Assessing the Islanders’ situation for the upcoming Expansion Draft

During the NHL offseason, the main focus of the Islanders has been to lockup star forward John Tavares. But, with the expansion draft coming up on June 21st, with the NHL adding a team to Las Vegas, the Islanders can go one of two ways in protecting players who can’t be claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights. Teams have until June 17th to protect players. According to nhl.com, teams can either protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goaltender, or 8 skaters (forwards or defensemen), and 1 goaltender. To see the complete rules of the expansion draft in detail, check them out on nhl.com. After players are protected, Vegas is allowed to select one player from each team who is not protected, and that’s how they will form their team. For argument’s sake, let’s take a look at the two options and project how the Islanders’ list may pan out.

If the Islanders go with the 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goaltender method, here’s how that list may look:

7 Forwards:

  1. John Tavares
  2. Andrew Ladd
  3. Anders Lee
  4. Josh Bailey
  5. Brock Nelson
  6. Ryan Strome
  7. Casey Cizikas

3 Defensemen:

  1. Nick Leddy
  2. Johnny Boychuk
  3. Ryan Pulock

1 Goaltender:

  1. Thomas Greiss

3 Players the Vegas Golden Knights should consider taking under this method:

  1. Travis Hamonic (D)
  2. Thomas Hickey (D)
  3. Calvin de Haan (D)

If the Islanders decide to protect 8 total skaters and 1 goaltender, here’s how that list may look: 

8 Skaters:

  1. John Tavares (F)
  2. Andrew Ladd (F)
  3. Anders Lee (F)
  4. Brock Nelson (F)
  5. Nick Leddy (D)
  6. Johnny Boychuk (D)
  7. Travis Hamonic (D)
  8. Ryan Pulock (D)

1 Goaltender:

  1. Thomas Greiss

3 Players the Vegas Golden Knights should consider taking under this method:

  1. Ryan Strome (F)
  2. Josh Bailey (F)
  3. Calvin de Haan (D)

Now it will be interesting to see which method of protecting players the Islanders choose, and they will be faced with some tough options. If the Islanders go with the 7F, 3D, 1G method, chances are they would lose either Travis Hamonic or Ryan Pulock, each who would probably battle for that third defensemen spot behind Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk. But, if the Islanders go with the 8 skaters and 1 goaltender method, they will be able to protect Hamonic and Pulock, but will need to decide who their 4th forward to protect will be if they only want to lock up 4. It could end up being between Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, and Josh Bailey. So, no matter which method the Islanders choose, they most likely will lose an important player. But, this is the cost of expansion in sports, and the Islanders will pay the price. The Vegas Golden Knights will most likely gain a solid, well established NHL player from the Islanders.

Let us know what your think in the comments below! And remember if you enjoyed this post hit that like button or give us a share!

 

Q&A with Mike

This is the first Q&A Mike has conducted, in which people from Twitter and Instagram submitted questions regarding the Mets, Jets, and Islanders. Here are the questions, followed by Mike’s answer to the best of his ability.

Twitter Questions:

@drewbykov39: If you were the Mets, what would you trade for and what position would enhance the team? Same question for the Isles.

Mike: While the Mets season is very young and there is still a lot of baseball to be played, to me it’s clear this Met team is missing a player who hits for average, and also has speed. I think the hope for Jose Reyes would fill this role, as he played very well in 2016, but has struggled thus far in 2017. The team has a bunch of big time home run hitters including Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, and Lucas Duda. They need some guys who can get on base, to set up these home run hitters. Two guys I like are Dee Gordon at 2nd base and Joey Votto at 1st base. While both are unlikely to ever be traded to the Mets whether it’s an expensive contract from Votto or playing on an inner division team in Gordon, these two players could make an immediate impact in their own ways, and most importantly, they both get on base. But, it’s hard to tell through just a few weeks who are buyers and who sellers in the MLB. As for the Islanders, I don’t expect any blockbuster trades, but the Islanders in my opinion could still use a goalie, maybe Ben Bishop, who is an unrestricted free agent, or a veteran forward who can score goals alongside John Tavares in Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane.

