Random Thoughts is one of the most popular columns on The Voice and it returns now that the NHL Draft which means more to us Islander fans than in any NHL City except Tampa Bay. I present 5 Random Thoughts on the current state of the Islanders and then open the discussion up the Millions.... er... Thousands of fans who come here to share your thoughts on our team.
1 - THE DRAFT IS LOOMING, WHO WILL IT BE? - This is it. The most important day in the last 25 years of the Islanders franchise. Am I overstating matters? No I do not believe so because the organization is at a crossroads (again). After a season the Islanders took a huge step backwards after losing Smyth to Colorado and imploding after 60 games and falling out of the race the team needs to (again) reestablish itself in the eyes of the NHL and its free agents to be. Right now, the top 6 players that are going to be chosen in the draft in most mock drafts -
1 - TAM -Steven Stamkos - C
2 - LAK - Drew Doughty - D
3 - ATL - Zack Bogosian - D
4 - STL - Luke Schenn - D
5- NYI - Nikita Filitov - LW
6 - CLB - Alex Pietrangelo - D
If it goes like this I will be one happy Blogger. Filitov has all the gifts to join the team next season, as long as his much ballyhooed immigration problems are straightened out by then. If you ask me this is the way I see the draft actually going, but we are talking about the Islanders here and anything usually will and does happen. Nothing around the Islanders over their years in existence has been ordinary. Lets all keep our fingers crossed that a certain team from a certain city to our immediate west does not trade ahead of us and take him ahead of us as I have heard around the rumor mill in the last week. I will cross everything I can think of June 20th and hope for the best.
2 - Free Agency is next. Is it time to go for the big fish?- After the draft is settled and we are all really pumped about the teams future or we are standing around with that "we just traded Mcabe and Bertuzzi for who?" looks on our faces it will be time for another period of the off season that has not been kind to us.... EVER. When was the last time the Islanders made a free agent acquisition that really turned some heads? Really let the NHL players know The Islanders mean business. Were not just about talk anymore and we WILL spend money when necessary to improve the team. Marian Hossa is a free agent and it will take a boat load of cash to get him here. You get him, and it instantly makes the team look like they are serious. Pipe dreams aside I know its not going to happen, you know its not going to happen... but what if it does? It is not a great year for free agents and the leagues traditional power brokers will be in play for this one BUT...what if this is the year the Islander outbid the Rangers, Red Wings, Penguins, Leafs and Colorado for a player of his caliber?
3 - Now that we have all come back from dream land lets look at some other forward options. There are some other offensive options out there and some of them make good sense. Some are Micheal Ryder who I would love to see here, Cory Stillman, a left wing who brings a world of experience and would fit nicely next to Guerin and Comrie. Avery... don't laugh now... he got skills and a little.. well ok a LOT of attitude to help this team. Picture Avery donning an Islander uniform and then picture what all of the Ranger fans with "16" jerseys and T shirts would feel for that time they realized their new hero was an Islander. How about Pavol Dimetra? Radim Vrbata? Brian Rolston? As you can see, there are some gems out there that can help this team. Getting a few of them, thats the hard part.
4 - Hey FCT, What about our defense? - Good question. There are a few of those gems out there also. Wade Redden.. Remember him? There is your Defense pipe dream. Let's be honest people thats not happening either but how about some other options. Like Dick Tarnstrom, John-Micheal Liles, Brian Campell and Jason Smith. There are options even though its not a dire team need. Lets hope we can land one of them as I would love to see Liles in our colors.
5 - Goodbye Dubie. Its been fun. Hes going to go elsewhere and all I can say is I wish him well, unless he is playing against us.
Let me hear your thoughts on these and any other matters that need to be discussed. Take care and keep on hoping for the best.