The Islanders need to address many things this offseason. But first let’s just go over what they are good with right now:
Goaltending looks good with Nabokov signing the one year extension. Along with that we have Poulin and Nilsson who are some of the top young prospect goalies.
The Sound Tigers are loaded with talent with Calvin de Haan, Brock Nelson, Matt Donovan, Aaron Ness, Casey Cizikis, David Ullstrum, Michael Haley and guys like Anders Lee and Scott Mayfield on the way. Just let them all adjust to their game and soon enough they will be playing with the big club.
Now here is what the Islanders need to address:
Blue line needs some work. A-Mac, Hamonic, Striet are good where they are. The goal is to sign one big name free agent defenseman and possibly a second. The rest of the spots can be filled in by Donovan, Ness, de Haan, or Reese.
Resigning Parenteau and Reese
Adding one more offensive weapon (possibly in the draft)
Bring in some more physical players
If all these problems can be addressed this summer, then we will all be rocking the Coliseum in 365 days for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
To address all these problems, I’ve done some research and come up with lists of players that could possibly be brought in to help the Islanders get back into the playoffs:
FA to go after:
Zach Parise W NJD- Such a long shot but if we could bring him in it would legitimize our offense. His dad was a hero in the 70’s for the Islanders. I think he is a player I would overpay to come here. He is the total package and would be beloved by all the fans.
Matt Carle D PHI- This is a guy who I think is the most realistic guy that the Islanders could sign. A great puck moving defenseman who is still young and could help out big time on the blue line. This season he played in all 82 games and recorded 34 assists. You really can’t go wrong with this guy. Very under-rated defenseman on a very good Flyers defensive unit.
Denis Wideman D WAS- This guy might be tough to get. But he can bring what the Islanders need on the blue line. Like Carle, he too played in all 82 games and recorded 46 points. He was a 2012 all-star and is only 29 years old.
Ryan Suter D NSH- In reality this guy would be the most successful signing. Everyone saw what he is capable of in the 2010 Olympics with Team USA. He and Shea Weber are the back bone of the Nashville Predators. He is a great puck moving defenseman and a shutdown guy as well. Nashville might have to let him or Weber go. My guess is that they stick with keeping Shea Weber. If the Islanders could bring Suter in, he would be not only a great on ice acquisition, but he would be a great with the community and working to help find the Islanders a new home. Ryan has excellent hockey pedigree and is still 27 years old.
Carlo Colaiacovo D STL- This is a guy who the Islanders should look to get if all else fails. A guy who is on one of the most under-ranked defensive units in the NHL, Carlo has the offensive and defensive abilities that would be a great compliment to Mark Striet. He averages about 28-30 points a season. He would be a great sign for the summer, but only if none of the above work out.
Zenon Konopka- Do I even have to explain it? He has heart and he is downright physical and nasty and is a great faceoff guy. Matt Martin and Michael Haley can’t do all the fighting. Bring him back to where he belongs.
Players to resign:
PA Parenteau W NYI- With 67 points this past season and a vital piece to the “TMP” line, he is a guy that must not get away. If Garth lets him get away, he better be bringing in a player like Zach Parise.
Dylan Reese D NYI- Great guy and has good hockey IQ. Said that he loves playing on a line with Striet. Bringing him back to play with Striet wouldn’t hurt the Isles in any way. He still has some stuff to work on but first Garth has to sign him.
Players to take in the draft:
The Islanders were awarded the 4th overall pick in the draft lottery. Depending on which way you look at it this is either a good thing or a bad thing. Some of you are saying let’s keep this pick and others are saying trade down. In my opinion, trading down is pointless. Take the best available player there is. If you don’t want the pick, then trade it for a guy who is already in the NHL and that can help the team right away.
Depending on the scenario, there are only a select few guys I think the Islanders should take with this pick. If they decide not to use the pick, I would say include it in a package to trade for someone or involve it in a sign and trade for a Ryan Suter or someone at that caliber.
Ryan Murray D- “Confident, smart and poised; Silvertips captain is an excellent skater with great transitional ability.” Scouts say he does all the little things right and isn’t the most flashy guy on the ice, but he gets the job done. They say he is the best defenseman in the draft, and since we lack defensive depth he is the best pick if he falls to number four. He also has some size which is what we lack on the back end.
Filip Forsberg C- “Right-handed center is 6-foot-2 and has a great shot, two-way acumen; infectious winning attitude.” Personally, I think we take him if Murray is off the board when we pick. I think he would be an excellent complement to John Tavares or Ryan Strome.
