Remember in 2014 when Garth Snow pulled off a stunning preseason double by adding not one, but two top-four defensemen from cap crunched teams? Later that season, they turned the acquisitions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy into a longer-term payoff by getting both to agree to long-term deals.
At the time, you knew both commitments carried risk, especially on the back half, but that is the price of pending free agency, particularly when convincing players to stay with the NYI. At the time, you probably expected Boychuk’s aging curve would get uncomfortable — though you might have figured the younger, faster Nick Leddy was a decently safe bet.
What you didn’t know was which players would eventually make them expendable. And that five years hence, both would be candidates to be bumped from the lineup.
Devon Toews was drafted 108th overall earlier that summer. Noah Dobson was selected 12th overall in 2018, a pick available thanks to the trade of Travis Hamonic — who back in 2014, you’d have figured to be a long-term fixture.
The eulogies aren’t written yet — Leddy and Boychuk are both still here, and each could be big contributors this season. But right now they’re in a camp mix for third-pairing roles.
How things change.
- The Islanders did not play all that well Tuesday night at the Garden, a 3-1 (ENG) loss in their penultimate preseason game. [Isles]
- The Islanders are sure about their first and “fourth” line, but the middle six is still to be determined. [Newsday]
- Oliver Wahlstrom, who had five shots on goal last night, is enjoying camp since he’s way more into studying hockey than he is into book learnin’. [Isles]
- The Metro rivalries will likely heat up again with the Isles, Rangers and Devils all on the upswing. (That’s good news for the Post, since they only give two Averys about covering one of those teams.) [Post]
- Speaking of, Rangers-angle notes from last night, including Brassard being robbed by Lundqvist. [Post]
- Prospect Report: Of Ilya Sorokin, KHL shutout king, the Saginaw boys and newly captained Felix Bibeau. [Isles]
- Andrew Cuomo says the lawsuits against the Belmont arena lack “credibility.” [Newsday]
- ICYMI: Here’s the live webcam of the construction project, a 24/7 reminder to the plaintiffs that the project is happening whether they like it or not. [Isles]
- A transit professional writes into say none of this LIRR commuting to Belmont thing is as smooth or convenient as it sounds. [Island Now]
- As long as we’re looking way back, here are mistakes that slowed down the Islanders rebuild. [THW]
The next and final warmup game is Saturday in Bridgeport, also against the Rangers, so the betting is cuts will come today that leave just a handful of decisions left.
Not that there are that many decisions.
But about one of them...
How Are We Feeling About Noah Dobson?
Good. Pretty good.
Trotz said he expects to trim roster “when I get on the bus.” Raved about Dobson again, FWIW. #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) September 25, 2019
#Isles Barry Trotz generally upbeat again about D Noah Dobson, going . a true top line in Panarin-Zibanejad-Buchnevich, for the first time.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) September 25, 2019
"There were some holes in his game. He's a junior kid. Guys were roaming in space, he's got to be more disciplined."
Dobson: "I'm not really focusing on whether I'm going to make it or not. I think I'm just grasping everything. It was a cool experience playing at MSG ... I'm trying to enjoy the experience and obviously competing for a job. ... We'll see what happens." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) September 25, 2019
How Did We Feel About That Game Last Night?
Not so good. No, sir.
#Isles coach Barry Trotz as perturbed as he's been in preseason with team performance. Not happy with faceoffs, puck management, some of the line changes.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) September 25, 2019
Trotz was none too pleased with some line changes. "You're tired and you don't make a good line change, you just go, 'well, I'm gonna leave him in a bad position.' You've got to be a better teammate there. I didn't like some of our changes today." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) September 25, 2019
Name One Cool Thing That Happened Though
Seems like this goal shouldn’t happen — and arguably it shouldn’t, as an official got in the way of a Rangers clearing attempt. But enjoy how Mathew Barzal mesmerizes the Rangers while Jordan Eberle, just feet away, is all “I’m here, I’m here. he’s going to dish me the puck and then I will score like y’all are Penguins.”
And What About That One Topic?
JHS feels he's been "really strong" defensively. "I think aside from your play, it's how willing you are to learn. For me, I feel like I'm doing that on a consistent basis. I hope that they see that and know that it's just the start of the year and I could grow a lot." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) September 25, 2019
- Pursuant to the topic introduced at the top of today’s post, the Blues acquired Justin Faulk on the condition that he’d agree to a long-term contract. Doug Armstrong said they know the player will age, but they were happy to give long term in exchange for a little less in AAV. [Blues | Post-Dispatch | TSN]
- Popcorn ready? What’s more fun than watching Leafs fans and media devour each other? Auston Matthews has a disorderly conduct charge from back home in May (a possibility since the Leafs were well out of the playoffs then). [Sportsnet] DOES THIS MEAN HE’S NOT CAPTAIN MATERIAL?! [TSN] [Update: When I first posted these links, I hadn’t read the stories detailing the charge. My apologies, as I don’t mean to make light of the incident itself — where Matthews and accomplishes sure sound menacing — but rather to note that anything like this will become a nonstop flashpoint for Leafs fans and media to go to war with and amongst each other.]
- How does Brayden Point’s contract affect the remaining RFAs? And 30 other thoughts. [Sporstnet]
- Also mentioned in those 31 Thoughts, the Devils and Taylor Hall remain in talks for a long-term extension. [NHL]
- Happy birthday, Gritty! Somehow you work. [Broad Street Hockey]