Well this is a waste of time.
It would appear the New York Islanders didn’t really have a Plan B if John Tavares left. Their hook-and-lateral was to hire Lou Lamiorello to somehow convince JT that they really meant it this time. Now with him off to Toronto, Lou is free to fistfuck this team into oblivion because the game passed him by at least seven years ago and he hates pretty much every player in the league. They’re going to split time with this dreck between Nassau and Brooklyn, as the two communities try and foist this team off on each other in a real, “Hmm, this sauce tastes like shit here try it,” kind of fashion. This is Mathew Bartzal and his misspelled first name and opening band roadies.
There just isn’t much here, so let’s get through it quickly so we don’t get infected.
Goalies: This has been a bugaboo for the Islanders for a while, and it doesn’t appear to have gotten much better. Thomas Greiss has finally wrangled the full-time starting role from the departed Jaro Halak. Well, he didn’t take it so much as Halak got old, was allowed to leave, and Greiss was just about the only person around to clean up the mess. He was at .892 last year, which REEL BAD. Greiss has flashed being NHL starting-quality before, posting years of .913 or .925 the previous two campaigns while splitting time with Halak. But it would seem to be a longshot that he’s going to star in the role.
He could be easily usurped by Robin Lehner. Lehner certainly had his troubles in Buffalo, but if he’s past those he has flashed being a plus-starter before in both Ottawa and Buffalo. You certainly are rooting for him, and there isn’t much here to keep him from the crease unless Greiss goes off in an unpredictable fashion. Neither would seem to provide enough to cause the Islanders to surprise, however.
Defense: Oooh boy. This is still an outfit that’s going to toss Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk out as a top pairing, when both are most certainly second pairing players. The hope will be that Scott Mayfield, Ryan Pulock, and Adam Pelech (and don’t worry if you transpose Pulock and Pelech, You wouldn’t be the first), make THE LEAP. Pulock might be the real keeper of the group, as he was the most dominant possession player they had last season.
It actually could be a nifty unit if two of the three kids can take the biggest responsibilities off of Leddy and Boychuk, who simply have never been up to it. That seems like a big ask of three neophytes who were restricted to second and third pairing duty last year. Also, Thomas Hickey is here to dutifully man the second pairing puck-moving role, as he’ll be doing for the next 45 years it feels like. Hickey is one of those players who define the word, “fine.”
Forwards: It was only natural that as soon as he took the seat in the office wherever the Isles deign to place it these days, Nosferatu Lamiorello saw fit to bring in Matt Martin in a glorious return to New York to get mistaken for Jacob deGrom. He also brought in Leo Komarov to provide…well, a dude who smells bad on the bottom six. Those are basically the only additions to a team that lost John Tavares and still finished with only 80 points last year.
The top six will actually be ok in Tavares’s absence. Barzal will slide up to the top line, and he’s most certainly capable of shouldering that. Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvillier are certainly dynamic, shifty wingers who make things happen. Anders Lee will score no matter what, it’s just a matter of whether you should give a shit or not. Brock Nelson will slide back to center, which isn’t his best spot but it’ll do. Josh Bailey has been a sneaky good winger for about five seasons now. You can do worse than that.
But this bottom six…WOOF. The aforementioned Martin and Komarov are going to be a waste of everyone’s time. Cal Clusterfuck is the wrong side of 30 and those who play that kind of style do not age well. Cizikas started to back up last year, and again bottom line centers don’t age well even if he’s only going to be 28. Andrew Ladd died three years ago. Barzal and Nelson are going to have to freak the fuck off this year or the Islanders simply won’t score.
Outlook: Even with Barry Trotz parachuting in here like a neckless Mighty Mouse, they’re up against it. As stated, this was an 80-point team last year that lost one of the best centers in the game and didn’t add much. The goaltending solidifying would be a big help and there’s a chance that could happen, but they look awfully short all over the ice. It’s a rebuilding year, and the goal of the year might be flogging Eberle, Nelson, and Lee at the deadline for whatever can be found. If they can’t be built around, that is. It’s going to be a long year, wherever the Isles call home.
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