Islanders 2009-2010 preseason

Dragoneye's picture

Please welcome your 2008 - 2009 - 2010 New York Islanders.  I could understand your confusion if you thought this was last years squad as there haven't been many changes in the personnel that landed the Islanders last place overall in the league and the first draft pick in the 2009 draft.  Some of the moves they did make in the off-season might make you scratch your head a bit too.

One move that came as a HUGE relief to the Islanders fan base was the drafting of teenage phenom John Tavares (JT).  Please watch my video of the draft party and experience that relief with about 10,000 fans who were at the Nassau Coliseum.  Isles GM Garth Snow kept his choice a secret down to the last minute and given the teams track record for making a splash, noone could have predicted what the team was going to do. 

 

The Draft:

The Isles pulled some draft day maneuvering, using the multitude of picks they had been hoarding from previous trades to move up in the 2009 draft.  They began the day with 11 picks and traded up

Curiously, in a move that shocked many including the player, with the # 12 pick they drafted Calvin De Haan, a puck moving defenseman that played with John Tavares for the London Knights.  These Wang/Snow led Islanders are sticking to their rebuilding process and are taking the players that are high on their charts regardless of what others think.  Snow has been given the opportunity to pick the players he wants and also given the time to see it out.  

Only time will tell if 2008's trading down and this years trading up were the best moves for the Islanders.  The fan base is still alive and kicking as evidence by the draft day party, but they have been through a lot since the end of the dynasty over 20 years ago and are torn between trying to win now and rebuild.  At least they haven't been trading their young talent away to perennially squeeze into the playoffs at the #8 seed just to loose in round 1 and then see those players develop into superstars elsewhere.  If improvement isn't seen this year hopwever, Snow and coach Gordon will be on thin ice. 

Goaltending Future?:

The Islanders chose golatenders with their 2nd and 3rd round picks.  This sent out clear signals that oft injured Rick DiPietro won't be ready to begin the season, this after sitting out nearly the entire 2008-2009 season recovering from and having more surgeries on his knee and hip.  The former all-star and number one pick is at the crossroads of his career.  This only 3 years after signing a 15 year, 67.5 million dollar contract. If he can't get healthy this year and show he still has something left his career is in serious jeapardy.

Goaltending Now:

Could it be possible that having ex-goalies at coach and GM helped create this situation?  Part two of the goalie saga is that the Isles signed two #1 goalies in the free agent market, Martin Biron from the Flyers and Dwayne Roloson from the Oilers.  The front office hasn't been exactly forthcoming about the status of DiPietro, but if the draft and free agent signings say anything, it is that they are preparing for life beyond "The Rick" well short of the completion of his contract. 

Depth:

The Islanders lack of true top 6 offensive talents and top 4 defensemen will again keep them struggling to score.  Some players, like Richard Park and Andy Hilbert did last year, will be forced to play over their head on the 1st and 2nd line and also on top power plays lines.  

Key players:

Kyle Okposo (KO) - Out with a concussion from a preseason game right now, his development is critical for the Islanders to make the step out of the cellar.  He was getting better all season last year and the team expects mor eprogress, and about 25 goals from him this year.

Josh Bailey - A solid and improving 2009 will go a long way toward Josh establishing himself as a true top 6 forward.  He has clicked a bit with KO in the past and will get the ice time to prove himself this year. 

Mark Streit - Last summer the Islanders made arguably the best signing, taking a 4 year risk on Streit.  He went from playing wing and D with the Canadians to becoming the best playerand a solid full time defenseman on the Islanders.  He will need to prove last season wasn't a fluke and that he really is the best player on this team.

Key Additions:

John Tavares - The Islanders will try to ease him into the NHL but make no mistake, the Islanders fortunes lay heavily on this youngsters back.  If he can contribute like he did in the OHL at the NHL level expect the Islanders to improve significantly and be a more fun team to watch.

The Departed::

Last season saw Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie, and Chris Campoli traded.  Out of the 3 the only real loss was Campoli, who had grown up in the Islanders system and had the most potential of the bunch.  Bill Guerin was the captain at the time, but he ultimately ended up in a good place with Pittsburgh.  Mike "Toe drag" Comrie was unpopular because he was a floater with a large salary and this was a case of addition by subtraction. 

Other players that were given their walking papers include:  Goaltenders Joey Macdonald and Yann Danis, grinder Andy HIlbert, enforcer Mitch Fritz, waiver pick up Thomas Pock, injury replacement Joe Callahan, Dean McAmmond from the Comrie/Campoli trade with Ottawa, and the now retired Mike Sillinger. 

The biggest losses of the bunch were Sillinger and Hilbert, but Sililnger has a chronicly bad hip that forced him out of the game and Hilbert has become to expensive to do what he does for the team. 

Hoping for a statement from:

Jeff Tambellini - It is a shame, but if nice guy Jeff Tambellini doesn't show he isn't only a super AHL talent, he should be bagging groceries in Saskatoon before the end of the season.  The Islanders have shown patience with him, but his offensive prowess in the AHL hasn't translated to the ice in the NHL.   He did show a physical side to his game at the end of last season but with his tools he needs to be potting pucks. The team is full of grinders and energy players. The former LA first round pick needs to make a clear case for himself as a 20+ goal scorer this season. 

Sean Bergenheim - His go go go style of play is similar to ex Islander Jason Blake, a player who developed from a grinder to a goal scorer in his time on the Island.  If Sean can soften his hands a bit and let his mind catch up with his feet, he could be a nice surprise for the team and become a core player for the team.  If not he will remain a special teams/3rd liner.