Islanders Mid Season Grades
The Islanders have endured a very disappointing first half. After losing 21 of 23, GM Garth Snow fired Head Coach Scott Gordon and replaced him with AHL coach Jack Capuano who has been able to relax things and there has been some improvement. The team has had some bright spots (the play of young defenseman Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic and the scoring and skating ability of Michael Grabner). But has also had to deal the with Evgeni Nabokov situation (which the team has handled perfectly in my opinion).
Without further delay….here are my Mid Season Grades….
John Tavares – 18-18-36- -21 – Grade B+
Tavares struggled through the first part of the season (as everybody did) and took the losing streak very hard (probably as he’s never been a part of anything like that in his young career). After Capuano took over, Tavares has played much better and is on pace for his first 30 goal season (the first of many we all hope). He has played his best with PA Parenteau and Matt Moulson on his wings (2 offensively minded wingers, shocking I know). With an infusion of some veteran talent, Tavares’ numbers should sky rocket. His -21 is an eye sore, but if you count how many late or empty net goals that have been scored with Tavares on the ice…that number would probably be in half.
PA Parenteau – 12-18-30- -11 – Grade B
Parenteau has been a pleasant surprise, as he has jelled with Tavares and Moulson to form a potent top line, and he has been a very positive presence in the locker room. His skating leaves a lot to be desired and he is sometimes a turnover machine, but Parenteau for his salary has been a very solid addition to this team. He most certainly should garner some attention at the deadline, if the team decides it won’t bring him back next season.
Blake Comeau – 13-17-30- -15 – Grade B-
Comeau has surpassed any offensive expectations with his 13 goals and 30 points so far. We are still waiting for him to become that Dustin Brown type player who can score 25 goals and gives you 3-5 hits a game. Comeau is at his best when he’s running around the ice, nailing people with his crushing hits and creating scoring opportunities. If some coach can get him to play like that on a nightly basis, the Islanders will have a heck of a player on their hands.
Matt Moulson – 17-12-29- -13 – Grade B
Moulson, who has recently signed a new 3 year contract extension with the Islanders, has had a bit of a rocky 1st half, and he still managed to score 17 goals. With his future on Long Island secure, I think you’ll see a much more relaxed Matt Moulson the rest of the season. He should still manage his 30 goals for a second straight season and hopefully will continue to be the great success story that he’s become.
Frans Nielsen – 5-16-21- -1- Grade B
Nielsen gets a B here since his goal scoring is down. His defense continues to be top notch and would be an annual Selke Finalist if he played on a better team. Nielsen, who was sold to fans as a second line center, is a very valuable player and every successful team needs a player of his caliber. It’s just a shame he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.
Michael Grabner – 15-6-21- +1- Grade A
Grabner, who amazingly was waived by the Florida Panthers after training camp, has become a big part of the Islanders rebuild. Grabner now has 15 goals and is averaging less than 14 minutes a game. He gets no power play time (which I’m still trying to figure out), and I’m a little surprised why I haven’t seen him a least tried on Tavares’ wing yet. The kid has amazing speed (proof of which him winning the fastest skater event at the ASG), and always seems to make something happen when he’s on the ice. He’s not a perfect player, but the Isles struck gold when they claimed this kid.
Rob Schremp – 7-12-19- -12 – Grade C+
Schremp has been up and down so far this season. He missed a chunk of time with a back injury, and at times has looked lost on the ice. He has games where he looks dominant with the puck with his amazing hands and moves, and at other times, he’s tossed off the puck and gives it up. Capuano has stated that with Schremp it’s about puck control, and it’s something he needs working on moving forward. He seems to have some chemistry with Comeau and that’s something to watch in the second half.
