Thursday, September 30, 2010

2010-2011 New York Islanders Preview

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Last Years' Results

34 wins, 37 losses, 11 OTL, 79 points, 26th overall in the league

Team Analysis

The New York Islanders are a team of high highs and low lows. Already the Islanders who finally were moving in the right direction after what seemed like an endless rebuild suffered long term injuries to two of it's key players. This season looks to be yet another in this long rebuild the Isles faithful have had to endure however there will be some bright spots as a lot of kids will look to get an opportunity and to make names for themselves in the league. 

The Islanders are led up front by former first overall pick 20-year old John Tavares who's been a superstar since he was fifteen. Tavares entered the season last year to much fan fare but has had difficulties with his skating and adjusting to the physical play in the NHL. Tavares will look to enter this season much stronger and with a season of experience under his belt. The 20-year old center boasts a freaky hockey IQ that I can only describe as "hockey jedi" and looks to become one of the most brilliant creative players in the league. However Tavares will largely have to do it by himself this year as there's not much scoring depth beyond himself up front for the Islanders. Kyle Okposo is a former seventh overall pick who the Islanders have been slowly developing into a first line scoring forward. Okposo had an excellent sophomore campaign last year and looked to have a breakout campaign this season before being sidelined with a shoulder injury that could see him miss as much as three months. Due to Okposo's injury current fifth overall pick Nino Niederreiter will likely see NHL time this year and could remain with the club until Okposo returns. Niederreiter is a big power forward who reminds me of a young Jarome Iginla and was labeled the most NHL ready player in the draft. Matt Moulson seemed to come out of nowhere to score 30 goals for the Islanders last season. Moulson who has previously bounced around the AHL has developed into a decent scorer with a good shot. The 26-year old winger is a rather one dimensional player but has an acumen in the offensive zone that is valuable to the Islanders.

Blake Comeau will be a fixture in the Islanders top six and will likely be riding shotgun with Tavares. Comeau displays a smart two-way game and work ethic but lacks the polish and consistency of top tier player. Frans Nielsen is a talented two-way player who also has solid playmaking skills. Nielsen is a likely candidate to have a breakout season while being a permanent member of the second line. Likely bouncing between the second and third line will be uber puck wizard Robbie Schremp who found a home with the Islanders after several frustrating seasons in the minors. Schremp hasn't been able to translate the game that's made him a YouTube god to the NHL yet but will get ample opportunity to prove himself in a scoring role. 

Former ninth overall pick Josh Bailey has developed into a solid two-way player who's reminiscent of a young Trevor Linden. Bailey will likely bounce between the second and third line while adding a respectable amount of points. Trent Hunter will be a fixture on the Islanders third line and will contribute a honest grinding game. Hunter is a big bodied winger who hasn't found the consistency in his offensive game to be a top six player but plays a very respectable complimentary role. Young 21-year old Matt Martin is a big 6-2 winger who plays a physical crash and bang style while displaying a decent shot. At the time of this writing it seems likely Martin will make the team and bounce between the third and fourth line.

Rounding out the forwards core for the Islanders is 39-year old Doug Weight who remains on the team to add a veteran presence and some scoring pop when he's in the lineup. The Islanders signed gritty pugilist Zenon Konopka this off-season to protect the kids in the lineup and to provide a solid defensive game. 22-year old Jesse Joensuu is another big kid at 6-4 and has displayed a scoring touch at the various levels of his career. It's a good likelihood he'll see significant games this year. Training camp invitee Jed Ortmeyer could also win a contract soon and be a defensive winger on the Isle's fourth line. Grinding agitating winger John Sim will likely bounce between all the lines this season and could pop a fair amount of goals. Depth winger PA Parenteau could also find himself getting significant games this season.