@GingerCMP: Is it definite that the Isles are moving from Barclays after next season?

Mike: There’s been so many different reports about where the Islanders will end up playing whether it’s near Citi Field, by Belmont, in Hartford, or a return to the New Coliseum, but I think it still seems logical to return to the Coliseum. The Islanders fan base is generally located in Long Island, and they just renovated the venue. Reports say seating is a problem, but it seems the Islanders are the ones that don’t want to return, not the county. So, I do expect the Islanders to be out of Barclays after next season, but it’s very hard to tell. I also think it makes the most sense for them to return to the Coliseum, but it sounds like a new stadium in Belmont is not an exaggeration. For now, all we can do is watch… and for me, commute to Brooklyn to watch a hockey game instead of a 20 minute drive.

Instagram Questions:

@mmconner333: Do you think the Mets will win the World Series?

Mike: To be honest, I do think the Mets have a legitimate shot at winning the World Series this year, and that is because I think they’re built for the postseason. With a dominant, young pitching staff that looks as good as they ever have, the sky is the limit for this team. But, they need to manufacture runs in other ways than just home runs. Maybe that means acquiring another contact bat, but I’m not going to write off the offense yet. The season is young, and let’s see where we are in May and June. A positive with the Mets’ home run hitting is that they are never out of any game because they can march right back in a game quick. But, when the home runs go cold, the offense is in trouble, and we’re seeing that during their current four game losing streak. While people are down on the Mets right now, yes I do think they are going to win the World Series. In a playoff series with their starting pitching depth, they can beat anyone.

@bhenriksen17: Is Johnny T (John Tavares) wasting his career as an Islander or is next year the year they finally decide to put some pieces around him?

Mike: You make a valid point with this question, as John Tavares has been with the Islanders for quite sometime now, and they have not shown any consistency and have only made it to the playoffs 3 times in his 8 seasons with the team. I think this team needs to show John Tavares they are committed to winning, and quickly because he’s obviously a free agent at the end of the season. But, put yourself in John Tavares’ shoes. Why stay with this franchise and maybe make it to the playoffs once every three years? Especially when the team located near his hometown is surprising the NHL universe and giving the top seeded Washington Capitals a series in the Toronto Maple Leafs. If I’m Tavares, that’s a very appealing landing spot with their young talent, and the possibility of more playoff success than the Islanders when it’s time for his decision. But, loyalty may be something I could see Tavares considering. This team drafted him, and it’s where he made his name. So, they need to get a veteran goal scorer to play alongside Tavares this year, and make a DEEP playoff run during the 2017-18 season, or Tavares may walk out. It’s on the Islanders, but I also don’t know what Tavares is thinking. So, yes, this should be the year the Islanders make a push to get some skilled players alongside Tavares, if not, everyone should be fired. The Islanders need to show Tavares they want to win. I think it’s in the best interest of the Islanders to get a deal done before he even hits free agency, but Tavares may want to test his options. It’s on the Islanders to make it happen.

@angelooneill: Would love to know what your first moves would be for the Islanders now that the season’s over and they missed the playoffs.

Mike: The Islanders top priority should be assuring they will have John Tavares for longer than the 2017-18 season. It’s on upper management to bring in a goal scorer, as I said earlier, maybe trade for someone like Evander Kane. I also think it would be worth it to bring in goalie Ben Bishop, and then trade either Thomas Greiss or Jaroslav Halak. Making these moves should give this team a chance to win games. I think they’re close to being capable of making a deep run in the playoffs, as some guys stepped up at the end of the 2016-17 season. We can’t be too negative, as the team missed the playoffs by just 1 point. The Islanders need to show John Tavares they want to win. The Islanders would win the offseason if Tavares has a contract extension before the regular season even starts. If that happens, I’m sure many Islander fans would be happy and feel they won the offseason.

@anthonypiparo: Do you think Mikhail Grabovski’s career is over?