Andrew MacDonald – 1-16-17- -2- Grade A
MacDonald missed 15 games with a broken hand, it’s no wonder the Islanders won only one game after he went down with his injury. He has become a wonder on defense, and the team has played so much better with him in the lineup. The Islanders are 14-16-4 with him in the lineup, and 1-11-3 with him out of the lineup. He took over the #1 defenseman title once James Wisniewski was dealt to Montreal, and he hasn’t missed a beat. MacDonald seems to get better every night and he’s been paired with top prospect Travis Hamonic for the better part of the last 20 games. With 17 points in 34 games, it’ll be interesting to see if A-Mac can keep that pace up for a full season.
Josh Bailey – 6-9-15- -7- Grade D
I love Josh Bailey, but man is he having a rough go of it. He has 9 points since his recall from a month long stay in Bridgeport, and 3 of those points came in the same game. Bailey, has definitely taken a step back in his development and it’s up the team to help him. He’s a hard worker, and has come to camp in fantastic shape, but the Islanders are going to have to figure out something soon before Bailey’s development is stunted for good.
Doug Weight – 2-7-9- -3- Grade D
Weight, who came into camp saying he felt better than he had in years, suffered a back injury and his been mostly out of the lineup. He has already begun his transition into his post playing days career, as he has worked with the team in a coach’s capacity and most expect that he’ll continue with the Islanders after he retires at the end of this season. Though he still is the captain of this team, it definitely hurts not having him on the bench during the game. The fact team brought him back to play instead of being part of management is the mistake here. Weight is a excellent person and should be a great ambassador for the franchise moving forward.
Milan Jurcina – 3-6-9- 0- Grade B
Jurcina has been a huge surprise for the Islanders. He has been a steadying force on the blue line, and has used his size more than he has in the past. He has an absolute rocket of a shot the he definitely needs to use more, and has truly enjoyed his time on Long Island. He signed an extension for next season and should be a solid player moving forward.
Travis Hamonic – 0-8-8- -7- Grade B
Hamonic, who the Islanders envisioned spending the entire season in Bridgeport, has been a huge addition to this team. You sometimes forget he’s just a 20 year old kid back there. He has provided more size and physicality than most expected and I still believe he’ll be able to rack up some points too. Look for him to find a permanent residence on the Islanders blue line for many years to come.
Jack Hillen – 3-4-7- -8 – Grade C
Hillen, who just 2 years ago was logging big minutes for Scott Gordon, has definitely dropped down the depth chart. He started the season in the press box (benched for vets Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton), but has now worked his way back into the lineup and is doing a somewhat solid job. His offensive numbers were terrible until a recent hot streak has him a 7 points in 35 games. Either way, next season with Calvin de Haan ready to make the jump from Juniors, and returning members of this year’s D (Jurcina, MacDonald, Hamonic, Streit, Eaton and possible Wishart), Hillen will be relegated to 7th defenseman duty if not he’ll be with another organization.
Radek Martinek – 1-5-6- -7 – Grade C
Martinek’s biggest obstacle in the past has been staying healthy, and for the most part he’s done so this season. He did miss a few games with a lower body issue, but has come back and is playing about 17 minutes a night (way down from the 20+ minutes he was playing a few years ago). It’s a good bet that Martinek will be moved at the deadline. He makes no money and can still be a solid defenseman.
Zenon Konopka – 1-5-6- -9 – Grade C+
Konopka has been very good for the Islanders. He is a huge presence in the room, has lead his team to change the team’s goal song, he made sure to remind the Canadian media that the Islanders aren’t doormats anymore (unfortunately the Isles went out and were hammered by the struggling Senators that same night). ZK’s been a great faceoff guy and someone who’ll drop the gloves with anyone. He’s a guy who you love to have on your team. Hate to see his -9 which is why he gets a C+.
Trent Hunter – 1-3-4- -3 – Grade F
Hunter, who is only 30, has had a tremendous problem staying healthy the past few seasons. He’s only played 17 games so far this year, and has just 4 points. His last game played (back in November) he had 2 of those points. That means the former 25 goal scorer and Calder runner up, had just 2 points (both assists) in his first 16 games this season. Completely unacceptable for someone making $2 million a season.
