Should fans be concerned about the Islanders retaining John Tavares?

The pressure is on the Islanders front office to lock up superstar John Tavares, who has 1 year left on his current deal. Tavares has found a lot of success with the Islanders, but the team has yet to make the next step during his tenure and make a deep playoff run. With rumors that Tavares is looking to sign with a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, with a lot of young stars, fans have reason to be concerned. If Tavares leaves the Islanders, the team that seems to always be rebuilding will take major steps back, and they pretty much would have to start over if they lose the former number 1 overall pick.

But, can one really blame John Tavares if he signs elsewhere after the 2017-18 season? He’s been with the Islanders since 2009, and the team has won just 1 playoff series during that span. But, the blame can’t be put on him, as he does it all on the ice. During his tenure, the team has never had a stable goalie, and has been in search of that all star linemate to work alongside him.

To add to the team’s subpar personnel during his tenure, the franchise is also currently unsure of where the team’s home games will be played in the future. Rumors fly out that the Islanders and Barclays Center will eventually opt out of their deal. If that eventually happens, then where would the team play? A return to Nassau Coliseum, where majority of the fans want the team to return to? Or a place in Belmont, a rumor that continues to emerge? A last resort would be a place in Hartford, which would be tough for fans to see, especially with a bulk of the fanbase living on Long Island. Whether these rumors are true or not, they still have to be discouraging to Tavares, especially to pledge his allegiance to a team that couldn’t tell you where their home games would be played in 2019.

But, the Islanders did acquire Jordan Eberle in a trade this offseason with the hopes of him giving John Tavares the help he needs. On paper, the Islanders should have a very good team going into the 2017-18 season. With veteran goal scorers like Andrew Ladd and Jordan Eberle, and Anders Lee coming off of his best season, Tavares could have a decent supporting cast going into the season. Plus, young players like Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang showed the team a lot down the stretch last season.

Their personnel is their pitch to John Tavares that they have young talent, as well as veteran players who have had major success in the past. While there are many negatives to the franchise, for once their personnel seems decent, at least at the forward position. There certainly are still some question marks at goalie and defense, but on paper this team should make the playoffs. Plus, the team could still make some moves this offseason if the right player becomes available. But, is making the playoffs going to be enough to keep Tavares in an Islanders uniform? Only he knows what he wants. So, do fans have a lot to be concerned about? Absolutely, but keep in mind that they have a pretty deep roster. If this team shows they can win with consistency, Tavares could very well stay with the organization. For now, fans should certainly cherish having John Tavares for at least 1 more year because the reality is we do not know where he will be playing next season.

Hope you liked this article, if you did be sure to drop a like and share it with your fellow Islanders fans!  Let us know what you think the Islanders do with JT in the comments below!

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 number 1 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

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