The draft is behind us and so is the initial surge in free agent signings. There has been a lull in the free agent market and a few names that could really help the Islanders in the short and long term.
Who is left worth taking a shot on?
Todd Bertuzzi, LW - Why? Size, strength, goal scoring ability and he should come cheap given his penchant for injuries.
What would it take? - 1 year 3 Million.
Alex Tanguay, LW- Here is a guy that I cannot believe is still available. Either his agent is asking for stupid high money or general managers are scared of his injuries the last two seasons. Tanguay is still young at 29 has great play making ability and can score. Snow should go after him.
What would it take? - 5 years 24 million.
Travis Moen, LW/RW - Banging forward that can skate. Energy guy with an edge. What would it take?
2 years 2.2 million.
Nick Boynton, D - The Islanders have some depth at D but Boynton may be coming into his own at 29. Eats minutes and is reliable in his own end.
Beyond these guys, there isn't much that's attractive out there or should I say suits the Islanders. Playing GM for a minute I would offer contracts to Bertuzzi and Moen and test the water with Tanguay.
Looking forward to the season the Islanders aren't expected to do much. This is where I am going to disagree with the people and there are a lot of them who will predict the Islanders to finish at or near the bottom of the NHL again.
I am not predicting the Islanders to make a miracle playoff run here but I think challenging for one is not out of reach. The main reason for this is simple -
Golatending - Dwayne Roloson. Say what you want about Roloson's age but the fact of the matter is he is an excellent goaltender and does not have a lot of miles on him. He has backstopped Edmonton to respectability in recent years after coming into prominence with the Wild. Roloson will bring stability to the Islanders in net whether Dipietro is ready or not and will play to a 2.80 Goals against and a .915 save percentage.
Yan Danis and Joey McDonald last season were just fill ins in a lost season and this season Roloson changes all that. The Islanders do not have a question mark in net anymore.
Depth at Goaltender -
1. Dwayne Roloson
2. Rick DiPietro
3. Scott Munroe
Defense - When Healthy the Islanders ice a good to very good defense core.
We all marveled at the skills of Mark Streit last season and he will be the centerpiece of the Islanders defense again.
Brendan Witt and Andy Sutton will provide the crease clearing hard nosed presence.
Oft injured Radek Martinek can be a serviceable defenseman if he can manage to stay healthy. It remains to e seen whether Freddy Meyer and Bruno Gervais can hack the NHL level as last year was a step back for Gervais. One more addition through the free agent market would be wise.
Defense Depth Chart -
1 - Mark Streit
2 - Brendan Witt
3 - Andy Sutton
4 - Radek Martinek
5 - Bruno Gervais
6 - Jack Hillen
7 - Freddy Meyer
8 - Andrew McDonald
At Center, the Islander Roster is set. Doug Weight will provide the veteran leadership.
John Tavares and Josh Bailey are the 2nd and 3rd line centers unless someone switches to wing. If someone does switch to wing then another acquisition would be warranted at the center position because the health of Doug Weight is an issue.
Frans Nielson could be the wild card as he has show flashes of offensive skill and only extended ice time will reveal whether he will be a main stay or just another fill in player.
Depth Chart -
1 - Doug Weight
2 - John Tavares
3 - Josh Bailey
4 - Frans Nielsen
5 - Nate Thompson
At Wing, the Islanders have some exciting prospects. Kyle Okposo is still just that, a prospect. This could be the year he blossoms getting a full season playing with natural play makers Josh Bailey or Doug Weight.
Its also make or break time for Sean Bergenheim. Either he turns into the offensive threat he has hinted at or its time to move on.
The same can be said for Jeff Tambelini who has been a major disappointment at the NHL level.
Veteran Trent Hunter, who is a favorite to become the team captain will be back to provide his usual 15-20 goals.
I really liked what I saw out of 6'4" Jesse Joensuu last season and he should start the season on the Islanders unless he tanks in camp.
Trevor Smith, Richard Park and Tim Jackman round out the bangers and grinders.
Joel Rechlicz is Snow's chosen one to be the protector of the future of this team in Bailey, Okposo and Tavares. Hopefully he will be up the task as he will be tested. Tim Jackman can provide support,m but he is not a heavyweight.
Blake Comeau started the season in Scott Gordon's doghouse last year and quickly whipped himself into shape making himself valuable again.
It is the Winger position, take your pick of LW and RW where the Islanders need the most help. Add one or two of the names above in the free agent section and maybe you have got a team that can contend for a playoff spot.
Depth Chart -
1 - Kyle Okposo
2 - Trent Hunter
3 - Sean Bergenhiem
4 - Blake Comeau
5 - Jesse Joensuu
6 - Jeff Tambelini
7 - Richard Park
8 - Tim Jackman
9 - Joel Rechlicz
As you can see the winger position is by far the Islanders weak link. Sign Tanguay and Bertuzzi that gives you play making ability from the wing, goal scoring from the wing and size to clear some room for the skilled centers.
Whether the Islanders can or will do this is any ones guess but I would love to hear the fans thoughts.