Steve Kerley, aka 24 Cups, checks in wth his latest comprehensive scouting report:
When I was a young boy, my grandmother used to take me
downtown to the flagship Eaton’s store at College and Yonge in Toronto. I would marvel at the number of floors,
the high ceilings, and the vast amounts of marble. At the end of our visit, she would take me downstairs to the
discount level in the basement where all the ‘real’ people shopped.
Fast forward to 2009 and you will find
that the New York Islanders are one of the dwellers of the NHL’s basement brigade. They have been there for quite a
long time and they don’t appear to be leaving anytime soon.
• Bob Gainey spent two weeks
this summer trying to retool the Canadiens. The Islanders have been trying to rebuild their franchise
for 20 years. In essence, it’s
only truly just begun and there’s a long way to go. This is basically a total
rebuild similar to that of an expansion team. The Isles GM, Garth Snow, is taking his time and going with
the kids. He has had a very quiet
summer with the exception of shoring up the goaltending mess.
• it all begins with John
Tavares. Just 19 years old, he
already wears a variety of hats for the Islanders. Offensive catalyst, major building block, team saviour, and
the marquee player who will hopefully become the new face of the
franchise. No need to review his
history as we all witnessed his selection as the 1st overall pick
this summer. Some question his
skating, but he is off to a great start after seven games as he has already
accumulated 7 points. To top it off, he scored the SO winner last night for the
Isles first victory of the year.
A pure sniper with great hands and hockey sense. His ‘extra year’ in junior and the
Olympic break should mean that he
will be able to keep pace throughout the long NHL season.
• He is joined up front by two
other top notch young forwards.
Kyle Okposo is a budding power forward who displays an array of high end
skills. Believe it or not, he was
the Islanders top scorer last year with 39 points. And he only played 65 games. Josh Bailey is the 1st round
pick that Snow traded down for in the 2008 draft. He passed on budding star, Nikita Filatov, so Bailey better
come through. Bailey is a great
playmaker who made the jump straight from junior in his draft year. He certainly appears to be the real
deal and will be the perfect 2nd line centre to provide a solid
one-two punch along with Tavares.
• Raise your hand if you have
ever heard of Matt Moulson. That’s
what I thought – I’ve never heard of him either. Right now, he’s the player to watch on the Islanders. He has exploded onto the scene with 5
goals and 3 assists in 7 games.
Plays on a line with Tavares and Okposo and is making the best of the
opportunity. Classic late bloomer
at 25, he is an UFA signing from the Kings’ organization. Moulson had a great career in the NCAA
and has been a solid contributor in the AHL where he amassed 160 point in 180
games (with 36 PP goals). He has a
decent shot and a nose for the net.
Wears # 26.
• Doug Weight, 38, has been brought
back for another year to add some experience and help out the PP. He should also take some heat off the
young kids as he fulfills the role of mentor. Weight should also bring another pick or asset to the
organization when he is traded at the deadline.
• There are a few young players
on this team who have been kicking around for awhile and need to take it to the
next level if they are going to make an impact on the organization. Sean Bergenheim (25), Blake Comeau
(23), Frans Nielsen (25), and Steve Tambellini (25) are all examples of players
who still haven’t reached their potential. Tambellini is on the clock while Nielson is the guy with the
most upside. Not a lot of
finishers on this list.
– Trent Hunter is a warrior but
he tends to be injury prone due to the nature of his game. Too bad, seeing that he is in his prime
and comes in at a low cap hit.
Richard Park is a reliable jack of all trades who benefits from the fact
that the roster is so thin. Tim Jackman is the enforcer as witnessed by his 19
fighting majors last year.
Scoring is a major issue in New York as the Isles only netted 198 goals
last year. That should be good
news for Rob Schremp who is a waiver pick-up from Edmonton. Lots of skill and
potential here but he displays a half miler work ethic and attitude. Schremp is the Isles’ version of SK74.
– it’s not pretty on the
back-end and the Islanders will need to bring in more kids as the D lacks skill
and depth. Radek Martinek is a
decent defenseman but he always seems to struggle with injuries. He has never played more than 70 games
in a season during the past 6 years.
Andy Sutton has great size but is hurt even more than Martinek. Brendan Witt (-9 so far this year) was
horrible last year and may be living on his past reputation He’s lost a step
and costs big coin. Any of these
guys could go at the deadline.
– Bruno Gervais and Mark Streit
are the bright spots in terms of the future. No need to review Streit on this site, but Gervais does have
the potential to break through. Unfortunately, he is off to a rough start this
year (no points, -6).
Smallish Dman, Jack Hillen, is also in the mix.. Calvin De Haan and Aaron Ness are two
undersized, puck moving defensive prospects who bring hope to the Isles. Both players will need tons of
seasoning. Corey Trivino hails
from Stouffville and is presently attending college. He’s a nifty pivot who you will be hearing from in another
– As we all know, Rick DiPietro
is the newest disaster to weigh down the Isles. Thank goodness for insurance or this guy would rival Alexei
Yashin (6 more years at a cap hit of $2.7M per year) in terms of drag on the
budget. Dwayne Roloson (solid in
Edmonton) and Martin Biron (in
decline?) are his replacements and should also provide good trade bait in the
new year. Snow also drafted two
top young prospects in the summer, Mikko Koskinen (Finland) and Anders Nilsson
(Sweden). Both these guys come in
at 6’5″ and reflect the team’s concern over DiPietro’s cloudy future.
Stat Pack – (does not include
the Carolina game) GF: 29th, GA: 16th, GD:
-13, GAA: 3.50, PP: 11th, PK: 13th, FO:
48%, CS: 16.3M!
Injury List – DiPietro, Hunter, Nielsen (played against
The Islanders won their first
game of the year last night in a SO against Carolina. The victory put them one
point behind Montreal in the East.
Roloson was in net and stopped 35 of 38 shots. Puck possession was the
difference in this game which was reflected by the fact that New York had a
44-20 edge in face-off wins.
Martinek and Streit both logged over 26 minutes each. Montreal plays
them twice in the next five days so four points is a must. A split won’t be good enough. It’s time for the forwards and the PP
to start lighting the lamp.