Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eastern Conference Preseason Preview Plus

Eastern Conference Preseason Preview +

As our New York Islanders enter the 10-11 season, there’s no doubt they are currently one of those teams in the NHL that the media of the hockey world simply continues to have little interest in. Surely the presence of a one Mr. Tavares puts us in a certain spotlight that we haven’t had in recent memory, but what will happen if he doesn't start off this season something like Steven Stamkos did for the Tampa Bay Lightning last year? Expecting him to do so may be little more than wishful thinking on our behalves, even though the possibility is still there. Speaking of expectations, our team is promptly experiencing preseason placement in the lower 10th of the overall standings with nary a publication expecting more than a spot amongst the league’s worst eight teams.

Now, publications are at least giving this franchise credit for taking a conservative and promising path to better competitiveness. In addition, whereas the team made more humble splashes in the course of this summer and may have failed to improve certain on-ice weaknesses (scoring winger/center???), there is no doubt that the acquisitions of Eaton, Wisniewski, Jurcina and Mottau as well as the return of Martinek has this blueline looking deeper than it has in quite some time. A faceoff guy and some fists in Konopka added to real pugilists in Gillies (should be here) and Yablonski (only in very, very, very special cases) gives us a legitimate toughness faction, especially considering Martin should spend some time on the Island this season too. There's reason to hope for Islander fans, but the loss of Okposo and Streit for a good 15-60 games (respectively) gives every pundit the right to see this team as a bottom-feeder this year.

Understandable.

Other teams in the conference are entering (and have in some cases already entered) the season with their fair share of question marks as well. All have done things to improve in some areas, but every team seems to have a glaring weakness or two. With this in mind, here’s a short look at where I BOLDLY predict the teams in the Eastern Conference, and NHL overall, to finish this season!

1) Washington – Last Spring's failure should only make them stronger! Ovechkin has so much to prove after not coming through at the Olympics, in the POs and even in getting a bittersweet silver at the WC. Lots of skill, considerable depth and again, many youngins with much to prove. Still the best overall team in the East.
Topscorer: Alex Ovechkin with 51-55-106
Keep an eye on: Nicklas Backstrom, definitely the league’s most underrated, if not best, playmaker.
Best newcomer: Me thinks John Carlson will make an impact at some point this season.

2) Pittsburgh – Crosby, Malkin, Fluery, Staal… well, at some point when Staal returns. Four key figures few teams can match. The defense is still solid, if not better and Fleury will want to rebound. Crosby does it all and the team really only needs a few wingers to step it up in roles next to Crosby and Malkin or both, at the same time. Hasn't really been done in 3 seasons though. Like him or not, there's hardly a sole out there who can match Crosby as an overall player.
Topscorer: Sidney Crosby with 48-58-106
Keep an eye on: Alex Goligoski, who will surely be given a good period of time to step into Gonchar's (offensive) footsteps.
Best newcomer: If healthy, Paul Martin WILL have his best statistical season to date.

3) Buffalo – This pick is done for two reasons only: Miller and a lack of overall challenge within the division. I actually see several other Conference contenders being ahead of them in the win-loss column. This team lost some good players and again, is asking some kids - a few not too big - to make an impact here. Luckily, Miller is one of maybe 5 goalies who can win you a bundle of 2-1 contests. Expect it. Also expect Tyler Myers to experience a drop of sorts this season and again, if Connolly get concussed, they could be outside the PO picture.
Topscorer: Derek Roy with 23-42-65
Keep an eye on: Tyler Ennis, who is being looked to as the next internal scorer to follow in the career footsteps of Roy, Vanek and Pominville. He may just be that good!
Best newcomer: Jordan Leopold has joined a blueline desperate for a lefty-shooting QB presence. It's now time for him to get back to 35+ point land.

