As the 2011-2012 season quickly approaches, I will do an in depth season preview of each team in the Atlantic Divison. Today we take a look at an up and coming hockey club, the New York Islanders.
The New York Islanders finished the 2010-2011 campaign with a medicre 73 points, ahead of only the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference.
However their were a few silver linings in such a dreadful season.
John Tavares avoided the infamous sophmore slump, putting up an impressive 67 points in 79 games.
Tavares was the Islanders first overall selection back in 2009, and is surely living up to expectations.
When the Islanders picked up Michael Grabner off waivers from the Florida Panthers in October, they were expecting a player who could score a timely goal here and there.
Boy did they end up getting lucky. Grabner ended up leading the Isles in goals with 34 and was in the hunt for Rookie of the Year honors all season, but ended up losing to Jeff Skinner.
At the draft, the Islanders made Ryan Strome their fifth overall selection. Strome is a Youtube sensation, known for his slick, and smooth hands. Let's hope he doesn't turn into a former first round draft pick, Rob Schremp.
Unlikely, yes, because Strome has skill in a lot of areas, but I guess anything is possible, right?
The Island was very quiet in the offseason, as they always are, due to money restraints. Garth Snow focused on getting his young guys long term contracts, which he was quite successful in doing.
The most critical news came off ice for the Islanders. Voters rejected an Arena Referendum on August 2nd. This basically means the Islanders will depart Long Island, once their lease is over with the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Islanders did make headline news when they struck a deal with the New Jersey Devils, sending Trent Hunter to Newark for veteran Brian Rolston.
Possibly being relied on more on the Island, can help rejuvenate a career in much need of rejuvenation.
However I see Rolston as a guy who will step up in the locker room and mentor the young Islanders, as the 38 year old winger has seen it all in his lengthy career. Expect an average 15-20 goals from the winger.
Perhaps the biggest move, or non move, is the return of former all-star defenseman, Mark Streit. Streit missed the entire 2010-2011 season, leaving a large whole on the Islanders blue line.
Streit is a quality defenseman, who can put up a lot of points for a team that needs more point production from their D corps.
The Islanders hope to be a little bit more stable in net. Last season they went through an absurd amount of six goalies.
This year we expect a different story, as Rick DiPietro is expected to start the season. Hopefully he becomes more careful when dealing with his injury. If you've injury prone, don't get into goalie fight with a guy quite bigger in frame then you. Not the intelligent thing to do, Ricky.
Evgeni Nabokov is expecting to report to training camp for the Islanders after avoiding them last year after they picked him up off waivers.
A DiPietro, Nabokov goaltending duo has the potential to be quite good IF the former can stay healthy.
The New York Islanders will be in the hunt for the playoffs this year. Will they qualify? Probably not. They play in arguably the toughest division in all of sports, the Atlantic Division. They do have the offensive depth, however their defense is lacking a proven defenseman besides for Streit. Give it a couple more years for the Islanders rebuild. Their almost there, Islanders Faithful.