Thursday, March 18, 2010

Looking to the Future

The Islanders are not a "now" team. No one can dispute that. They have become a future team. Its all the Islanders talk or speak about so lets take a moment or two to consider the future.

The Young core of the Islanders is just about in place. With young players succeeding at the NHL level instead of just taking up space for a change. The NHL has transformed into a young players league Chris Chelios not withstanding.

It has become commonplace for 18 and 19 year olds to come directly to the NHL instead of going through their growing pains in the minors or in the juniors. Age is no longer a factor. Its only the matter of if you can play or not whether your 18 or 48.

With John Tavares making strides on not only his offensive game but his total game he will be the cornerstone of making this team a contender. He currently has 20 goals and 41 points which is right on par with what the serious expectations were.

Could we see a next season Steven Stamkos like jump in production for Tavares? Not likely because of the talent around Stamkos outweighs what the Islanders can put out there - at least for now.

The Islanders found 2 jewels this past off season in bringing in Matt Moulson and Rob Schremp. Rob Schremp has the kind of stick handling ability that very few in this league can match. I know that's a bold statement but the only thing keeping this kid from becoming a force in this league is himself. His attitude got him bounced out of Edmonton, a team starving for a star. He so far has been quiet and impressed the heck out of the Islander fans with his skill level.

That is what star players do, keep their mouths shut and let their play do the talking.

Matt Moulson is a guy that came in almost as a courtesy to Tavares as they are friends. Little did we know he would lead the team in goals. Moulson could be a major piece of the Islanders puzzle because every team needs a guy not afraid to go to the nest and collect all of those dirty goals that players can make a career out of.

This off season presents some interesting choices Garth Snow and his crew must wade through. Doug Weight, Jon Sim, Tim Jackman, Richard Park, Freddy Meyer and Martin Biron all are unrestricted free agents and none are likely to be resigned.

That will open up roster spots for some of the Islanders young players who have only gotten cups of NHL coffee.

Free Agency is unlikely once again to net the Islanders any high priced free agents but may yield one or two players to fill some gaps left by the departures listen above if the young players cant fill those roles, and with the little they have provided the Islanders as a group filling the void should not be hard at all.

The 2010 NHL draft has again a nice group of prospects lead by the Windsor Spitfires Taylor Hall who will undoubtedly go number 1.

It is way to early to look at draft order but it would seem the Edmonton Oilers already have the last spot in the NHL locked up and will be the favorites to land the number 1 pick.

The Islanders are right on the brink of getting another lottery pick and should net themselves a very high pick. They currently have 67 points. which puts them right smack in the middle of the 8th and final playoff spot and the second from last Maple Leafs.

The Islanders aren't helping things by their current winning streak but they are still tied with Columbus for the final lottery spot and are very close to Carolina and Florida who are 1 and 2 points behind them respectively.

As I always say if your going to miss the playoffs you may as well miss them big. I hope the Islanders can land themselves in the Draft Lottery and even if they don't still have a shot at another impact player.

The Lighthouse Project still sits in limbo and if we are going to talk about the future of the Islanders then you have to talk about it.

The Town of Hempstead has gone ahead and taken complete control over what can be built there by rezoning the site so that they can put legal limits on what can be built there. There are rumblings that this is the straw that broke the camels back and Charles Wang is going to announce once he has real plans in place to announce her is going to move the team.

Thinking about a possible move logically there are 5 spots that would welcome the Islanders. ( I will not discuss the pros and cons of each for now) They are -

1) Brooklyn. Brett Ratner has broken ground on his Brooklyn Yards project and it is finally moving forward. He has made no bones about the fact that the Islanders would be welcome there.

2) Queens. The Borough of Queens has made it know that not only would they take the Islanders and build a nice new arena near CitiField, but allow Charles Wang to bring the Lighthouse project with him. Of course it would have to be redesigned for the area but they have made it known that they will allow him the leeway the Town of Hempstead will not.

3) Suffolk County (Pilgrim State) there has always been talk of moving the Islanders to the site but this one is the most unlikely.

4) Kansas City. They have an arena and have no tenant. the only way it makes sense is if Wang sells the team and buys out the remaining years on the lease.