4) New Jersey – I refuse to doubt the Devils, because they prove me wrong every doggone year. But there's excitement now with Kovy and Volchenkov. In addition, Parise is the real deal. No matter who they lose in the next few days, the team will find a way to be amongst the conferences top three overall teams. Lou is just somehow down with geetin' that done. There may be some initial struggles with a new coach, but at the end of the day, there are just too many cogs to be anything but a top 5 in this conference.
Topscorer: Ilya Kovalchuk with 42-47-89
Keep an eye on: Travis Zajac, a fine young player who isn't by any means your classic No. 1 center, but is primed for big points between Kovy and Parise.
Best newcomer: Anton Volchenkov, who brings the toughness and shotblocking that will answer Brodeurs prayers.

5) Philadelphia – SC appearance followed up by a line-up with no proven goaltender and without Chris Pronger. Gagne is gone as well, although Zherdev should replace his offense. I don't care what the set-backs are, I believe in Lavy and he's got enough tools here to have this team not only get to the offseason, but be everyone's worst nightmare once there..
Topscorer: Mike Richards with 27-48-75
Keep an eye on: Ville Leino, because you can't just be THAT awesome and dominant a playoff player and then disappear, right?
Best newcomer: Much to our chagrin, expect Nikolai Zherdev to put up 60 points and add a clever offensive dimension to this club.

6) Tampa Bay – Although they let me down the past two seasons (from a projection standpoint), I think Yzerman is on to something. In addition, the offensive ability available here along with the growth a few Dmen made last season have me thinking that this team will be in the POs this season. In addition, between Lecavalier, St. Louis, Stamkos, Malone, and Gagne, I just don't see more than maybe 5 clubs in the league scoring more goals than the Lightning. Can the goaltending keep them in it?
Topscorer: Martin St. Louis with 35-67-102
Keep an eye on: Steven Stamkos, whose eyes will be fixed on his 2nd 50 goal season and maybe a push towards 60.
Top newcomer: Believe it or not, Sean Bergenheim, who I suspect will find his niche on a team that could really use his aggressiveness and hustle.

7) Carolina – The team that was pretty doggone hot to finish off last season is the team we'll see this year. They'll once again be a little engine that could and this group of boys will leave some more highly touted clubs in their dust. Staal and Ward remain studs. The workers and depth players can get the job done.
Topscorer: Eric Staal with 36-37-73
Keep an eye on: Brandon Sutter, who may end up being one of the teams top 5 scorers and emerge as an underrated No. 2 center.
Best newcomer: Jamie McBain, who should put his name in the ROTY award hat.

8) NY Islanders – I know, I know, just not the chic pick. How could they even make it if everyone were healthy, much less now without Streit and Okposo? The Isles will earn this spot based on a commitment to their system, continuity and even more solid goaltending. They’ll still not be the prettiest team to watch, but the level of competitiveness and the improvements the kids make will be visible, will have them fighting long and hard for spot 8, and will show the NHL that this team is finally ready to bear the fruits of its work. They'll hover around .500 until Okposo and then Streit give them that shot in the arm to knock off the other spot 8-11 competitors in the conference, even if it'll pretty darn close.
Topscorer: John Tavares with 33-38-71
Keep an eye on: James Wisniewski, who is heading right into the situation of expectations and responsibility he claims he's always dreamt of.
Best newcomer: Michael Grabner, another kid who just wants to score goals and is now on a team that needs just that.

9) Boston – My crystal ball tells me that they'll play some good hockey, but that the lack of Savard as well as one or two other key injuries will see them just outside the playoff picture late in the season. I know, tough to imagine, but this team still has much to prove. Still like a lot of the younger guys and this team could easily switch places with Carolina, should things go well.
Topscorer: Tyler Seguin with 20-53-73
Keep an eye on: Dennis Seidenberg, who looks primed to take on a boatload of responsibility this season.
Best newcomer: Nathan Horton, who'll return to 30 goal land with a new lease on life.

