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30 Teams in 30 Days - New York Islanders Written by habsfan93 - September 6th, 2009

Over the course of 30 days, yours truly is going to take a look at each team in the league, examine their off-season moves, assess the biggest issue facing the team, highlight a player or two to watch for, and finally give an outlook on the season.

Next up, the New York Islanders.

New York Islanders
Season 5: 35-36-10-1 (9th East, 3rd Atlantic)
GM: Moll (3rd Season)

Currently Projected Season 6 Roster:
(Incoming Player in Bold, Rookies in Italics)

Kovalchuk - Tkachuk - Perry
Ryan - Horton - Ryder
Chimera - Berglund - Clark
Miller - Fraser - Crabb

Foote - T. Kaberle
Visnovsky - White
Wisniewski
- Oduya

Kiprusoff
Hiller

What They Did In The Off-Season:

The Islanders missed the playoffs in Season 5, just one year after hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup. As a result, GM Moll and the Islanders have been very active this summer. The team started by resigning all of their key RFAs, as well as keeping UFA Lubomir Visnovsky off the open market. Visnovsky spent the year in the minors last year, and although he was initially upset about the decision, many pundits believe that the move has given him serious motivation to bring his Pro game to the next level and return to All-Star form. The Islanders clearly also believe this as they gave Visnovsky a 4-year deal.

The Islanders were very active on the trade front, particularly before the draft as GM Moll seemed anxious to get his roster back into shape. Players like Ryane Clowe, Chris Drury, Samuel Pahlsson, Ron Hainsey, and Tomas Vokoun were dealt in what could be described as a complete overhaul of the roster. At forward, only the first line remains to lead the way. Kovalchuk is coming off a disappointing year in which he scored only 29 goals, by far the lowest total of his career. But he also recorded 65 assists, 1 shy of his career record, while Tkachuk had an all-around good year. One would expect that this is Tkachuk's final year with the Islanders, and possibly in the CMHL. At 37 years old, the 2-time All-Star's best days are behind him and his massive $7,200,000 contract expires at the end of the season. Finally, Corey Perry had his best season to date, and many expect Season 6 to be even better.

While the first line remains, the entire supporting cast at forward has changed. Nathan Horton was brought in on the Drury trade. Horton is a career underachiever who finally showed signs of being an elite playmaker last year. Michael Ryder is a solid 50-point player, but the real gem of the 2nd line could be Bobby Ryan. Although not a rookie (Ryan played 44 games for Calgary in Season 3), after 2 years in Bridgeport, Ryan is primed and ready for a big year and he and Weiss together could catapult to stardom in Season 6.

Just after the draft, the Islanders decided that Tomas Vokoun was not the man to lead the way, and they traded him to the Predators for Miikka Kiprusoff. Kiprusoff, who was one of the better goalies in the CMHL, had a tough year in Season 5, and the Islanders are hoping he can regain the form he had when he nearly single-handedly won the Devils the Stanley Cup in Season 3.

At the Entry Draft, the Islanders held the 30th pick, where they selected forward Kyle Palmieri. They went on to make 6 more picks, including Chris Brown and Igor Bobkov in the 2nd round. After a 2008 draft in which the Islanders held several dozen late round picks, the Islanders now have a very deep pool of prospects, although one might say it is lacking in impact players. Finally, in Free Agency, the Islanders were busy. They signed Joey Crabb to a 3-year deal. Crabb is a defensively minded forward, who should find a spot on the Isles 4th line. The Isles really liked Jason Chimera and gave him a 2-year deal at a price that many GM's would call serious overpayment. Nevertheless, he will fit in well on the 3rd or 4th line. Finally, the Isles signed Darcy Hordichuk and Andy Greene. Both players will likely start the year in the minors, but could see action as first call-ups in case of injuries.

Biggest Issue Facing the Team:

Salary. Although the Mike Smith is arguably a better backup goalie than Jonas Hiller, keeping him, and his $2,200,000 salary on the roster puts the Islanders too close to the Salary Cap for comfort. Hiller's $600,000 contract opens up a lot of room for the Islanders by comparison, and gives them the flexibility needed during the season to call up players. But there is little to no room for this team to take on additional salary in a trade.

Lack of intensity and defence at forward. The Islanders, at first glance, are not a strong checking, defensive team. They seem to have opted to run with a more offensive 3rd line than most teams would attempt to go with. A guy like Patrik Berglund is better suited to a 2nd line role. This may work well against weaker teams, however against the league's heavyweights, look for this weakness to be exploited.

Player To Watch:

Lubomir Visnovsky - The Islanders acquired Visnovsky in December for a 2nd round pick. This may turn out to be an absolute steal. After a year in the minors to regain his form, Visnovsky should easily return to 40 point form, and  given lots of ice time on the power play, could in fact see himself in the top 10 among defencemen in scoring. In fact, I would be shocked if he wasn't there at the end of Season 6.

Season 6 Outlook:

The Islanders just missed the playoffs last year. The Atlantic Division is interesting in that there is no clear front-runner team. No team rises above the pack. So much like the Devils (covered yesterday), the Islanders have an equal shot at first and last in the division. The Islanders are counting on a return to form for numerous key players. Kovalchuk, Kiprusoff, VIsnovsky - all these players played well below expectation last year. If things go right for this team, if Bobby Ryan truly breaks out and scores 40+ goals, and the players mentioned all return to form - the Islanders could very well be a front-runner for the division.

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Comments:

Ya I pretty much gave Visnovsky away, what the hell was I thinking.

Written By: StajanFan (2009-09-06 19:22:56)

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