The New York Islanders have been bad for a very long time. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like this will be the year that it changes. The Islanders are a team that appears to be perpetually on the rebuild and they will need to continue their process this season. If their collection of youngsters can make a step in the right direction the residents of Islanders fandom will have to look on the year as a positive step.
The Islanders are a young team, with eight of their projected starters up front coming in at under 27 years of age. With the injury troubles they’ve faced in net, and the relatively strong division that they are playing in, they’ll need a number of things to go exactly right (and some things to go wrong for other teams) if they want any chance of making the playoffs. That said, as I mentioned before, a strong step forward and some hard-nosed play from their youngsters would go a long way to stabilizing the long-term future of the Islanders franchise.
Rick DiPietro, John Tavares, Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo
Obviously John Tavares is an elite-level talent, although he has yet to show his full potential. The kid has some serious skills, but for the time being is not in a situation where he has been able to really showcase that ability. Last season he was flanked by Matt Moulson for most of the year, and in Los Angeles we all know what that means. Basically, if you’re counting on Moulson to be your leading goal scorer (he was for the Islanders last season), you’re in some trouble. If the Islanders want to make any noise, they will need Moulson to repeat his feat from last season, and will need Tavares, Okposo, Josh Bailey and others to take the next step and contribute.
The biggest hit is the injury to Mark Streit. Streit is probably the most productive defenseman on the squad, and he looks like he’ll be out for a while. Unfortunately a squad that was the 3rd worst defense in the league last year doesn’t look like it is going to be a heck of a lot better. Sure, they added a few role players on defense, Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina, and James Wisniewski, but they’re probably not going to be quite enough to raise the squad to a top-level defensive team. The one thing that could seriously help is a healthy DiPietro. Unfortunately recent events make it seem that the Islanders won’t see a healthy DiPietro for another dozen seasons, when he eventually retires and fades into the sunset.
Bad news for Islanders fans – it’s going to be a rough year. I don’t see them performing better than… well… last in the division. They’ll be behind the Flyers and the Penguins (even if the Flyers take a step backwards), and won’t be able to hang with the Devils either. There may be a question if they can surpass the Rangers, but I wouldn’t wager much (any) money on that fact. A healthy DiPietro would make a difference, but either way, the Islanders are destined for a lottery pick.
Tags: James Wisniewski John Tavares Kyle Okposo Los Angeles Kings Mark Eaton Mark Streit Matt Moulson Milan Jurcina New Jersey Devils New York Islanders New York Rangers Philadelphia Flyers Pittsburgh Penguins Rick DiPietro