What a great playoffs it has been - the best in many years to be sure. Also instructive for figuring out the sort of team the Islanders
need to try to be, in order to thrive in the coming years. And so, a number of possible emphasis and styles emerge.
Last season, Chicago blended youth, skill with toughness and excellent goalkeeping on the way to the Cup (and a very strange cup winning goal to be sure as well)
This season, many playoff teams also have that combination of speed, skill, toughness and solid netminding.
With this in mind, which current and prospective Islanders cut the mustard, and who should they draft this year after all? Observations as follows:
#1 - Offensively, the development of El Nino into a two-way First line star is essential - adding him to Frans keying line 2, and hopefully Cizikas as well for line 3 or 4, would give three players to mold the offense around - Tavares' defensive limitations then are not an issue as much. KO & Grabner also helps in this area, and this allows for Moulson & Comeau to continue to play solid roles as well - that's already 8 of the potential 9 first 3 line forwards - a 3rd line PA Parenteau completes the picture, or even better, Kirill Kabanov - with a tough 4th line - Martin, Haley, Colliton would already do nicely - perhaps drafting a key forward would add depth for any inevitable injury - that is one argument anyway - but also mindful that we have Lee, Nelson and others coming up the system already over the next few years
#2 - Defensively, we are looking very solid as well - Streit, Hamonic, AMac, Jurcina - a very solid 4 - Hillen, Wishart, Donovan, de Haan, Katic, Reese - there is depth and quality - but the unit would stand for a big brute - and that's why this team should arguably draft Dougie Hamilton
#3 - Goaltending - Poulin is the future, DP can be a backup or 3rd man on the fringe - used sparingly at best, though his potential perhaps remains - if Poulin can stay healthy, others can spot in for backup
And so, the team appears to be heading for a blend of Vancouver (arguably this year's best team) and last year's Chicago - I like it
Draft Hamilton or for depth on Offense
Next year can't come quickly enough - 2011/12 could be like 1975 all over again