Mike: Grabovski is still under contract with the Islanders next season, but he has still had issues with his concussions, as he did not appear in any games during the 2016-17 season. At age 33, he needs to consider the dangers of returning as concussions are very serious as we all know. I think it’d be nice to have him back, but it seems like there’s not much news about him. Did any Islanders reporters or the broadcasts even mention him? Maybe he needed a year off, but I can’t really determine whether his career is over. It might be the smartest decision, but that’s up to Grabovski, who could really help the Islanders with his speed and his ability to work well with former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Nikolay Kulemin.

@coviefitness_88: Who was the best Mets killer on the Phillies?

Mike: Boy, there’s so many Mets killers, particularly one’s from the Phillies. From what I’ve seen, Pat Burrell always had the Mets’ number, as well as Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley. It always seemed like those guys would come up in the big spots late in games, and deliver. All that mattered was that they were playing the Mets. If you want, check out a piece I wrote last year titled The All Time Mets Killers Team. There’s 4 Phillies on that lineup.

Anonymous Questions:

Why is Todd Bowles still (the Jets) head coach?

Mike: Todd Bowles is still the Jets head coach for various reasons, but 1 major reason is that it’s only his 2nd year. Yes, the team took huge steps backward during the 2016 season after a 10 win season in 2015, but he deserves at least another year. It’s not like he had a team full of superstars. His team was full a veterans whose best years were behind them, and didn’t seem to care once the team fell to 1-5. One thing to look at and question is if Todd Bowles has lost the locker room. We had guys showing up late to meetings, missed tackles, and missed blocks last year, which made many question if it was time for Bowles to go. While it wouldn’t have been outrageous to fire him or shocking, I still think he deserves more time. For the Todd Bowles haters, he has a team now that quite frankly does not look like they’re going to be very good, so if he wins 5 games this year, it could very well be a success. Given their roster, how can you fairly fire him after the upcoming season? I predict they will let him play out the final 2 years of his contract, but if this team plays lazy and careless during the season, he could very well be fired. I think the Jets have more roster issues than coaching issues. They see Todd Bowles won 10 games with Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback, so my guess is that’s why he’s still here. But, it’s clear he might be on the hot seat.

What do you think the Isles have to do to convince (John) Tavares to sign long term?

Mike: The Islanders need to show John Tavares they want to win now, and have Stanley Cup aspirations led by him. That being said, he needs help, and the team needs some forwards that can score goals, as well as more consistent goaltending. They also need an arena to play in, because right now we don’t know where they’re playing in the near future. Why would Tavares want to play for a team that’s going to be on the move, and have possibly a third home arena during his tenure with the team. So, if this team somehow finds their way back at the Coliseum, and picks ups some pieces that leads to a deep playoff run, then it would seem logical for John Tavares to resign with the team. But, given the situation right now, can you blame him if he leaves?

If you had to pick one, replay option or computer generated strike zone and calls, which would you prefer?

Mike: The idea of a computer deciding a baseball game scares me. I don’t mind replay in baseball, but the system needs some improvements, especially enforcing time limits on how long the manager has to decide to challenge. I like the idea of getting calls right, but it needs to be sped up. If the call is too hard to determine, the call on the field should stand. This process shouldn’t take more than a minute or 2. As for computer generated strike zones, it takes away work for many umpires, and I’d worry of a malfunction in the strike zone. How long would it take for a team to rig the strike zone? Yes, technology is great, but I think we should stick to human umpires, while improving video replay. Plus, with no umpires, who would players and fans blame when they lose?

Who is your favorite Mets player? 

Mike: I’ve always liked Steven Matz of course because he’s from Long Island, but unfortunately he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. My favorite position player is Michael Conforto, as I love the way he hits, especially when he takes the ball to opposite field. I’m also a big Jacob deGrom fan, as I still stand by my opinion that he currently is the best pitcher on the Mets’ staff. So, these 3 guys are definitely my favorite Mets.

 

 

Positives and negatives to take away from the 2016-17 Islanders season

Via Getty Images

During the 2016-17 season, the Islanders fell just short of the playoffs. In a year full of ups and downs, here’s some positives and negatives to take away from the season that many Islander fans will most likely forget about as time goes on.