Bruno Gervais – 0-4-4- -11 – Grade F
Bruno, once considered a top defense prospect of the Islanders, has had a horrible first half. He spent the first month in the press box, and since he’s come back, he has done very little on the ice. His -11 is the 2nd worst among d-men (partner Dylan Reese is a -12 as is injured Mike Mottau). Bruno is a great guy and has been a model Islander since he’s been here, but his play has shown he just isn’t an NHL defenseman.
Trevor Gillies – 1-0-1- -2 – grade B
Gillies, who usually sees about 4 minutes of ice time a night, has been exactly what the islanders need. He’s the best teammate a player could ask for, he does his job and doesn’t complain about spending 2 periods on the bench and is among the top heavy weights in the game. Gillies, is as easy a guy to talk to that exists and the Islanders should have no second thoughts about bringing him back next season.
Mark Eaton – 0-3-3- -12 – Grade D
If you want an example of a UFA signing that just hasn’t worked out….look at Eaton. Eaton, who signed a 2 year deal, played just 34 games and is out for the remainder of the season with hip surgery. When he was in the lineup, he didn’t pay poorly, though he was thrust into a bigger role than he was supposed to be when Mark Streit’s injury occurred in training camp. Needless to say, Eaton will be back next year.
Mike Mottau – 0-3-3- -12- Grade F
Here is an example of just sheer bad luck. Mottau signed a 2 year deal right before training camp began (after Streit’s injury). He went on to play 20 uninspiring games earning a -12 rating and it all ended with him getting hit in the face with a shot from the point. To boot, he suffered a tear in his hip that required season ending surgery. The grade F is more about his missing the whole season than about his play on the ice. He’ll be back next season as well.
Dylan Reese – 0-1-1 -12 – Grade F
Reese, who played very well as an injury replacement last season, has been terrible this year. He spent the first part of the season at Bridgeport, even wore an “A”, but has been a mess since returning. He has played with Bruno Gervais, which could be part of his problem, but really, a -12 on a team that most D-men are in the single digits is unacceptable, especially in 19 games played.
Jesse Joensuu – 3-1-4- -8- Grade F
Joensuu gets an F since he had a perfect chance to make his mark and stick with the Islanders and he blew it. Joensuu has always been a solid player for BST, but has been unable to solidify his game at the NHL level. His entry level agreement is up at the end of this season and I don’t expect the Islanders to re-sign him.
Rick DiPietro – 7-9-4 3.42GAA .890% – Grade C
For the first time in 2 years, DiPietro came to camp as a player and not on a rehab assignment. Getting back into the rigors of playing in goal every night in the NHL is something that takes getting used to. Rick seems to finally getting his groove back. His number are very pedestrian, but if you take out this 2 games in which the Islanders were shelled by Philly and Carolina at the beginning of “the streak” his GAA would be 3.08 and his save % would be .901. Not too shabby for someone who has spent most of the past 2 seasons hurt. With some solid goaltending prospects coming up behind him, DP needs to reestablish himself as the franchise’s number 1 goaltender.
Kevin Poulin – 2-2-1- 2.59GAA .925% Grade A
Poulin, is the Islanders number 1 goaltending prospect and soon will be one of the NHL’s top prospects too. He has wowed his coaches in Bridgeport and has been equally as impressive in the NHL. He seems extremely poised for a 20 year old and seems to get better as the game goes on. No doubt he’ll be a number 1 goaltender for someone sooner rather than later.
Nathan Lawson – 0-3-1 4.19GAA .894% Grade D-
Lawson, who had a perfect opportunity to make a name for himself, and possibly get himself a job next seasons as Rick DiPietro’s caddy, came in and hasn’t played well at all. Poulin has outplayed him, and Capuano doesn’t seem to have much confidence in him. I would expect the Isles to sign a veteran backup in the off season and Lawson will be looking for work.
