Before the great staff here at Isles Talk in the coming days dissect the individual players that made the 2012-2013 New York Islanders, I wanted to first take a short look back at the organization as a whole and reminisce for a brief moment while at the same time look forward towards the future of this franchise and it’s minor league affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Now I know this is late, but there’s a method to my madness in bringing out such a late piece. Nevertheless it’s necessary to explain the overall picture of what may need to be done to this great organization. Armchair GM’s…..get ready!
Let me first start off that the beginning to this overall season flat out stunk. Hockey did not start on time and quite frankly it was very annoying to say the least. Having said that, the lockout may have been the best thing to happen to the Islanders as a whole because it gave younger players the necessary seasoning they needed at Bridgeport and there was no signs of rushing the young prospects. To add further, the waiver wire pickups by Islanders GM Garth Snow before the NHL season began reaffirmed that the prospects would stay in the minors and develop properly.
As far as reviewing the season, it really does not have to be a long write up. The season was shorter, the Islanders were streaky and when the season was ending, the Islanders got hot and made an unbelievable run into the playoffs. This after no one expected anything from them except for another lottery pick. The Islanders players all believed in themselves and in turn made believers out of the rest of the hockey world and gave their fans something to believe in once again. In the playoffs, they restored pride, respect, hope and most important: expectations for next year.
No moving forward. I’m going to be honest. I’ve always loved research, it’s in my field and it does get boring, but I love it. To me the playoffs are just that, research. It tells me where the Islanders really are in the standings and after watching intently the last few weeks, I can sit here now and write that the Islanders are better than the 8th place finish they ended up in. The New York Rangers look like a team in their twilight years, while the Ottawa Senators look like a stable organization for a few years. There’s no question now that the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins are the top two teams in this Eastern Conference, but what needs to be done to improve the Islanders?
Offensively, not much really. They finished 7th in the NHL in scoring this season. Because of the proper development of the prospects, I would not be surprised if some win roster spots or get called up during the middle of the season. So for me, as long as no one gets traded and players like Josh Bailey get resigned, the Islanders offense will be stacked for a few years.
The defense came together towards the end of season and there looked to be some good chemistry. Depending on where Islanders management feel about Calvin DeHaan, Matt Donovan and Griffin Reinhardt will determine if the Isles make any major moves to the defensive corps. One thing should be done soon and that is an extension to Travis Hamonic. After that, we’ll see.
Goaltending is not a question, it’s a great mystery. Nabokov got the Isles into the playoffs, no question. Can he do it for another year at a full schedule? I like Poulin as the backup, but not yet a starter. Nilsson needs a full Sound Tiger season to see future potential.
I love the draft, always have. I’ve stated this before, I’m a big fan of teams winning through the draft, which is why I’m excited for this teams future. I also like the quiet yet significant trades that are made to help improve the team around draft time.
Looking to next season, the Isles have an opportunity to improve even further than what they accomplished this year. If the prospects from Bridgeport are ready for the NHL, I would be content with a quiet summer. For me, goaltending will be a focus in the summer. I don’t think the Islanders need to make drastic changes because of what I’ve been witnessing in the playoffs. Having said that, in the near future the staff here at Isles Talk will go over each of the players and then you, the fans, can decide for yourselves what you think Garth Snow should do.
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