Positives

1. Anders Lee

Anders Lee has turned into quite the player this season after a slow start, proving to be an elite goal scorer. During the 2016-17 season, Lee led the team in goals with 34 and totaled 52 points. Fans were looking for John Tavares to find another lineman that can score some goals, and that very well could be Anders Lee. After taking a few steps back last season, Lee has rebounded this season and has been the Islanders best goal scorer. Islanders fans have reason to be excited about Anders Lee.

2. Coach Doug Weight

Since taking over as Islanders head coach in mid January when Jack Capuano was fired, Doug Weight completely turned this team around. Taking over when the team was in last place in the Metropolitan division, Weight pulled this team within striking distance of the final Wild Card spot, but the team fell just short. Under Doug Weight, the Islanders were 24-12-4, and proved to play with a lot more effort and heart. They had a much more offensive mindset, and also blew less third period leads. Doug Weight absolutely deserves to receive an extension as head coach of the New York Islanders. That is, if he wants to return.

3. Young Talent

Two young players that stand out on this Islanders roster and were key contributors down the stretch as the team battled for the final Wild Card spot are forwards Josh Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier. Ho-Sang was called up late in the season, and showed signs that he is here to stay. He appeared in 21 games, netting 4 goals and 6 assists, and showed the ability to be a major playmaker. Islanders fans should be excited for Josh Ho-Sang next season, as he could be a major help to John Tavares. At just age 21, he has a lot to learn, but Islanders fans have reason for excitement with Ho-Sang. Beauvillier also showed signs that he is here to stay, appearing in 66 games, with 9 goals and 15 assists. At just 19 years old, Beauvillier fits the style of play today, with really good speed, and uses his speed to make plays. Islanders fans should be very excited about these 2 players, as they had solid chemistry together towards the end of the season.

4. 94 Points

Fans look were very frustrated with this team for most of the season, as they spent much of the year towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. However, the team did finish with 94 points, and they fell just a few points short of making the playoffs. At one point during the season, it looked as though the team would be lucky to finish with 80 points. But, this team showed they care, and wanted to make the playoffs. If it wasn’t for a sloppy start early, this team would be in the playoffs. Lets be honest, they had to play near perfect hockey since Doug Weight took over, and they fell just short. Maybe, by not making the playoffs, upper management will wake up, and maybe the Islanders will be big spenders this offseason.

5. Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera

The Islanders signed these two veterans in hopes that they would be good replacements for three of their core players from a year ago; Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielson, and Matt Martin. While they started off slow, Ladd and Chimera had solid seasons. Ladd finished the season with over 20 goals, while Chimera had 20 goals himself. Both have had great NHL careers, and it took them getting used to the system, but they proved to fit in just right. Both are under contract for next season, and if this team can find their way back to the playoffs, they both will be key contributors. They had big shoes to fill, and they did a pretty solid job for the Islanders. Both proved to be solid goal scorers, which is something a team always needs.

Negatives

1. No playoffs

There’s no sugar coating in the fact that the Islanders clearly took some major steps back in the 2016-17 season, after winning a playoff series last year for the first time in quite some time. The team put themselves in a major hole, and they could not quite find their way out of it. Fans have reason for concern, as who knows if this team will continue to move backwards after a major rebuild over a long period of time. After winning a playoff series, the hope was this team would make a deep run in the playoffs. The 2016-17 season in many ways was a failure, and this team has a lot of work to do this offseason. They have to be better.

2. Goalie Situation

When was the last time the Islanders had a really good goalie? It’s been awhile, and it’s holding them back right now. Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have their moments, but they’re both very inconsistent. They’ll have back to back shutouts, but then they’ll have a game where they can’t buy a save, and let up 4-5 goals, not giving the team much of a chance. How many times did Thomas Greiss get pulled this season? But, much of the goalie situation blame has to go to Garth Snow. For whatever reason, the team thinks the 3 goalie system is a good idea. Well, it failed this season. It wasn’t fair to any of the goalies. They sent Halak down to the minors, and that left JF Berube as the backup to Greiss. It seemed like Greiss never got to rest until he had a bad game, hurting his confidence. Halak should have been called up much sooner, as he would’ve been a solid backup goalie that could win them a game when Greiss needed a rest. But, the team waited much to long, as Thomas Greiss was burnt out, and Halak finished the season playing great hockey. Both these goalies give the Islanders a chance to win, but they also have games where they are just awful. The goalie situation was a major failure this season. If there was no 3 goalie system, this team could be in the playoffs.

