The Islanders just don't have enough players on the current roster in the prime of their careers. The majority of the players are under 25 or older than 32. Most players are in their prime in their late 20s and early 30s. I would say from 26 to 32. On the Isles current roster they have eight players that fall within this category and this includes DiPietro and Montoya. Making it only 6 skaters, Moulson, Neilsen, Parenteau, Jurcina, Reese and Wallace. Considering the limited role of Reese and Wallace, this figure then drops to four.
From a look at the probable roster for 2012-13 this does not appear to be changing in the next two or three years. Mostly because of the Isles lack of ability to attract top UFA talent while in the prime of their career (26-32). Steit was the last and he was not considered a top UFA when signed. He has had one really good season, one so-so season and now this year. He will be 35 next year and in the last year of his contract.
So how does Snow change this? Do we have to wait until the draft picks mature? It will be three more years before Okposo is 26. By then only McDonald and Grabner will have also reached beyond their 26th birthday.
Therefore, I would think this makes it even more important for Snow to lock up Neilsen, Parenteau and even Jurcina for next year and maybe longer. Not that Jurcina is the answer on the backline but, at least he is more man than boy.
Players like Tavares and Hamonic who make major impacts in their early 20's is the exception, not the rule and the Isles are relying on too many 20 to 24 year olds right now and for the forseeable future. Can Strome and Neiderreiter at 19 and 20 years old next year respectively be relied on to make major contributions?
Snow may need to make a move during the 2012 calender year to bring in at least two 26-30 year olds to help lead the team. It was stated recently in the comments section that players like Guerin, Weight and Rolston were too old. While they could lead on the bench and in the locker room, they cold not lead on the ice and play heavy minutes.
Snow has tried to bring in UFA. Mostly for the defense and has failed. He will need to try again this summer but, it may be time to make a trade. I don't think the older players that they would make available during this years trade deadline (Rolston, Nabokov, Staios) could retrieve the type of player the Isles need.
There has been some comments regarding if the Isles should trade Mark Streit. While I am not a big fan of Streit and think his best days are behind him, trading him would most likely not bring back what the Isles need. Trading a top four Dman (Streit) who logs heavy minutes for a draft pick that may not see the NHL for 3 or 4 years is taking a step back. Plus even if they could trade Streit for let's say Jay Bouwmeester, the Isles would still only have 3 top 4 d-men for next year.
Therefore, I would think there are three options; 1) Be patient and wait. It will take a few more years before enough of the draft picks mature enough and 2012-13 and maybe 2013-14 will be more of the same. 2) Extremely over pay for an UFA or two this summer. Give Ryan Suter a Yashin/DePietro type contract. or 3) Trade some of the players/prospects (Bailey, Ullstrom, Kabanov, Cizikas etc.) and/or draft picks (this year's first and second round picks) for players in their prime that are presently being overpaid by a team with cap issues.
So, is it time to remain patient or is it time to be bold?