10) Atlanta – Is getting there, although losing Kovalchuk is and must be seen as a step backwards. There will be no one man replacement, but this team needs to be, well, more of a team. Now they're damned to be just that and honestly, they seem deeper than they have in years. Goaltending questions linger and Byfuglien on the blueline may not be the best decision. They’ll make things interesting, but we'll have to see if the goals-by-committee can get done in hot Georgia.
Topscorer: Bryan Little with 32-29-61
Keep an eye on: Zach Bogosian, who is immensely talented, a thoroughbred Dman and now has even more PP responsibility with Kubina in TB.
Best newcomer: Dustin Byfuglien, who is one of many, but who just seems to be a monster in both size and PO importance.

11) Ottawa – Until proven otherwise, the goaltending and blueline will ultimately be this team's death knell on too many nights. In addition, the Senators must pray that quickly processed knees on Kovalev and Michalek don't suffer any set-backs, which ultimately happen more often than not. If you've got Campoli eatin' up considerable minutes, then playoffs shouldn't be seen as a serious goal. Alfredsson and Spezza can control a lot, but there are just too many teams in this conference with a tick more 'umph'.
Topscorer: Jason Spezza with 38-46-84
Keep an eye on: Peter Regin, one of the leagues best kept secrets and a kid poised to enter 50+ point land.
Best newcomer: Sergei Gonchar, who'll be asked to log lots of PP minutes in a QB function and thus, should remain a 45+ point Dman.

12) Montreal – Last season was something special. That playoff run was just lights out. Problem is, the guy who did the most was sent packing in an admittedly calculated decision. But at what Price? No pun intended, of course, but this Habs team enters this season with a boatload of questions and requiring, once again, a lot of small men to play big roles. There's talent, but the buck will stop with Price's ability to win, because he is gonna see shots and at the moment, it's not looking like this kid can bloom in this city. Welp, another 81 games to go to find the answers.
Topscorer: Mike Camalleri with 34-33-67
Keep an eye on: Carey Price, because not a goalie in the league will have THIS many critics to satisfy, including the ones he sits next to in the locker room.
Best newcomer: Jeff Halpern, who's certainly not a 'sexy' center, but will be the spine of the lower lines and PK unit.

13) NY Rangers – Lundqvist and Gaborik remain awesome. There's more talent, but the word 'inconsistant' is applicable in describing just about any and everybody on this team, aside from the two megastars mentioned above. They should fight for spot 7-10, but I'm going out on a big limb (OK, not that big) and say that one - if not both - of the King and Gabby are gonna spend considerable time on the IR. Once that happens, kiss the POs goodbye, because what's currently there ain't gonna cut it. And uhhh, what are they doing up the middle?
Topscorer: Alex Frolov with 26-34-60
Keep an eye on: Derek Stepan, who his highly touted and is practically being force-fed responsibiltiy.
Best newcomer: Martin Biron, because the team simply MUST find a way to rest Lundqvist and he's their best answer yet.

14)Toronto – Unbelievable the attention given to whether Kadri makes the roster or not. Heck, that kid ain't Kane, Stamkos or even Tavares. But so goes it in Leafland, where things are microanalyzed after being microanalyzed. Thing is, they're still looking to be more competitive this season than they've been for a while. The goaltending looks solid and the blueline features many NHL-capable Dmen. If Burke turns Kaberle+ into a bonafide top center, then I'll have to change this prediction, but for now, this team just doesn't have the proven, consistant offense to guarantee a playoff spot. Still they should only finish 10 or less points from spot 8 in the conference.
Topscorer: Phil Kessel with 44-25-69
Keep an eye on: Dion Phaneuf, who needs to be this team's best overall player and a 50 point Dman.
Best newcomer: Kris Versteeg, who should inject some jump and excitement into a club that desperately needs his 50 points.

15) Florida - Just not enough there. Goaltending is fairly intact, but the defense is merely average. The attack will likely be the worse in the NHL, even though someone will likely have a career year. Far too much would have to go right for this admittedly rebuilding club to even come close to spot 8 in the conference. At least they had an interesting draft. Still, they'll likely bite a few teams in the behind along the way, so no one should take them too lightly.
Topscorer: Stephen Weiss with 24-32-56
Keep an eye on: Michael Frolik, who’s still not called “baby Jagr” for nothing!
Best newcomer: Dennis Wideman, who'll look to get his career back on track and should be given plenty of opportunity to do so.