3. John Tavares has 1 year left

The 2016-17 season ended, and the Islanders’ franchise player only has one year left on his current deal. The team will go as far as John Tavares goes, but they cannot lose him to free agency after the 2017-18 season. They need to lock him up as soon as possible, preferably this offseason. But, does Tavares want to stay? This team has only won one playoff series with Tavares, and they haven’t shown a commitment to winning games. Tavares has been here through the good and the bad, and has always been a quiet guy who just goes about his business. He doesn’t seem like the guy to leave the team that drafted him, but it’s on the Islanders’ upper management to show him they want to win a Stanley Cup. If Tavares signs elsewhere, this team is in major trouble, and fans will be calling for everyone to be fired (if they aren’t already). All we can do is watch, and enjoy at least the final season the team has with him.

4. Defensemen

This season, the Islanders really only had 2 consistent defensemen in Nick Leddy and when he was healthy, Johnny Boychuk. Other than these 2, the Islanders had some holes on the defensive side. Thomas Hickey had a interesting year, as he ended the season playing forward. He looked pretty good there, and maybe playing with 7 defensemen will be part of Doug Weight’s plan in the future. After looking like the Islanders’ best defensemen at times in prior seasons, Travis Hamonic had a rough season. Over the past few years, he has been plagued with injuries, which had definitely slowed him down. There was also major concern as to why the team didn’t have Ryan Pulock with them for most of the season. A defensemen who could provide some offense is something this team could use, yet he appeared in just 1 game, after playing in 15 last season. Are we missing something? He better be on the NHL roster next season, as he had shown signs of being an effective player, and even appeared in some playoff games last year.

5. Matt Martin

While everyone seemed upset the team didn’t resign Kyle Okposo and Fans Nielson, an even bigger player they missed was Matt Martin. Martin didn’t wow you statistically, but he did the little things, and was apart of the best 4th line in hockey alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas. Clutterbuck and Cizikas did not look like the same players after getting extensions, and that can be partly blamed to missing Matt Martin. These 3 had great chemistry, and they were known for grinding it out with physical play. They fed off of each other, and once they lost Martin, they did not look the same on the ice. The Islanders actually had something going here, and they lost it. This line was able to set the tone in the past, but it’s gone because Matt Martin is no longer an Islander.

The 2016-17 season was a tough year for the Islanders. They had their moments, but were in too deep of a hole to pull themselves out. To say the team had a terrible year isn’t fair, as they fell just short of the playoffs. But, there should be concern as the team took some big steps back this season. The team has some holes to fill, but they are capable of being a playoff team next season. This is a huge offseason for the Islanders, and it will show us if the Islanders are heading north or south. The team was rebuilding for a while. They started to find some consistency, but that was not the case this year.

All stats vis nhl-reference

 

Mike’s Current Ranking of All 8 New York Sports Teams

New York sports have some pretty solid teams, but also some pretty bad teams. Here, Mike ranks each of the 8 New York teams from worst to best.

8. Brooklyn Nets

A Brooklyn Nets fan does not have much hope. As they currently sit last in the NBA, they’d almost be guaranteed a top 5 pick in a very strong NBA draft. However, that draft pick will be going to the Boston Celtics, involved in a trade the two teams made several years ago. The team can’t rebuild with a top 5 draft pick, and I don’t see them attracting many free agents. The Nets could very well be a bad team for sometime, which is why I rank them the worst team in New York.

7. New York Jets

After finishing the 2015 season in second place in the AFC East, the hope was the team would make the playoffs in 2016. Well, that didn’t happen, as they finished the season in last place in the AFC East, and now sit with the 6th overall pick in the NFL draft. The team is full of question marks. A major one is who the team’s quarterback will be for 2017. Is it a rookie they will find in the draft, a current free agent, or someone on their roster? The team is old, and they are looking to get young. In 2016, not only was the offense abysmal, the defense struggled as well. The team has a lot of holes, and this is a huge offseason for the Jets. In the NFL, teams generally don’t accept a total rebuild, but the Jets might have to consider that. They are full of older players who want to win now, but winning does not appear to be in the horizon, which is why I put the Jets at 7 on this list.

