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2010-11 NHL Previews: New York Islanders

| by Sports Nickel

2009-10 RECORD:
34-37-11/79 pts
4th in Atlantic Division
13th in Eastern Conference
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GM: Garth Snow
COACH: Scott Gordon
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2010-11 PAYROLL:
$44,776,650 ($19.0M below cap)

Life on the Island will be very interesting this season. On paper, the nucleus seems to be very promising but unreliable. Franchise center John Tavares made an immediate impact and is easily the team’s best player but it takes more than one guy to make it happen. If Tavares does further develop he must get help from his projected line mates Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo. Okposo should bring his A game this year but Moulson will be the big question. Up until last year, Moulson was a career minor leaguer but found a way to crack the “big “ team line-up. He was a grand surprise and even led the team in goals with 30. “Project Tavares” will rely heavily on whether Moulson can build on what he did last year.

Goaltender Rick DiPietro has an All-Star swagger and when healthy has actually played in an All-Star Game, but injuries to the hip and knee have limited the “franchise” net minder to just 13 games over the last 2 seasons. Reports from Islander camp have been promising for DiPietro this month and there is a good chance he will be ready for the season. If another health setback comes into play, 40-year-old Dwayne Roloson will be the man between the pipes on the opening night. While Roloson was admirable last season, he has never been a consistent stopper and his age makes him double the risk

General Manager Garth Snow made a few nice additions on the blue line with the acquisitions of veteran d-men James Wisniewski and Mark Eaton. Eaton played in all 24 Pittsburgh Penguin playoff games during their victorious 2009 Stanley Cup campaign and along with his effective shot blocking ability he brings championship knowledge to a locker room that has lacked that attitude for nearly 3 decades. Wisniewski is a personal favorite of mine. Along with a touch of offensive flare, Wiz brings the aggression on each and every shift. Though he doesn’t drop’em like he used he can get’em up and is very effective in the odd tussle.

Again, the Islanders probably are a few years away from really making waves in the league but if their youngsters can make a few unexpected leaps they just might make the playoffs. After all, they were only nine points out of it last year.

# POS Name Height Weight Age
12 F Josh Bailey 6′ 1″ 201 20
57 F Blake Comeau 6′ 0″ 198 24
14 F Trevor Gillies 6′ 3″ 227 31
7 F Trent Hunter 6′ 3″ 217 30
28 F Zenon Konopka 6′ 0″ 209 29
17 F Matt Martin 6′ 3″ 210 21
26 F Matt Moulson 6′ 1″ 210 26
25 F Nino Niederreiter 6′ 2″ 205 18
51 F Frans Nielsen 6′ 0″ 187 26
21 F Kyle Okposo 5′ 10″ 210 22
15 F PA Parenteau 6′ 0″ 198 27
44 F Rob Schremp 5′ 10″ 184 24
16 F Jon Sim 5′ 10″ 189 32
91 F John Tavares 6′ 0″ 202 20
93 F Doug Weight 5′ 11″ 202 39
4 D Mark Eaton 6′ 1″ 214 33
8 D Bruno Gervais 6′ 1″ 200 25
38 D Jack Hillen 5′ 10″ 190 24
27 D Milan Jurcina 6′ 4″ 240 27
47 D Andrew MacDonald 6′ 1″ 201 24
24 D Radek Martinek 6′ 2″ 210 34
2 D Mark Streit 5′ 11″ 202 32
20 D James Wisniewski 5′ 11″ 208 26
39 G Rick DiPietro 6′ 1″ 190 29
30 G Dwayne Roloson 6′ 1″ 170 40

MOST IMPORTANT COG IN 2010: John Tavares (center) — I know I mentioned that this kid is going to need some support to get to that Superstar “Next” level but a lot of people feel that he can reach that Crosby, Ovechkin type status. You know, elite top five player in the world. In order for this to happen he is going to have to do what all great players do best; make his teammates better. He has already displayed this valuable intangible in the case of Matt Moulson. Moulson went from career AHLer to 30 goal NHL scorer virtually overnight and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it happened at the same time Tavares showed up. It’s because Tavares has an amazing skill set that incorporates all the tools needed to be a teammate enhancer. He has wonderful, imaginative vision, a superb hockey IQ and his lust to win makes him a bit of a red-ass. By red-ass I mean he will not allow his teammates to skate at half speed. He will get in their face in the locker room. For a kid his age to have that type of initiative is astounding. This kid is special.

 

 

 

KEY ACQUISITION: Zenon Konopka (C – FA from Tampa Bay) — This guy was born to play for Coach Gordon. One thing you could say about the Isle last year was that they never quit mid-game no matter what the score and Gordon was a hug part of that philosophy. Enter “Kono”. This guy never quits and takes pride in every shift his coach gives him. With 33 fight majors he led the NHL last season this was due in large part to Tampa Bay not dressing true enforcer on most nights. Being the great team guy he is, Kono took it upon himself to defend his skilled teammates, yep all 6’0, 211 pounds of him. That’s the beauty thing about this guy, he doesn’t think of himself as a smaller fellow and his physical play shows that. Aside from his tough, team first approach he is an excellent face-off guy and has a knack for playing on the penalty kill which gives the Isle decent depth at the center spot. Though he will probably never be a 20-goal scorer he is the type of player that a team needs while establishing  character, a playoff spot and maybe even a couple series victory’s.

KEY DEPARTURE: Brenden Witt (D- FA to Ottawa) — With his physical play and defensive astuteness Witt was a Long Island favorite from the moment he put on an Isle sweater back in 2006 but this is a business and at an aging 35 years of age Witt was not worth the 3 million a year he was signed for. So, the Islanders bought him out. It is always hard to replace the type of respect and veteran leadership that Witt commanded in the locker room and on the ice but I do think that Snow had these attributes in mind when he brought in Wisnieski. Witt will be missed by the fans more than anything simply because his subtraction gives the youth movement more wiggle room and after a few games even the fans will realize this.

KEY YOUNGSTER: Matt Martin (LW/21 years old) — The one concern about Martin last year in Bridgeport (NY’s AHL affiliate) was that he was too scrawny to play in the NHL and the beef that he did have was baby fat. He had just enough natural talent to play his game, a banger with a scoring touch, at a decent level in the minors. Well, after some off-season hard work, Martin showed up to training camp with 10 extra pounds of muscle and none of that baby fat and a few days ago Islanders management confirmed that Martin will start the season out with the big club. The blueprint on Martin is that of a prototypical power forward. He hits, fights and appears to have great upside with lighting the lamp. The role he plans to fill is vital for an NHL team.

OUTLOOK: Though there is a ton of promising aspects to this team and the future does look bright there are just too many factors that need to work out all at that same time in order for this team to make a playoff appearance…

FINAL PREDICTION:

  • 35 wins
  • 80 points
  • 4th in the Atlantic/11th in the Eastern Conference

2010-11 NHL Previews: New York Islanders is a post originally from: SportsNickel.com - In Sports We Trust

 

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