QUICK WESTERN CONFERENCE TIPS
1) Vancouver Canucks – Solid and simply needing to produce/perform.
Topscorer: Henrik Sedin with 24-82-106
2) Chicago Blackhawks – Will be ready come playoff time and are still exciting.
Topscorer: Patrick Kane with 33-55-88
3) Detroit Red Wings – Still have all the ingredients.
Topscorer: Pavel Datsyuk with 28-56-84
4) San Jose Sharks – Mature star power and fresh look in goal.
Topscorer: Joe Thornton with 22-63-85
5) LA Kings – Ready to make life tough on the opposition - even in the POs
Topscorer: Anze Kopitar with 36-48-84
6) Calgary Flames – 2nd time around is the charm, right?
Topscorer: Jerome Iginla with 36-42-78
7) Nashville Predators – Good, solid club with a great blueline. STILL needs scoring.
Topscorer: Matthew Lombardi with 26-37-63
8) St. Louis Blues – Stagnated last season; kids ready to pick things up!
Topscorer: David Perron 25-39-64

9) Anaheim Ducks – Team needs to rebound, but defense must respond.
Topscorer: Ryan Getzlaf with 29-53-82
10) Colorado Avalanche – Need too many kids to be real good - again. Doesn't happen.
Topscorer: Paul Stastny with 25-50-75
11) Phoenix Coyotes – Don't see them repeating? Count me in...
Topscorer: Wojtek Wolski with 27-42-69
12) Dallas Stars – A bit of a rebuild in place despite some strong players.
Topscorer: Brad Richards with 21-51-72
13) Edmonton - Lots of fun young guys to watch. Something to enjoy.
Topscorer: Ales Hemsky with 18-48-66
14) Minnesota Wild – Their time in limbo looks to continue.
Topscorer: Martin Havlat with 26-39-65
15) Columbus Blue Jackets – Limboland not only Minnesota's domain.
Topscorer: Rick Nash with 42-36-78

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NYI STAT PREDICTIONS Coming Soon, but...

Here's just a quick look at last years' predictions.

Do enjoy!

PREDICTION
NYI: 34-40-8 for 76 points
REALITY
NYI: 34-37-11 for 79 points

GOALIES:
Dwayne Roloson
PREDICTION
17-22-4 in 46 games, 2.90 GAA, .912 SV%
REALITY
23-18-7 in 50 games, 3.00 GAA, .907 SV%

Martin Biron:
PREDICTION
12-16-2 in 32 games, 2.74 GAA, .916 SV%
REALITY
9-14-4 in 29 games, 3.27 GAA, .896 SV%

Rick Dipietro:
PREDICTION
5-2-2 in 9 games, 2.38 GAA, .918 SV%
REALITY
2-5-0 in 8 games, 2.60 GAA, .900 SV%

DEFENSE:
Mark Streit
PREDICTION
12-49-61 in 75 games
REALITY
11-38-49 in 82 games

Bruno Gervais
PREDICTION
6-20-26 in 78 games
REALITY
3-14-17 in 71 games

Jack Hillen
PREDICTION
4-17-21 in 62 games
REALITY
3-18-21 in 69 games

Ken Sutton
PREDICTION
Stats with Islanders:
6-12-18 in 69 games
REALITY
4-8-12 in 54 games

Freddy Meyer IV
PREDICTION
2-15-17 in 72 games
REALITY
4-11-15 in 64 games

Radek Martinek
PREDICTION
4-7-11 in 64 games
REALITY
2-1-3 in 16 games

Brendan Witt
PREDICTION
1-5-6 in 58 games
REALITY
2-3-5 in 42 games

Andy MacDonald
PREDICTION
1-3-4 in 17 games
REALITY
1-6-7 in 46 games

PREDICTION
Each of Kohn, Katic, Flood and even de Haan could see a handful of games throughout the season. Another waiver-wire pick-up along the way shouldn't come as a surprise.
REALITY
Kohn and Flood did get a handful of games throughout the season. Reese came along in a minor league deal an played 19 games with the big boys