6. New York Knicks 

Some looked at the Knicks going into the 2016-17 season and thought they would be a playoff team. Well, that looks unlikely as they sit towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have been a mess for quite sometime now, but I thought they were turning the corner when they found success when they acquired Carmelo Anthony. They need to rebuild, but instead they continue to bring in players, paying them for what they did in the past, not what they will do with the Knicks. Knicks fans are losing patience, and this team looked like they would be better this year. They have a young star in Kristaps Porzingis, so they need to build around him by making the right decisions in the draft. Then they will be able to attract some big name free agents. Fans can only hope they start to improve, but right now they are a bad team, which is why they sit at number 6 on this list.

5. New York Yankees

The best run franchise in New York is at a stage where they are rebuilding. They have numerous talented, young prospects, and a potential star in Gary Sanchez. But, at this point the Yankees are looking toward the future. At the same time, they could be pretty competitive in 2017, as they were in 2016. But, I think this team is going to have some losing season’s ahead of them. They have some holes, especially in their pitching staff. But, at anytime they could make a big splash in free agency. For now, I look at them as the middle of the pack team in the MLB, which is why I have them at number 5 out of all the New York teams.

4. New York Islanders

About a month ago, the Islanders were in last place. However, they have climbed their way back into the playoff mix, and are currently sitting with the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Over the past few seasons, the Islanders have had decent success. They also have arguably the best current athlete in New York in John Tavares. With a team that is still pretty young, as long as they have John Tavares they could have a bright future. Fans are still waiting for the team to make a deep playoff run. They have proven they are able to make the playoffs, but they have not proven to be a dominant team in the NHL. For now, they sit at number 4 on this list, with potential to be the best in New York. That is, if John Tavares stays with the Islanders if he hits free agency.

3. New York Giants

The Giants made it to the playoffs in 2016, and had one of the best defenses in the NFL. They also have one of the best football players on the planet in Odell Beckham Jr. Even though Eli Manning had a mediocre campaign in 2016, fans still know what he is capable of. With Super Bowl aspirations, the 2017 season will be a big one for this team to make a run in the playoffs. Eli Manning is not getting any younger, but he has a great defense and some solid playmakers on offense. With very little holes on this team, the Giants stand at number 3, and they are in a situation where the hopes are for sustained success for the future. Only time will tell.

2. New York Rangers

The Rangers have made it to the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 seasons. Every year, they are relevant and if you are a fan, you can’t complain about that. While they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1994, they continue to have good chances at winning another. This year, they are a very fast team with a solid offense. Henrik Lundqvist is not getting any younger, and you bet they want to win a Stanley Cup with him. They currently sit in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division, and have been playing well of late. Just when you think this team is starting to decline, they prove everyone wrong. I give the franchise credit for making it to the playoffs so consistently. They’ve chocked in the playoffs a few times being a pretty high seed, but maybe they need a year like this where they are not the top dog. With the consistency this team has shown, and how they appear to be headed to the playoffs again, they are very worthy of number 2 on this list.

1. New York Mets

In 2015, the Mets hit the MLB by storm, winning the National League Pennant. With a dominant, young pitching staff, they had World Series hopes in 2016. However, injuries held them back, but they still managed to make it to the Wild Card game, with many key players going down that season including  Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey. Going into 2017, the team has so much depth all across the board. If their pitching stays healthy, this team could make a deep run in the playoffs. They also have a lot of depth in their offense. With a long baseball season ahead, players get hurt, so it’s good to have a team with so much depth. While the team does have some question marks, they still are favored to battle right with the Washington Nationals for the NL East title. The sky is the limit for this team, and they have the potential to be the best Mets dynasty of all time. For now, they are looking like they could be a force in 2017, which is why I rank them the best team currently in New York.