Sunday, January 23, 2011

New York Islanders: State of the Franchise

We have passed the midway point of the NHL regular season and the Islanders are plugging away near the bottom of the NHL standings once again.

That is not shocking to a lot of people. It is shocking to the Islander fans who are a group that have been the NHL's equivalent of the guy you keep playing the same joke on at the annual Christmas party and he keeps falling for it hook line and sinker.

The reasons we keep falling for the same joke is simple. We want so bad to believe that the Islanders can be an NHL power again. We root for this team and go to the games and watch the team so closely that we can taste that successful campaign when the season begins.

We all hear The Hockey News, TSN, ESPN, Newsday and local radio and everyone else tell us that the Islanders will be near the bottom of the heap if things go bad and maybe challenge for a playoff spot if things go perfect.

Well this season things did not go perfect. They went south before the first puck was dropped on this season. Injuries absolutely decimated this team over the first half of the season.

The injuries were so bad at one point that the Islanders defense, on paper one of the deepest in the NHL had 4 AHL call ups playing on the team at once.

So here the Islanders sit at the bottom of the league again even though it is mostly not any ones fault but fate.

Steady Dwayne Roloson and arguably the Islanders best player this season in James Wisniewski were traded away for draft picks and prospects.

The Islanders seasons over the past few years failures can all be traced to one thing. Bad streaks. Injuries lead to inconsistency. Inconsistency leads to losses. Many of them.

Islanders GM Garth Snow did a good job of shoring up the Islanders defense this season because he knew if he got the goals against down, it would equal less losses. Injuries took care of that plus.

Then comes the puzzling move of claiming Russian goaltender and in my mind the immensely over-rated Evgeni Nabokov who signed a deal with Detroit.

Nabokov is 35 years old and ran to the KHL for big bucks and wowed absolutely no one with his awful goals against average and save percentage in what everyone would agree is an inferior league to the NHL.

Why claim him at all? For what purpose?

IS he the kind of goaltender that's gonna rattle off 15 straight wins for the Islanders and get us back int he playoff hunt?

This isn't Dominik Hasek circa 2000.

Nabokov's NHL numbers are impressive at the NHL level. But he seriously hurt his credibility going to the KHL and stinking up the joint.

Now that the claim has been made Nabokov has refused to report to the Islanders.

That's where my problem with Nabokov grows beyond him just being a poor playoff goaltender.

You have to play by the rules. The rules state that is you play in any professional league other than the NHL you have to pass through waivers before the signing team has you.

If a team below wants that player you have to be prepared to lose him.

Remember Wade Dubliewicz? No one complained when the Blue Jackets claimed him off waivers when the Islanders tried to bring him back after Dubie went to the KHL.

Its part of the process.

Players can't be free to cash in from the KHL and just come in and sign with who they want for pennies for the hopes of winning a cup.

Nabokov chose to go the KHL. Now he has to deal with the consequences.

If I am Garth Snow what I do is this.

The Islanders have the right to hold his contract until next season. In other words if he doesn't play out his player contract that he signed with the Red Wings, he can become the Islanders property for all of next season at the same contract dollar amount.

After Nabokov (inadvertently or not) hangs up on his new general manager you can bet the Islanders are not going to just rescind their claim.

Jack Capuano has done a decent job as the new head coach of the Islanders but that "interim" tag hangs above his head like a guillotine.

I highly doubt the Islanders go after a big name coach.

I would expect that unless the Islanders totally tank the last part of the season that Capuano gets extended for a year to see what he can do with a healthy roster next season.

Five questions that need to be answered -

1) John Tavares will be entering the final year of his 3 year entry deal next season.Here is a guy you have made the centerpiece of your rebuild. Do you offer one of those long term mega deals like Mike Richards has?

2) Matt Moulson still has not been signed to an extension. Will he be moved out before the trade deadline?

3) Do you sign Jack Capuano to an extension?

4) Rick DiPietro's come back has had mixed results. Is there any chance of a buy out?

5) The Lighthouse Project is dead. We all know that. The Islanders lease is up at the end of the 2014-15 season. Which means that a deal on a new arena will have to be reached this summer for the arena to be completed by then. In maybe the most important question of them all - Will we have a deal for a new arena in place before next season?

Voice your opinion below in the comments section.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New York Islanders: Transaction Evaluations and Reactions

Its been one week since the end of 2010 and the Islanders continue to shape their roster for this season and next.

The Islanders traded defenseman and leading point producing James Wisniewski to the Montreal Canadiens for a couple of draft picks.

Snow, striking while the iron was hot also traded Goaltender Dwayne Roloson to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 6'4" 230 pound defensive prospect Ty Wishart.

Then a mild positive pleasant surprise happened. Snow managed to sign defenseman Milan Jurcina to a one year contract extension.

What does this tell us?

It tells us that Wisniewski could not come to terms with the Islanders and wanted to move on or cash in big time.

I was convinced that Snow would move Jurcina out for more draft picks and was proven wrong.

Jurcina has been a steadying presence on the Islander blue line when he has been healthy and his signing is a very positive thing because it shows that Snow is thinking about building for next season and already knows this season has been lost to injury.

We can talk about Streit and Oksposo until we are blue in the face, but injuries to Comeau, Bailey, Jurcina, MacDonald, Mottau and Doug Weight are what killed this season for the Islanders.

You can't blame injuries? To bad. I am blaming injuries.

I will go to the grave saying that this seasons Islanders if they would have maintained any assemblance of health would have made the playoffs.

What other changes are coming to the Islanders line up?

Snow is not waiting for the off season to try and sign the players he wants to stay for next year and that is a very smart strategy. The only thing that happens when you wait unless you are the New York Yankees is someone will come along with more money and years.

You lock them up now by offering security and a raise and look at that, there is a chance you will get someone to sign.

When a player has 4 or 5 offers in front of him for similar money and years the Islanders are just not going to win that battle.

The next target for Snow should be to lock up Moulson who is going to command a multi year obligation.

Get him signed now or trade him before the deadline.

It does no one any good to lose a player like Moulson for nothing which is exactly what fueled the Wisniewski trade.

I am sure Snow tried to get "The Wiz" under contract on another 1 year deal but he is definitely going to want some multi year security after having a career season this year.

Roloson is a player that will be on a 1 year deal for however long he chooses to play and the Islanders are already all but out of the playoff hunt so adding another defensive prospect was a good idea.

Other unrestricted free agents on the Islanders right now are - Matt Moulson, Doug Weight, Radek Martinek, Zenon Konopka, Jon Sim, PA Parenteau and Trevor Gillies.

The player out of the group I would work on signing to extensions right now is Moulson.

Everyone else will not be back or should not be back.

Voice your opinions below.