FORWARDS
Kyle Okposo
PREDICTION
24-28-52 in 75 games
REALITY
19-33-52 in 80 games

John Tavares
PREDICTION
21-26-47 in 79 games
REALITY
24-30-54 in 82 games

Josh Bailey
PREDICTION
14-27-41 in 76 games
REALITY
16-19-35 in 73 games

Trent Hunter
PREDICTION
16-22-38 in 62 games
REALITY
11-17-28 in 61 games

Jeff Tambellini
PREDICTION
13-24-37 in 79 games
REALITY
7-7-14 in 36 games

Blake Comeau
PREDICTION
12-25-37 in 77 games
REALITY
17-18-35 in 61 games

Doug Weight
PREDICTION
8-26-34 in 61 games
REALITY
1-16-17 in 36 games

Frans Nielsen
PREDICTION
11-21-32 in 66 games
REALITY
12-26-38 in 76 games

Sean Bergenheim
PREDICTION
13-11-24 in 62 games
REALITY
10-13-23 in 63 games

Jon Sim
PREDICTION
11-8-19 in 53 games
REALITY
13-9-22 in 77 games

Richard Park
PREDICTION
7-12-19 in 59 games
REALITY
9-22-31 in 81 games

Matt Moulson
PREDICTION
8-6-14 in 47 games
REALITY
30-18-48 in 82 games

Tim Jackman
PREDICTION
3-5-8 in 70 games
REALITY
4-5-9 in 54 games

Jesse Joensuu LW/RW
PREDICTION
2-2-4 in 9 games
REALITY
1-0-1 in 11 games

Matt Martin
PREDICTION
1-1-2 in 18 games
REALITY
0-2-2 in 5 games

Joel Rechlicz
PREDICTION
0-1-1 in 43 games
REALITY
0-0-0 in 6 games

Robbie Schremp
PREDICTION
5-12-17 in 38 games
REALITY
7-18-25 in 44 games

Islanders Stat Predictions 2010/11

The 2010/11 NHL season is upon us.

Seing as how the 2010/11 season is upon us, it's time to start rolling out the predictions for our Islanders in the upcoming season.

I'll let it be no secret that I'm looking at this season enthusiastically. Year three of Snow's rebuild/youth movement/stalling-to-take-off-the-pressure-for-not-signing-legitimate-additions/whathaveyou is looking cautiously calculated, but most certainly allows for one to believe that the team can take yet another step after an 18 point improvement between the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons.

Let there also be no doubt that the additions of PA Parenteau, Zenon Kenopka, Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina and James Wisniewski can be looked at as little more than marginal improvement over the losses of Park, Jackman, Bergenheim, Witt, Meyer and Sutton vis-à-vis the line-up going into last season. Nonetheless, at least Wisniewski, Kenopka and Eaton offer this team certain qualities that just were not part of the line-up last year. In addition, with the experience gathered by Matt Martin, Jesse Joensuu, Dustin Kohn and Dylan Reese last season as well as the NHL experience already possessed by AHL fill-ins Jon Sim and Andy Hilbert, this team is boasting of a depth that it hasn't had in years.

These players do not include the eigth defenseman and thirteen forwards who seem destined for Long Island to begin the season. They also do not take into account the outside role that young players Nino Niederreiter, Rhett Rakhshani, David Ullstrom, Travis Hamonic, and Mark Katic might have in winning over a spot on the team.

With this all in mind, here are my stat predictions for the 2010/11 season!

New York Islanders

41-33-6 for 88 points and spot 8 in the conference standings.