The Islanders were cursed to lose premiere defenseman Mark Streit during training camp to a shoulder injury that will see him out for the season. Streit was arguably the most underrated player in the league before his injury tallying some of the best numbers in the NHL from the back end. Losing the Swiss defenseman will significantly hurt the Islanders. James Wisniewski will get significantly more opportunity this season then at any point in his career as he'll be asked to become the Islanders number one defender in Streit's absence. Wisniewski has quietly developed into a talented three zone defenseman who displays a competent offensive acumen. Wisnieski will likely prove to be an intelligent moneypuck acquisition for the Islanders. 

Veteran Stanley Cup winner Mark Eaton signed with the Islanders this off-season and will look to be a stabilizing influence in the Islanders top four. Eaton is a player you don't really notice but he'll quietly eat 20 minutes a night with mistake free hockey. Radek Martinek is a talented smooth skating defenseman who can play the shutdown role however has been injury plagued since entering the league. Martinek is 34-years old now and remains a huge injury concern but will be entering the season healthy. 

Filling out the Islanders' defense will be impressive defensive defenseman Andrew MacDonald who played 46 games in his rookie debut last season. MacDonald doesn't have much of an offensive game but is extremely competent in the defensive zone and displays impressive wheels for a defense oriented defenseman. MacDonald really shows the potential to blossom into the Islanders' key shutdown defenseman. Bruno Gervais has been often criticized by the Islanders' faithful for having holes in his game however Gervais is a young talented offensive defenseman who will help to distribute the puck in Streit's absence. 24-year old Jack Hillen has very quietly emerged as a decent puck moving defenseman since being signed out of college by the Islanders. Hillen is another strong candidate to have a breakout season on the Islanders blueline. The Islanders also signed depth defenseman Mike Mottau to a two year contract following Streit's injury.

In net the Islanders will have 40-year old crafty veteran Dwayne Roloson as their 1A. Roloson blossomed into an excellent starter late in his hockey career and will likely wind up a great career on the island this season. Backing up Roloson will be charismatic former number one overall pick Rick DiPietro who's returning to the Island after managing only 13 games in two hellish injury plagued years. DiPietro is one of best puck-handling goalies in the league and just oozes confidence but will have to overcome two years of knee injuries to return to prominence.

Team Trending

The Islanders quite honestly don't have the talent to make the playoffs and this will be another year in their rebuild cycle. However the joy of this season for the Islanders will be watching the progression of several young players who will soon lead this team back to prominence. It's also very encouraging that DiPietro is healthy as he's gone from future of the franchise to complete write-off to potentially being back in the fold. This season will see Tavares take another step forward to becoming one of the elite players in the league. Despite this, expect the Islanders to be a lottery team and to come in somewhere between 25th-30th in the league. 

BVB's Projected Opening Night Lineup




Player Projections


Matt Moulson - 27 G/23 A 50 P
John Tavares - 33 G/39 A 72 P
Blake Comeau 24 G/23 A 47 P

John Sim - 13 G/14 A 27 P
Frans Nielsen - 17 G/28 A 45 P
Nino Niederreiter - 12 G/14 A 26 P

Matt Martin - 7 G/11 A 18 P
Josh Bailey - 18 G/26 A 44 P 
Trent Hunter - 17 G/20 A 37 P

Jesse Joensuu - 6 G/14 A 20 P
Zenon Konopka - 3 G/9 A 12 P
PA Parenteau - 4 G/7 A 11 P

Robbie Schemp - 7 G/20 A 27 P
Kyle Okposo - 6 G/15 A 21 P


Mark Eaton - 4 G/14 A 16 P
James Wisniewski - 5 G/31 A 36 P
Jack Hillen - 4 G/23 A 27 P
Radek Martinek - 3 G/15 A 18 P
Bruno Gervais - 4 G/16 A 20 P
Andy MacDonald - 2 G/10 A 12 P
Mike Mottau - 0 G/7 A 7 P


Dwayne Roloson - 22-28-7 | 3.19 GAA | .909 Sv%
Rick DiPietro - 10-11-4 | 3.07 GAA | .913 Sv%

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