stay healthy — he is the worst goalie I’ve seen play in a long time. It might be because of his injuries — he cant move the way he maybe once could, but that 5¢ head has crippled him since he arrived. The reason the team plays better in front of Montoya or Nabokov is self evident. There is only one thing left to do — advocate for the man to retire. If he cares about the Islanders as much as he says he does, then he needs to pack his gear and walk away — forever!
Mike Milbury once said that DiPietro was the best puck handling goalie he’d ever scene. My question was, “yeah, but can he stop the puck?” If DiPietro wants to play the puck so much, I always wanted to ask him why he does not changes positions — try defense. Sure he strung together some reasonable stats when healthy, even a few shut-outs. But he has never amounted to anything of consequence that was positive for the Islanders. Considering we gave up the chance at drafting a player like Gaborik or Heatley, and having Roberto Luongo as the franchises goalie, the impact of that draft is still being felt, and will be as long as Rick DiPietro remains an active member of the Islanders and Gaborik, Heatley and Luongo continue on their stellar careers.
The Choices Moving Forward
The first step would actually be to take on additional salary. As much as I would like to, waiving or releasing DiPietro removes his $4.5 million cap hit, and we need it in order to be cap compliant. So the first order of business really has to be adding salary. That is an argument for another post — who, when, where.
Putting salary aside for a moment, eliminating DiPietro is the only viable option, finishing the campaign with Montoya and Nabokov. But, that too has issues. Both have needed time off for injury, which is why having the three goalies has worked to a point. It appears that with the team going no place this season, rotating the status quo may be the prudent move.
Trading one of the three is a possibility should all three prove healthy for a long stretch, and a deal comes in that you can’t refuse.
What to expect
If the team slides into complete oblivion, they will make a move with their goalies, but I would hold Snow to his word from the Newsday article. He will likely finish the year at this point with what he has. The problem this season has not been goaltending unless #39 is in the crease. Overall, inconsistent play and the lack of offense has been a bigger issue then the goaltending. Think about it… other then a few games
Who would your choice be?
By all means — I love reading your thoughts, and get your own take. My choice would actually be to listen
to all offers for starters, and as crazy as this may seem — Montoya might be the one I would trade.
Here is why.
His value is far higher then Nabokov’s. He is younger and has played far better. He is an inexpensive option, and can be traded without question as he lacks the NMC that Nabokov has. This means moving Nabokov would be contingent on his approval. So any desire to simply trade Nabby to Columbus is wishful thinking. But trading Nabokov to a team like Columbus and bringing in a player perhaps with some size… a big center to give Strome time next season…. a big blueliner who can log lots of minutes and be reliable?
Of course in any deal, it can’t be a rental. It has to be a player signed long term or young and willing to be part of the long term solution.
Montoya alone is not getting us an All-Star mind you, but of the three goalies — he is the one that would be easiest to trade. Sending Nabokov to Detroit at the deadline is not getting us a second round pick — and if Detroit or anyone offers Snow a second, he should make that deal and laugh all the way to the draft podium in June.
Ultimately, the goaltending reigns look to be heading in the direction of a possible duo of Montoya and Poulin.
About the Author: A graphic designer who loves the game....and knows that age has slowed him down — but the passion is there. Islanders fan since the 70s, Dad, Husband and Coach of the Flying Tiger's Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: http://twitter.com/FilamentDesigns