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.