Ah, it’s that time of year again Islanders fans. Welcome back for the 2013-1014 Islanders season. It’s always a pleasure working with Gary, John & Toby here at Isles Talk and I look forward to our future writing endeavors. Speaking of the future, I have the fun task of previewing the Islanders forwards for this upcoming season, so without further adieu, let’s take a closer look at your future 2013-1014 New York Islanders.
Additions: RW Cal Clutterbuck, C Peter Regin, RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Subtractions: C Keith Aucoin, C Marty Reasoner, RW Brad Boyes, F David Ullstrom
Just getting rid of Reasoner would have made every Isles fan happy had nothing else happened. Ullstrom decided to play in Europe; Aucoin got a well deserved contract in St. Louis and Brad Boyes has yet to receive a contract. Bottom line: This was just a simple addition by subtraction summer for the Isles, but who they added to the roster is what I’ll discuss next.
For now, in keeping with what Islanders GM Garth Snow did last year, having his younger core down in Bridgeport for the sake of development, these are my projected lines for the upcoming season:
Moulson, Tavares, Bouchard
Stick with what I know right? Fans and other teams know what to expect from Moulson and Tavares but Bouchard, when healthy, can really produce. From fans I’ve talked to in Minnesota, the system didn’t work because there were not enough speedy players and/or finishers on their team. The Islanders have both. Look for Bouchard to fit right in and possibly have a career year. 15+ goals 50 assists for 65+ points with at least a +2 rating. Moulson should be near his 30 goals/year and Tavares will make another run for the Hart Trophy.
Bailey, Neilsen, Okposo
This is no longer an “X Factor” or “Islanders need to step up” line. Fans and other teams know what Josh Bailey can do and, when you get him mad, Kyle Okposo can take over a game. Just ask Pittsburgh. No more slow starts or scoring droughts. Bailey & Okposo should be 20+ goals while Neilsen really should make it a goal to go after the Selke Trophy this year as the NHL’s best defensive forward.
Grabner, Regin, Clutterbuck
Because the recent playoff push the Islanders made last year, the top two lines will be under the most pressure from other teams. That makes this line all that important. Grabner should continue his 25+ goals a year along with his gifted penalty killing/breakaway speed while Cal Clutterbuck, a former Minnesota favorite will keep the opposing players honest. The greatest compliment he received by the fans was that they told me he can not only play the physical game, but he plays it clean! A bounce back year could have him at 12-15 goals, 15 assists for 27-30 pts. Hits? As long as he’s in the top 5 and keeps them clean, I’m happy.
The actual dark horse on this roster is Regin. Many Sens fans have told me that he’s not a bad player at all it’s just that there really wasn’t a place for him, especially with some of the younger prospects stepping up. Regin is fast, so putting him on a line with Grabner is a plus and is also good defensively. Simply put, he’s your third line Frans Neilsen. For Regin: 12-15 goals, 25-30 assists for 27-45 points.
McDonald, Cizikas, Martin, Boulton
To see this line for a full season will be nothing short of a treat for Isles fans. I would like to see Martin score more, maybe get closer to 10 goals. McDonald should just continue his game and he’ll improve and Cizikas should avoid a sophomore slump. Boulton will do what’s asked of him, that’s what you want. Either way, this line will be ready to compete night in and night out.
If teams think that if they just stop John Tavares you stop the Islanders, they’re dead wrong. I did not even mention Brock Nelson or Ryan Strome because for now, they’re the talented depth the Islanders need to stay competitive. They will get a quality shot at training camp, but they must now earn their spots. This team is loaded on all four lines. Everyone knows their roles. The key is to stay healthy & consistent because 82 games is a lot longer than 48. Look for solid scoring of 215-225 goals just from the offense alone.
Questions, comments or concerns in the comment section please. Welcome back Isles fans. Don’t forget to follow me @Netminder39.