5) Las Vegas, Winnipeg, Quebec City, Hamilton. They want a pro hockey team. Will they ever get one? If every other option falls through it is possible.

Obviously options 1-3 would be more favorable because Charles Wang would retain the team and its lucrative cable contract.

Obviously as fans our first preference is to keep the Islanders where they have been their entire existence. The on going battle between The Lighthouse Group and the Town of Hempstead have reached a standstill and anyone that knows anything about Charles Wang he feels as though he has waited long enough.

Please use the comment section to voice your opinions.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Voice has Found our Voice.

It has been a while since I have posted here and this will be the "reboot" of sorts of this blog. Personal issues have prevented me from blogging these past months and I am finally getting to block some time to share the fans thoughts and people there are a lot of thoughts out there. So lets get started with on of the more popular columns in Random Thoughts.

I present 5 Random Thoughts that are being talked about in the world of the New York Islanders. Please use the comment section to voice your opinions on these or any other thoughts as it pertains to the New York Islanders.

1 - Lighthouse? What Lighthouse? They say no news is good news. Not in this case. No news is bad news. The Town oh Hempstead very quietly classified the rezoning of the Lighthouse site so they can point to something and tell Charles Wang what to do with his project. The new regulations limit the square footage of retail and residential space. The rezoning amounts to the Town of Hempstead seizing complete control over something they should have no control over, and thats private enterprise. Kate Murray and her little band of politicians have fired what could be the last salvo in the war over the Nassau Coliseum site.

What has Charles Wang said in response? Nothing. He has repeatedly asked for a yes or a no answer. The Town of Hempstead says maybe. They say change this. change that this is to big. This is to much.

The year is now 2010. The Islanders lease runs out at the end of the 2014-2015 season. That is not a lot of time. It take 2-3 years to move a franchise even after you declare your leaving unless your name is Jim Balsillie.

There are options out there, even local options that would allow the Islanders to keep their cable contract. Brooklyn, Queens and even Suffolk county all would welcome not only the team but Mr. Wang's project and if they are going to have an arena ready for the 2015-16 hockey season, they would have to start those preparations very soon.

2) Progress in Youth - On to the on ice issues. You have got to be impressed with the progress of the Islanders young crop of players. They are 3 games under .500, but only 5 points out of 8th place in the conference. Its March, and the Islanders have something to play for. They will play meaningful games into the spring one year after having the worst record in the NHL. That's progress.

3) John Tavares - Growing pains. We all knew they were coming but the kid has already shown that he belongs in the NHL. Don't compare him to Matt Duchene. John Tavares is playing with players just as wet behind the ears as he is. They will have to grow as a team as Tavares is not going to come into a situation where he has a 50 assist man or a 40 goal scorer on the team. He is doing just fine. I said before the season if he scores 20 goals this season, that is a great start. He has 17 goals to this point and the Islanders have 19 games left.

4 - Where did this guy come from? - There will be people that will say they new Andrew McDonald was going to be a good defenseman in this league. there are bloggers that i share seats with that will tell you he is the cat's meow and they knew all along.

But Come on, who was calling that he would be playing 23 minutes a game this season? He made Brendan Witt expendable and his growth allowed the team to get another draft pick for soon to be free agent Andy Sutton. here comes that word again - progress.

5 - Rick DiPietro - Finished? A lot of fans are saying that our "goalie for life" is finished. They are saying that he will never be the same. They are saying that his knee will never be able to take the rigors of the NHL grind.

Here is a clue for you - The Islanders did not trade Dwayne Roloson. The only way Garth Snow would trade Roloson is if he knew DiPietro were healthy. We all know he isn't. You cant leave the teams slim playoff hopes to a guy that has won 3 games this season and played 2 games in the last 2 months in Biron, and Roloson is signed through next season.

Here is another clue - DiPietro had two full weeks to rest during the Olympic break. He comes back and the first thing his knee does is blow up and swell up. I'm sorry but that is simply not a good sign for an elite athlete.

I have a hunch that if things do not work out in training camp next season that Rick will retire. I hope I am wrong because Rick is a great guy, and extremely talented goaltender and he loves being a part of the Islanders.

I look forward to reading every ones input on these or any other issues.

Its great to be back