In my opinion that’s all I would take with our pick. Others can argue Mathew Dumba, Griffin Reinhart, and Morgan Reilly, all defensemen that are highly ranked in this draft. They all are legitimate picks but they shouldn’t be our first options. I like Dumba because he has a cannon of a shot and is a very physical player. The only problem is he isn’t as big as we are looking for. But don’t get me wrong he can pack a punch. Reinhart is big and strong and can play well in his own zone. He also has great vision and an excellent shot. But some scouts say he might not be NHL ready yet. Reilly has been said to have a Bobby Orr style of play and is being compared to Erik Karlsson so he has a great offensive skill set. He is just coming off a knee injury and I think at this point where the Islanders are at that it’s not really worth the risk if Murray or Forsberg are available.
Like I said earlier, if there is a good deal trade wise, then I think the Islanders should take it.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson D PHX- Everyone seems to be talking about this guy. I did some research and I’m impressed. He was taken 5 picks after John Tavares and his numbers are impressive for a defenseman with 32 points this season. He’s 6’2” 190 pounds and is only 20 years old. I heard rumors about trading Nino and our 4th overall pick for him. I personally think that isn’t fair on our side of the deal. If we were going to give up that pick and Nino, I would want either their first or second round pick from this year. I honestly think that as long as the trade is fair, trading for this guy would be a huge deal.
Douglas Murray D SJS- Down-right physical and nasty d-man who can kill penalties and has a decent slap shot. Would definitely help bring back some physical play that used to define the Islanders. (Any late hits on Tavares, this guy will make sure they don’t get away with it). I would be willing to give up Reese and a 6th round or a 4th rounder for this guy.
Eric Nystrom W DAL- Plays just like his old man. It would just be right to have him come back home to play for the hometown team and the team his legendary father played for. I would flash a 4th or 5th round pick in Dallas’s face for him.
Jack Johnson D CBJ- My favorite player who is not on the Islanders. He is a great representative to the game of hockey. Such a positive role model. He also represented the United States in the Olympics with Team USA. He was the only member of the team to march in the opening ceremony. This guy is the complete package on the blue line. He has great play in both zones. He is a great leader and can bring energy to any club he is with. He has a unique swagger to his game that makes him the fan favorite wherever he is. What should the Islanders give up to get this guy? Well honestly this probably won’t even happen. But if it did, the asking price would be pretty hefty. Columbus Blue Jackets are in a bigger rebuilding process than we are. Also considering that the asking price for Rick Nash was extremely high, I could see the same for Jack Johnson. But in a perfect world, I would give up our first rounder and one or two prospects in return for Jack Johnson. Considering how high our pick is and how good our farm system is, I would say that is a reasonable deal. If the asking price was a little higher, I would possibly throw in Josh Bailey or Andrew MacDonald. But let’s be real, I would love to get the guy on my team any way I can just without giving up our core guys or manipulating our chemistry.
Any other names you think should be up here just post on the comments. I’d also like to hear what you think about my propositions. Just thinking realistically. All I know is that Garth needs to do some big things in order for this team to get to the playoffs. Also, Wang needs to figure out the arena situation. For those of you who read my other article, 5 Possible Sites for a New Isles Arena, you can see the various choices of spots in which Wang can go with. Whatever he does he needs to do it fast. That lease time will be up sooner than we know it.
Just some other things to think about. Phoenix has been in a similar situation as the Islanders these past few years. But look what they did. They started playing better and made the playoffs. Now they are talking about staying put in Glendale. Hopefully the Islanders can have that same good news.
I also was reading some comments on Facebook, and I came across some interesting propositions. On the discussion of a new coach and GM, he said “Ken Morrow as the new GM, and bring in Ron Wilson as the head coach. Just look at Anaheim and Toronto, they both received coaches that had just been recently fired and for a little while they had a great shot at making the playoffs.” I couldn’t agree more with having Ken Morrow as the GM. Great guy, well respected and he knows his stuff. Notice how he went to the draft lottery and not Garth Snow. In the case of Ron Wilson, I think it would be a legitimate candidate. He has had some success in the past and did a wonderful job with Team USA. Most other people I talk to about getting a new coach bring up Terry Murray or one of the Sutter brothers. But who knows what will happen. For all we know Doug Weight might be the new coach or new GM. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got either job.