Regular Season: All the things that the Islanders needed to go right went right for the Islanders, who made the playoffs as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. John Tavares emerged as a top flight NHL centre, Brad Boyes was a bargain at $1M, and Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky provided solid veteran defense.
Playoffs: The Islanders gave the Penguins more than they bargained for, exposing Marc-Andre Fleury and pushing the favorites to 6 games before bowing out.
Ready To Make The Jump: F Ryan Strome
BIG 3 FACTORS
1. Who Plays With JT?: Brad Boyes had some good chemistry with John Tavares, and it is rather surprising that a) Boyes wasn’t brought back and b) Boyes still hasn’t been signed by anyone. Matt Moulson is cemented on one side, now the question of who fills the Boyes role needs to be answered, and I have a hard time believing that whoever on the roster fills that spot will be as effective as Boyes.
2. The Price Was Streit: Captain Mark Streit is now former captain. He was an integral part of the team, and his absence will be felt in all areas of the game. Visnovsky was a solid 2D, but now it looks like it will be on him to take over Streit’s role, and at age 37, how much does he have left in the tank?
3. Nabokov No 1: Evgeni Nabokov was stellar last season, taking over full time after Rick DiPietro fizzled and was eventually bought out. With Kevin Poulin as an inexperienced backup, Nabokov will shoulder a big load for a 38 year old goalie who will likely face a lot of shots and increased defensive zone time now that the puck-moving Streit is gone.
PROGNOSIS: The losses of Boyes and Streit combined with the new alignment will put the strain on the Islanders to return to the post-season. The Red Wings coming over and the fact that the Flyers cannot possibly be as dysfunctional as they were last year leads me to believe that the Isles will be on the outside looking in come late April.
PREDICTION: 6th Metropolitan Division
We will be previewing every NHL team ahead of Training Camp which for most teams will begin on Sept 11th. As a twist, we will be unveiling our teams in reverse order to how I predict they will finish in the standings. Here is the schedule (you can click on a team name to see the preview for that team):
|1||Sept 9||Sept 8||Sept 7||Sept 6|
|2||Sept 5||Sept 4||Sept 3||Sept 2|
|3||Sept 1||Aug 31||Aug 30||Aug 29|
|4||Aug 28||Aug 27||Aug 26||Aug 25|
|5||Aug 24||Aug 23||Aug 22||Aug 21|