The Present and Future Core of the Islanders
- John Tavares- I have posted many comments about how Tavares is not a playmaking center, I WAS COMPLETLY WRONG!!!!! In the past month something has clicked with him, he is a force to be reckoned with. He is showing the Islanders and the NHL why he was the overall #1 pick. I still beleive he needs to work on his faceoffs and defensive play, but now I agree that moving him to wing would hinder his progress. Next season I expect 35 - 40 goals.
- Kyle Okposo - It took him about a month but he is playing the type of hockey we expect from him. But next year he must raise the bar nextseason. This year was a wash for him because of the injury time. If the Islanders do not sign a top 4 Winger then Okposo should be moved to the 1st line with JT and Moulson, and if he does I expect him to score 25 goals that is a very realistic amount for his skill. Also he would be able to add defensive help to the 1st line.
- Matt Moulson - He proved last season was no fluke. JT and Moulson provide a top notch one two punch as any in the league. I expect next season the same output from him 30 - 35 goals.
- Michael Grabner- Must prove next season this season was no fluke. He also must be ready at the beginning of the season. If he does just like Moulson he will be rewarded with a new deal. I would like to see 25 goals next season and if he continues to play like he has I could see him scoring up to 30 goals.
- Frans Nielsen Josh Bailey P.A. Parenteau Blake Comeau and Nino Niederreiter - All 5 players are linked and to some extent so is Kyle Okposo to the Islanders aquiring a top 4 wing. In my opinion the Islanders must secure a top 4 Veteran Winger that could take some of the pressure off the kids next season. I believe this will be the difference between just making the playoffs and being a 1st round knockout and being a legit playoff team that has the chance of doing damage in the playoffs. If the Islanders do make that move they are going to have to shuffle the lines around and they will still have to even if they do not. Lets start with the most likely scenario the Islanders do not sign a legit top 4 winger. Okposo moves to 1st line, Nielson stays the 2nd line center and PA becomes the 2nd line RW with Grabner. Bailey stays as the 3rd line center working with Comeau and Nino. If by some miracle the Islanders land a top 4 winger then they would be added to the 1st line with Moulson and JT. Bailey becomes the 2nd line center between Grabner and Okposo and Neilsen centers PA and Nino and Comeau is the odd man out if Nino is able to produce. My thoughts are two fold, Bailey should not be paired with PA. Both of them are what I would call soft players, that is why they should not play on the same line. My thought on Bailey moving to the 2nd line between Grabner and Okposo is he can do what he does best setting up plays for Okposo and Grabner. Next season Bailey must do more than just show flashes of great ability he must play more consistant. Nielsen in my opinion is best suited for 3rd line center, but Bailey must turn the corner for Neisen to move back to the 3rd line.
- Zenon Konopka Micheal Haley Matt Martin - This is a perfect 4th line. Size, Toughness, and just enough Talent. Each of these players have skill and are not just goons. The Islanders can play this line 8 - 10 minutes a game and not be embarrased. Konopka brings the added ability of being a 60% faceoff ceter that is key. Haley and Martin have shown they have skill to be very servicable 4th line power fowards.
- Mark Streit Andrew MacDonald Travis Hamonic Milan Jurcina - This is our core defensemen as of now. In a perfect world the Islanders would add a #2 defenseman to pair with Streit but just like the above scenario with a top 4 winger I doubt it is going to happen. So the Islanders are going to need to come up with 2 defenseman from their own roster. But lets put it this way just having Streit back improves this defense.
- Radek Martinek Mark Eaton Calvin DeHaan Ty Wishart Jack Hillen - These are the players more than likely we need to get a #2, #6 and spare defenseman from. The big question is DeHaan can he make the jump that Hamonic made this year. He is the real wild card of the bunch.DeHaan should start off at Bridgeport next season and develop. Eaton should start the season as Streit's defensive partner and Wishart and Hillen should battle for the #6. Martinek should be our spare.
- Al Montoya Rick DiPietro Kevin Poulin Mikko Koskinen Nathan Lawson - Montoya has earned the right to start off the at training camp as the #1 goalie and it should be his job to loose. DiPietro needs to prove he can stay healthy and be affective, He should start off the season at Bridgeport and play at least a half of season without getting hurt, the "As The Stomach Turns" soap opera must stop with the end of this season. Next season a decision must be made to benefit the Islanders not Dipietro. Poulin and Koskinen should battle in training camp to be Montoya's backup. Lawson is a mediocre backup he is best suited for emergency 3rd string goalie duty.