New York Islanders:
Last season – 5th in the Eastern Conference
The Islanders won their first playoffs-series in a long time last season. This year they have one isn’t quite sure what to expect as they sort of had an identity crisis in the offseason, losing several important players, but added some replacements and youths.
GM – Garth Snow
In the beginning Snow a lot of praise for how he started the turnaround as the GM of the Islanders. Now in his 10th(!) year, he was seen his share of criticism, but the last few years have done a lot of good things with improving this roster.
The challenge for him this year is replacing the players and identity lost, while improving the rest of the team at the same time. Look for the Isles to compete for a playoffs-spot, but don’t be surprised if they miss it in a very strong division.
Head Coach – Jack Capuano
Head coach Jack Capuano who’s entering his 7th season with the team, has received his fair share of criticism during the last three years. However, he’s doing a fairly good job with what he’s got. The Isles lost a lot of identity this summer, and Capuano will have a tough task to get the fans on his side if they fall of the big teams early on.
Which in a sense, isn’t quite fair, but then again, that’s professional life for you. Last season he got them back into the playoffs again and they won their first series in 20 years.
Andrew Ladd (LW), P.A. Parenteau (RW), Jason Chimera (LW), Mathew Barzal (C), Dennis Seidenberg (D),
95th overall pick 2016 (Anatoli Golyshev, F), 120th overall pick 2016 (Otto Koivula, F)
Kyle Okposo (RW), Frans Nielsen (C), Matt Martin (LW), P.A. Parenteau, Brian Strait (D), Taylor Beck (LW),
110th overall pick 2016 (Lucas Carlsson, D), 4th round pick 2017, 6th round pick 2017
The Islanders have done many right things this offseason, after losing some key pieces in Kyle Okposo (RW), Frans Nielsen (C) and Matt Martin (LW). That’s a top scoring winger, a solid 2nd line center and the top 4th line winger in the league. The replacements are of similar quality, but different hockey players, and they haven’t replaced the center spot.
They hope that Ryan Strome can fill in and make that spot his, as they re-signed him to a new two-year deal. So, your best bet is that the Islanders are going to look different, and possibly not as good as last year. They have re-signed one of the best 4th line centers in Cizikas to a long-term contract, which might be the most important signing this offseason.
Lastly, the Isles have added Dennis Seidenberg as a depth guy on the blueline. And then they waived Parenteau again and lost him on waivers to the Devils. Thanks neighbor!
Goaltending – 8/10
Islanders goaltending situation is good. They got a starting goalie who when hot is among the greatest in the league, and they have a solid backup. The question is, which goalie do we get to see? The one making solid choices or the one who can’t find his rhythm.
I think we’ll see more of the first one, and the Islanders won’t miss the playoffs because of poor goaltending, but possibly because the many chances and lack of scoring support.
Defense – 7/10
The defense got a lot of praise last season for performing very well throughout the year. This isn’t a group with any stars by any means, but just an overall solid gang that works well together. They could have been a little bit better in even strength and could have seen some more offensive contributions.
Leddy – Hamonic
De Haan – Boychuk
Hickey – Seidenberg
Forwards – 7/10
Youth and experience has been added to this group of forwards. Which is something they needed, as they will have to see more contributions from their overall depth if they are interested in getting back into the playoffs this season.
They lost more than a 115 points in Okposo and Nielsen, which they have to get back through Ladd and more depth scoring. Look for Nelson to have another strong scoring season, but Lee and Bailey need to provide more support. There are too many uncertainties to give them a better grade here. They will still be fun to watch though.
Ladd – Tavares – Chimera
Nelson – R. Strome – J. Bailey
Lee – Barzal – Grabovski
Kulemin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
Prince – Quine – Beauvillier
Team Composition – 7/10
Their goalies are good, sometimes great, a few times bad. Their defense looks solid, but could not spectacular by any means. They got a great 1st line and a possible great 4th line offensively. Their middle six are question marks, it could be great, could be good or could be mediocre.
Leadership presence – 7/10
Tavares, Boychuk, Chimera, Ladd, Halak. There is leadership in this group, but most of them still haven’t seen a lot of success. They addition of Ladd is huge for the Islanders, but it could have been better.
Skill Value – 7/10
The obvious ones in Tavares, Ladd, Nelson offensively. The potential additions of Barzal, Beauvillier makes this a more interesting group. The possibility of adding Ho-sang down the line, makes this intriguing, but for sure a bit unproven. But, do they have enough at the moment? Possibly not.