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.

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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

 

Will the firing of Jack Capuano provide a spark for the Islanders?

jack-capunao
Via Getty Images

According to multiple reports, the New York Islanders have fired head coach Jack Capuano. This coming the day after one of the teams better wins on the season, a 4-0 victory against the Boston Bruins. The team is 17-17-8, and sitting in last place in the Metropolitan Division. It was only a matter of time, as the team consistently blew 3rd period leads, and simply have not met expectations thus far this season. Assistant coach Doug Weight will serve as the interim head coach.

The blame for the Islanders struggles this season can be placed on many, and Capuano was certainly one of them. However, some might question the personnel he was dealt with this season. The Islanders did not resign two of their top players in Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielson, as well as the former NHL leader in hits Matt Martin. There certainly are many new faces on the team this year, and in my opinion it killed the teams chemistry. Other players had to step up to help the team’s best player, John Tavares. After winning a playoff series in 2016 for the first time since the 1992-1993 season, it looked as if the team was moving forward. The season is not over, but last place at this point is unacceptable.

So now we stand with a new head coach in Doug Weight. Maybe this is the spark the Islanders need. They are only 8 points out of a playoff spot, and maybe the players will preform with some fire now. They are a win streak away from being right in the thick of things. Jack Capuano may have been here through the ups and downs, but he helped the team break a negative streak they had been stuck with for years. I will never forget the 2016 season.

The team has a lot of talent, and fans have been waiting for them to take the next step. Unfortunately, Jack Capuano’s time was up here in New York, as the team has underachieved. By firing Capuano in the middle of the season, in my opinion it shows the team believes they still have a chance at making the playoffs.This could lead to the team making a run towards the postseason. They might fall short, but maybe this is the spark the team needed to realize no one’s job is safe. If the struggles continue, fans will be calling next for General Manager Garth Snow to be fired. Jack Capuano’s legacy with the Islanders is simple, he brought some hope and enjoyment to Islander fans, but his team just did not peak their potential.

 

New York sports fans may have something to look forward to

The NFL season was rough for both the New York Jets and Giants. Neither team made the playoffs. The NBA season has not been much better, as the Knicks are in last place in the eastern conference, and the Nets are battling just for the 8th seed in the conference. In the 2014 MLB season, neither the Mets nor Yankees made the playoffs.

Via www.cbssports.com
Via http://www.cbssports.com

The sport that is least talked about, hockey has something that would would get a lot of viewers. The Islanders and Rangers, who both sit in first place in the Metropolitan division with 84 points a piece, can potentially meet in the playoffs. The way it looks at the moment, they would not meet until the eastern conference finals, but there is a good chance of this.

Via www.nytimes.com
Via http://www.nytimes.com

All New York hockey fans would not want anything more then for these 2 teams to meet in the playoffs. The islanders have shocked the hockey universe by being in first place this late in the season, are currently 3-1 vs the Rangers. With the Islanders high powered offense, it will be tough for them to make a deep run in the playoffs with their lack of experience, but hey, why not. It is their last season at Nassau Coliseum, and they’d love to bring the cup back to Long Island, led by John Tavares, who is tied for the league lead in points.

Via msn.foxsports.com
Via msn.foxsports.com

The Rangers on the other hand are full of experience, led by Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist, in which the team has been to the playoffs in 9 of the last 10 seasons. The Rangers are going all in this year, as they are up there in age. If they meet the Islanders in the playoffs, this series will bring the rivalry back. The Islanders have been a quiet franchise for the last 15 or 20 years, and they are destined to make a run at some point.

Via empirewritesback.com
Via empirewritesback.com

So what would be better then the Islander meeting up with the Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Each team has their advantages, and it would be exciting to watch. Every New Yorker would pick a side. It is something bright for New York sports fans to look forward to considering all other sports have not treated them well.

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