As we come toward the end of year three of the rebuild, I thought it would be a good time to look back and see how far we've come, before looking forward to what needs to be done and what we can expect next year and beyond.
I would think that the rebuild started after the 2006-07 season ended and Ryan Smyth decided not to return. If you look at the Isles open night roster from 2007-08; there are only 4 players left standing and three of them could be gone over the next year or two. The four left are DiPietro, Hunter, Martinek and Gervais.
Before the 2007-08 season was over Nielsen, Comeau and Okposo saw time in the NHL and the rebuild had begun. Over the following 3 years, Garth Snow made several key moves to bring about the change we now see on the ice.
1) the 2008 Draft. Trading down to select Bailey, but more importantly to get the extra picks to draft Hamonic and Petrov. I don't think I need to go into this extensively for most of you that read this site know, the 2008 draft could be seen as the draft that turn this franchise around. That's even if Bailey doesn't turn into the top six foward we hope.
2) Free Agent signings: Streit, PA Parentau and Konopka. While these three may not be around in two or three years when the Islanders may be a contender; they have provided key elements needed at the time.
3) Picking up Matt Moulson: 30 goal wingers just don't fall in your lap. Great scouting and a great signing.
4) Waiver wire: Michael Grabner. You're not supposed to be able to pick up the Calder Trophy winner off the waiver wire.
5) Trades: Campoli for Calvin de Haan; Roloson for Ty Wishart; Both could be part of a 6 man defense core for years to come.
6) Continuing to build through the draft; John Tavares, Nino Niederreiter and this years top five pick.
7) Playing the kids and taking your lumps. The last three years have been tough to watch at times. Even last nights game, another lose in OT after a third peroid lead is blown. But lots of progress has been made and just think of when Gervais and Martinek are replaced with Streit and de Haan. Plus adding Nino and another top 5 pick.
The team has been rebuilt but, Snow is still building a winner. Given time they will get there sooner than expected. Next year can't come soon enough for this young and improving team.