Jack Capuano Grade B
Cap has done a respectable job. He seems easy going, and the players definitely respond to him. After wins, you can see him in the locker room congratulating players and you can see when he’s disappointed in a players performance. The difference between him and Gordon, is Gordon could never show weakness or a willingness to change anything, where as Capuano seems to realize his has a young team and sometimes things have to change quickly. He seems much more adept to making in game changes, where as Gordon was reluctant to do so. Either way, Capuano should be returned to BST next season to continue to work with the Islanders young players and a veteran head coach should be hired.
Management Grade B
Garth Snow took some early heat from everyone for his team starting off terrible, then firing Gordon, then the banning of popular blogger Chris Botta, with all of that, he’s still done a pretty good job so far this year. He grabbed rookie sensation Michael Grabner off waivers from the Florida Panthers, he was able to acquire a mid 2nd round pick plus an additional 5th rounder for defenseman James Wisniewski (who was a -18 at the time of the trade). He acquired a good prospect in Ty Wishart for 41 year old goaltender Dwayne Roloson, and did an excellent job handling the whole Evgeni Nabokov situation. Snow has done an great job this season, though this coming off season will be his biggest test as the Islanders will need to make significant strides next season or risk losing any leverage at all against Nassau County.
You’ll notice I left out Kyle Okposo and some other players, only because you can’t judge anything Kyle has done to this point as a plus or minus. Besides, you pretty much know what you’re going to get with Okposo.
I think it’s total BS the NHL decided that each franchise shouldn’t have a representative at the All Star Game. I don’t give a damn about the skills competition and to me that doesn’t count. If Grabner was good enough to win the faster skater, than he should have played in the game. I didn’t watch any of the festivities (the draft, the skills or the game) and I really don’t care what happened. If the NHL wants to isolate some of their franchises, then they should prepare for some areas to not give a shit.
I have 2 words for Evgeni Nabokov and they aren’t happy birthday. If you don’t want to fulfill your contract and come to Long Island fine. Here’s a guy who plays at his worst in the playoffs and he wants to go to a team that is trying to get into the playoffs? If he had any brains at all, he’d come here, play his 15-20 games the rest of the season in a pressure free environment and get a contract somewhere else next season. Whatever dude…have fun hitting the market as a 37 year old in 2012 (after your contract is tolled next season).
The Islanders recalled Ty Wishart from BST today along with Dylan Reese and Kevin Poulin, looking forward to seeing this kid out there.
Who would have thought the Islanders would be in better financial position than the Mets???….talk about weird times.
With the chances of the Islanders choosing in the top 3 this year a near certainty, the names you should be watching are Sean Courturier, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson.
Congrats to the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, they announced their new uniforms for next season today and also announced that each full season ticket holder would receive one. On top of that the jersey will be fitted with a microchip that you can scan at the concession or merchandise stands to receive your discount. What a great idea!!!!! (HINT HINT HINT HINT HINT HINT HINT)
Filed Under: NHL
About the Author: The New York Islanders have been a huge part of my life since I was 7 years old, and during the past 27 years I have experience many ups and downs with this team. The back end of 4 straight Stanley Cups, the Drive for 5, the Easter Epic, trading of my heroes John Tonelli, and Kelly Hrudey. Mike Bossy's early retirement, Pat LaFontaine for Pierre Turgeon, Dale Hunter, David Volek, Ron Hextall, Al Arbour's retirement, Bill Torrey to Florida, Mike Milbury, John Spano, The Milstein's, Hoistgate, the sale to Charles Wang, Draft Day 2000, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca, Milbury's "reassignement", 40 days of Neil Smith, Ted Nolan, The Lighthouse Project, Kate Murray, Scott Gordon, going from 5 to 7 to 9, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Calvin deHaan, El Nino, the 2 Kirill's and hopefully.....much, much more. I have been an Islanders blogger for the past 3 years, starting on Myspace, then for IslesNation.com and currently for HockeyIndependent.com, and I have been selected to the 2010-2011 New York Islanders Blog Box. I am an IT Manager for a quite large facility working for a government agency. I am married for 7 years to an incredibly patient woman and am the proud father of a beautiful 1 year old daughter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: Twitter.com/tonystabile