GOALIES
Dwayne Roloson
Synopsis: Was without a doubt one of the Islanders' most important players last season. It seemed as though any and every point we gained in the first half of the season came with him in net, and with him playing a good role in earning those points. Then came the 3-goalie phase and he seemed to immediately suffer from this break in his flow. At this point, the 41 year old is entering the season as the unabridged starter. May we hope he can continue his fairly solid play from last season. A playoff spot is not otherwise possible, right?
If things don't go his way: 16-24-5, 3.25 GAA, .890 SV%
If things go his way: 28-21-3, 2.85 GAA, .910 SV%
What I predict: 26-18-4, 2.98 GAA, .905 SV%

Rick Dipietro
Synopsis: Your guess is as good as mine. Don't see him regaining his pre-injuries all-star form, but one can hope!
If things don't go his way: 3-6-1, 3.50 GAA, .885 SV%
If things go his way: 32-20-5, 2.20 GAA, .930 SV%
What I predict: 14-12-2, 3.05 GAA, .910 SV%

Nathan Lawson
Synopsis: Kind of the guy who's just there. I don't expect much, but with a Dipietro around, he could very well be the back-up for the bulk of the season. His AHL numbers to date would indicate that he may of earned a shot. Hard to think he'd be anything more than a stop-gap, especially if both Dipietro and Roloson suffer injures.
If things don't go his way: 0-4-0, 3.85 GAA, .860 SV%
If things go his way: 10-7-5, 3.10 GAA, .915 SV%
What I predict: 1-3-0, 3.30 GAA, .897 SV%

Mikko Koskinen and Kevin Poulin:
One is likely to get a start at some point, unless Dipietro and Roloson are simply dominating.

DEFENSEMEN
1) Mark Streit
Synopsis: So how long is Mr. All Everything going to be out? What kind of an effect will his operated shoulder have on his shot? When he does come back, how long will it take for him to get up and running. Despite a somewhat off year last season, there's no doubt that much was asked of Streit and he played with a number of partners who he ultimately had to carry to a certain degree. That shouldn't be the case if and once he comes back
If things don't go his way: 1-5-6
If things go his way: 8-28-36
What I predict: 7-19-26

2) James Wisniewski
If things don't go his way: His role was to come in and help out Streit. Now he kind of needs to uhhhh replace him. Too much to ask of course, but Wisniewski seems like a guy who has a lot to prove. He'll never get a better. May his slapshot prove the Hammer of Thor we've not seen from a righty shot in quite some time.
If things don't go his way: 5-13-18
If things go his way: 15-25-40
What I predict: 8-31-39

3) Mark Eaton
Synopsis: I was never fond of him nor have I ever thought him to be anything special in any of the three zones. He did however play a nice role in Pittsburgh's cup run, but his positive attributes were surely just complimentary to being in a line-up with a number of ubertalented players. I personally don't think he's much better than Meyer IV, but I'll happily sit back and let him prove he is.
If things don't go his way: 0-4-4
If things go his way: 2-15-17
What I predict: 1-6-7

4) Jack Hillen
Synopsis: Made some real strides last year and looked like a decent and no longer overextended transitional Dman. Jack was even starting to look very comfortable before taking Ovechkin's shot to the face. His WC play wasn't bad, but also reflected what he must get better at: decision-making as he approaches and once he's in the opponent's zone. That's got to get better if he wants to make a career of it as a fluid and effective defenseman. His shot is nothing to write home about either. PP time could increase in Streit's absence
If things don't go his way: 1-11-12
If things go his way: 6-32-38
What I predict: 4-23-27

5) Andy MacDonald
Synopsis: Arrived on the scene in an unexpectedly fine fashion. Played very poised and intelligent. His shot isn't half bad and his passing surpasses, ahem, a number of his colleagues on the blueline. I know from a first hand witness that he more than surprised his own teammates with his play. Surprising was also his speed in cleaning up mistakes and getting back into the zone. Not a checker, not a roughian. Can he continue his cerebral play? Don't be surprised to see him eating up a number of those minutes expected to go to Streit.
If things don't go his way: 2-8-10
If things go his way: 6-26-32
What I predict: 6-18-24

