Expect more of the same form the Islanders.
Why? The better question is, why would you expect anything different? Looking at the roster as it appears, here is what you can expect. John Tavares will solidify himself as a Top 5 center in the league. Matt Moulson will score goals from areas no other Islander will go to, and almost every one of his goals will come off John Tavares passes. Brad Boyes, hope for 15 goals, but expect 10. Frans Nielsen, will get his quiet 20 prorated pts, while netting 5 shoot out goals. Kyle Okposo will solidify himself as the Isles top two-way forward. Michael Grabner, rebounding from his cement hands last year, will again contribute on the short handed side, but a lack of an outlet passer will hurt his even strength production. Josh Bailey. Well, Josh is a nice kid- he likes chains. Matt Martin will continue to improve his overall game. The defense will continue not to score. Some will not show up in games, while another will not show at training camp. Nabakov will play his formerly communist tail off. DP, well we know his story, so expect Poulin, as an injury call up, to continue to improve and actually start to stop some of the first shots that teams fire on him. Capuano will not be fired, Weight will say they are close to something, Thompson will be happy to have a job. Snow will age 10 years and draft more players that are 6 years away. Wang will continue to rob fans of money and dignity. Did I miss anything?
Was There Really an Off-Season? If So, Did someone Inform the Islanders?
Ahhhh, the off-season. A time to add to a budding young team, re-sign players, let others go, fill holes, draft the future, make trades. Well, for most teams.
Going in to the off-season the Islanders had the following holes:
First Line Wing
Second/Third Line Center
Second Line Wing
Top 4 Defenseman
Defensemen with size
First Line Wing: with the loss of P.A. Parenteau, there is a hole on the first line. I agree, like many others do, that Kyle Okposo could and should be in that spot. However, Man vs. Hockey sees it differently so there is a hole there.
Second/Third Line Center: Bailey, being anointed an actual contributor since he moved to wing, is now hall of fame bound after three good games. He will not be returning to what may be his best position (try surrounding him with guys other than Rob Schremp, Brian Rolston, Jay Pandalfo and John Sim). If fan favorite and king of the shoot out moves to center the second line, then we have hole on the third line.
Second Line Wing: Simply not enough guys on the roster or NHL ready players in the system, a glaring hole. Do you plug Nino back into the mix into this spot? Could he do worse than 1 goal?
Top 4 Defensemen: Streit, Ha Ha Hamonic, MacDonald, ?
Defensemen with size: Last I checked, Reinhart is 2 years away, Mayfield and Pedan about 3.
What we did:
First Line Wing – Brad Boyes. Hoping for Moulson part 2, however none of our Cinderella stories were declining players. Nice try Garth, but not fair to Tavares and absolutely ridiculous that a player with no other options is handed a first line spot. Hole not filled.
Second/Third Line Center – Though Ryan Strome (who is indeed a better option than Mr. No Shots Bailey) will likely play here either this year or next, a veteran for him to learn under would have been nice. Hole not filled
Second Line Wing – Our best bet in the system is highly unproven Krill Kabanov, or highly confused Nino. Again, a vet to help Strome would have been ideal, but – hole not filled.
Top 4 Defenseman – Lubo acquired, Lubo unhappy. I will give Snow a pass, he tried to put a square peg in a square hole and as it always seems it still didn’t fit. Guess Lubo already knows he was brought in for the cap hit and will be dealt for a third round pick in March, and would rather just stay home.
Defensemen with size – Carkner. Hey alright, not bad. However, coming off of knee surgery, see past players with such an injury and how it hindered them. On the other hand, what team has the luxury of an above average player as their 5-6-7 d-man?
Oh and we got Eric Boulton, while letting fan favorite Michael Haley walk. Is there an organization more out of touch with its fans than this one? I don’t even know how to rate this move. It’s not lateral, and it’s not progress, especially considering how underutilized Haley was last year.
In short, for a perennial last place team that was 3rd to last in goals for, we did nothing to help our situation. So, looking at the upcoming season, expect the usual- 5th in the Atlantic, 46 points, competing for the #1 pick in the draft for the sixth year in a row. And of course, we’ll be watching every game.
About the Author: We are two long time hockey fans who certainly have our own opinions and points of view. Feel free to share yours. Follow on twitter @joshbarely