Aug
27

Checking in on the New York Islanders

August 27, 2014, by

Jaroslav Halak is a major upgrade in goal for the Isles

Last year: 34-37-11, eighth in the Metro Division. Missed the postseason by 14 points.

Key additions: Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Cory Conacher, Chad Johnson, T.J. Brennan

Key subtractions: Evgeni Nabokov, Radek Martinek (likely)

Franchise direction: The Islanders’ rebuild has been very slow, but it really does look like things are starting to change. The additions of Halak, Grabovski and Kulemin were major pieces and the Islanders clearly are hoping to make a splash when they begin play at the Barclays Center in 2015-2016. New York needs several of its prospects to fulfill their promise in order to become a perennial playoff team, but they certainly have the talent to make that a reality over the next couple seasons.

Salary cap: Despite having a host of extra forwards, the Islanders still possess over $10 million in cap space. This hasn’t typically been a cap-ceiling team, but that could change in a hurry when the franchise moves to Brooklyn. The Islanders have John Tavares under contract at a bargain $5.5 million cap hit for four more seasons, giving them a ton of flexibility. In fact, virtually all of New York’s proven players are signed for at least two more seasons. After next year, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Cory Conacher, Matt Donovan, Thomas Hickey and T.J. Brennan will be restricted free agents, but none figure to have particularly strong bargaining power. UFAs Lubomir Visnovsky, Matt Carkner, Eric Boulton and Colin McDonald will surely not be retained as the Islanders open slots for their prospects.

Prospect pipeline: The Islanders began to integrate some of their forward prospects last season, starting with Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Johan Sundstrom, and Anders Lee.  Those four will have to battle up the depth chart following the additions of Grabovski and Kulemin. The next major addition to the big club will likely be 2013 first-round pick Griffin Reinhart, who could make an immediate impact on the blueline. Finnish defenseman Ville Pokka could do the same. Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech comprise the rest of New York’s strong defensive depth. Up front, Sebastian Collberg, acquired for Thomas Vanek, could become a scorer, while 2014 draft picks Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Del Colle are still a ways away.

Projection: There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Islanders this offseason, and for good reason. Unfortunately, New York plays in the tricky Metro Division, where as many as seven teams have legitimate playoff aspirations. The Islanders won’t be left in the dust this season, but it may be tricky for them to leapfrog three or four teams to snag a wild card.

Other Metro Division offseason recaps: FlyersDevilsBlue JacketsPenguins, Capitals, Hurricanes

4 comments

  1. Leatherneckinlv says:

    The Islanders vastly have improved. A healthy Islanders Organization is welcome to rejuvenate the rivalry. At one time this was the best rivalry in all of sports. Passion and meaningful games are welcome by me. I would love to see the Islanders do well. They will get better and better which is good news for the NHL.
    I still think the best line in Hockey was the famed Gillies, Trottier and Bossy line. That line had everything. Gillies changed the goon role to the Power Forward role. I recall when Chris Kotstopulous fought Gillies in a game and fared very well against him and how us Ranger fans were finally relieved that we had a player who could put him in check. Those are the small things that are so huge that stats can never describe.
    Think about it, some 35 years later the ” Potvin _____!!!!” still is heard at MSG. Some fans who chant it were not even born yet. That is how powerful this rivalry is even in it’s not so passionate days. I still mark my calender for the days the Rangers are going to play the Islanders. There have been some great games since but the sad news is none have been meaningful since the 93-94 playoff year.
    I as a huge Ranger fan welcome back a healthy and dangerous Islanders team. I hope they can achieve it sooner rather than later. The last few games left at Nassau Colosseum will hopefully be very entertaining. Once they move to Brooklyn I hope that we can fondly remember all those years we watched these two teams play against each other and that the Brooklyn team can still be the hated Islanders of yesteryear

    • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

      True 94 was the last time the NYR played the NYI in the playoffs. However, that series was not only a 4 game sweep but a blowout. If I remember correctly the NYI were shutout games 1 & 2. They didn’t score a goal until the 3rd game. I could be wrong about that but it was a quick brush aside by the steamroller that was the 94′ NYR.

      Halak will certainly win some games for the Islanders but their biggest acquisitions were that of ex-teammates Grabovski & Kulemin. Both will be on the NHL roster and remove the islanders need to fill the roster with unproven rookies. Strome is gonna be a great player if he follows the path he’s been on in the minors and juniors. Those two players give the NYI some room to make a trade for a veteran defenseman. I think their Blueline is now their biggest weakness on the defensive side. I still think the Rangers are the superior team. On paper and on the ice. As long as the Rangers get better offensively this season, they won’t have any trouble with beating the Islanders. They’re still one more year away from true contention. A year for the young players to develop and the new players to settle into their new roles.

  2. Dave says:

    The Isles scare me a lot. Halak alone gives them about 10-15 extra points in the standings. That’s how big of an upgrade he is over Nabokov. I think they take over Philly’s spot in the playoffs.

    • Seahorse says:

      i agree. i think last year was one of those half setbacks in their rise up. they still need to find a winger to replace matt moulson though. vanek broke the trend of put anyone with tavares and he will score 30 goals