6) Radek Martinek
Synopsis: Seems folks will just assume he'll do what he can until an injury comes. Even if a bit inevitable, let's hope he still gets in a good 60 games. Fact is, he's servicable and has a few grand, grand games a season. Decent puckmover; smart Dman. Been around as long as well, just about any Islander, eh? Will give his all as long as the body lets him.
If things don't go his way: 1-2-3
If things go his way: 5-16-21
What I predict: 2-7-9

7) Mike Mottau
Synopsis: Seeing as how this signing came RIGHT on the heels of Streit's injury, let there be no doubt that it was chiefly motivated by it. Like, no duh? The guy was a BC boy and had a very solid 4 year college career, with a monster sophomore season. That was long ago and it didn't look like he'd get past the AHL until Lou's club found use for him. Having been fairly solid in lower capacity, it'll be interesting to see if he can show himself to be better than Gervais and Jurcina, his chief competition at the moment.
If things don't go his way: 0-4-4
If things go his way: 5-15-20
What I predict: 1-8-9

8) Milan Jurcina
Synopsis: We're simply gonna have to see where this guy fits. In his favor is that he worked with Gordon in Providence and obviously the team wouldn't have signed him if Gordon had had any reservations, right? On the other hand he's been labelled a gentle giant who certainly isn't gonna be winning any skating awards. So as one of 8 Dmen, where does he fit in? What role can he assume? Does he block any shots?
If things don't go his way: 0-2-2
If things go his way: 3-12-15
What I predict: 3-4-7

9) Bruno Gervais
Synopsis: Looking like the odd man out going in, but sometimes that's JUST the motivation a guy needs. He looked horrible at times last season, but he does have a few attributes that allow him to stick around, and I'm not including his cooking talents or general all-round good guy reputation when it comes to community service, where he may be the best the Isles have to offer. Until he becomes consequent with his positioning in his own zone as well as getting the puck out of the zone when it should be oh so easy, he's getting closer to a top 6 job in Europe than the NHL.
If things don't go his way: 0-3-3
If things go his way: 4-20-24
What I predict: 0-4-4

Others:
Mark Katic
What I predict: 1-3-4
Travis Hamonic
What I predict: 2-1-3
Dustin Kohn
What I predict: 0-0-0
Dylan Reese
What I predict: 0-0-0


FORWARDS
John Tavares
Synopsis: Considered to be our franchise player, it seems that many are already of the belief that he'll go much the way of a one Mr. Stamkos. For those who feel that, I ask "Where are the St. Louis, Lecavaliers, Downies and Malones on this team to feed him the puck?" Nonetheless, much indicates that young Tavares is ready to lead this team in the scoring department, uhhh, as he did last season. We should expect it and it should be an improvement upon his very decent 54 rookie points. Stamkosland is a great reach though.
If things don't go his way: 26-24-50
If things go his way: 35-42-77
What I predict: 33-38-71

Blake Comeau
Synopsis: Many will just sit back and wait for it to maybe happen, but I'm gonna predict that Blakey 'gets it' this season. I think he came into his true form to end last season and that he has that two-way, coast-to-coast swagger to go along with decent all-round offensive instincts. It'll pay off starting this season and with JT or RS as his center. Garth will feel justified in not having signed, say, a Frolov instead of just sticking with Comeau.
If things don't go his way: 14-18-32
If things go his way: 35-35-70
What I predict: 32-26-58

Josh Bailey
Synopsis: No doubt, Josh is the most difficult forward in the starting 12 to get a read on from a prediction standpoint. There are skills, but his first two seasons have been marred with inconsistency. His teammates seem to think he's got mucho talent and it looks like he'll begin the year on the LW side, where he arguably enjoyed his best production output to date.
If things don't go his way: 12-16-28
If things go his way: 23-36-59
What I predict: 18-28-46

Kyle Okposo
Synopsis: Surgery and three months on the IR. Big bummer. The team's number one right wing was surely counted on to be one of its top scorers and still needs him to be if there's to be any shot of making the playoffs. Still, as with Streit, he may have more gas in the tank when the games count more with the time off. I expect him to need a lotttt of time to find to his scoring, which often lingered last season.
If things don't go his way: 7-18-25
If things go his way: 21-33-54
What I predict: 18-26-44

Rob Schremp
Synopsis: It took him a while to acclimated and then to earn minutes. He slowly began to strut his stuff and to be honest, he maybe has the best offensive skills on the team, including Tavares. He's tricky, he holds and handles the puck well and once the confidence was there, he spent 10 games being our best offensive player. An injury rained on his coming out party. Now, however, he's coming into this season knowing that the coaches, management and players believe he can play a serious offensive role - and he seems ecstatic. Let's just hope the injuries don't ruin things for him - and us.
If things don't go his way: 5-13-18
If things go his way: 18-42-60
What I predict: 12-32-44

Matt Moulson
Synopsis: He convinced me last season. I enjoyed his overall game, his effort, his sweat and blood. He IS the best man on the team within 10 feet of the goal. He's got that sense of where to be, the so-called nose for the net. It's there. It'll stay. I'm sure the effort will continue, because he does not wanna be an AHLer again within a year's time. Despite this, he'll not be able to take the league by surprise and he'll not necessarily be getting top two line minutes. His importance will remain. His scoring will inadvertantly drop.
If things don't go his way: 14-8-22
If things go his way: 40-28-68
What I predict: 21-15-36

Frans Nielsen
Synopsis: Underrated Dane has gone under the radar for two seasons now. His technical stats (i.e. everything not G-A-TP-PM-+/-) were awesome. He was one of the NHL's top 5 two-way centers. Now he's coming off a decent showing at his native Denmark's best World Championship ever. A summer on LI doing work with LI's staff and the confidence of having established a somewhat permanent job could all go a long way in making him a cog in this team's playoff push. It would be welcome.
If things don't go his way: 7-16-23
If things go his way: 17-33-50
What I predict: 9-21-30

Trent Hunter
Synopsis: The big man is a top teammate and truly appreciated in the locker room and as part of the franchise. He's been here for a lot of down times. He's been in decline. This season may be very telling as to how long he'll be an Islander and what he can do for this franchise. Lord knows we could use his rookie year form, at least in a scoring capacity. Looks like 3rd line RW will remain his calling.
If things don't go his way: 9-12-21
If things go his way: 20-26-46
What I predict: 14-15-29

P.A. Parenteau
Synopsis: It was a bit of a tryout. 8 points in 22 games as a spare-part-getting-older rookie isn't hopeless, but Parenteau is now 27 and has a clause in his contract stating it's the Island or he's off to the highest bidder in Europe. Good for him. There's probably much he could do in Switzerland or Germany, but can he cook the goose in the NHL? With Okposo out, it looks like we'll find out one way or the other. So is he Matt Moulson part deux??? Kip Miller part deux??? Justin Papineau part cent mille? Just hope he can make an impact in a scoring capacity.
If things don't go his way: 1-2-3, then EUROPE
If things go his way: 22-27-49
What I predict: 11-16-27

Doug Weight
Synopsis: Another year is being added on. We don't know how that shoulder of his is going to react. In addition, we don't know what role he's going to assume. For all we know, he could end up being a top 2 center. He's more likely to get wing time on a lower line and health permitting, a fair dosage of PP time. Streit's absence alone may see to that. There's no doubt he's amongst the smartest 10% of players we have. Is the body willing to make use of that?
If things don't go his way: 0-3-3
If things go his way: 12-30-42
What I predict: 4-19-23

Michael Grabner
Synopsis: Don't know what to think of him, but the situation isn't entirely different from Schremp's a year ago and Grabner has even done more in the NHL than Schremp had at this juncture last season. The kid has been a WHL and AHL goalscorer. He's at an age where, like Nielsen and Bergenheim before him, it was time to put up or shut up. Other than Vanek, he IS Austria's NHL hope. Now, last season I thought Moulson would make this team right out of camp and put up 14 points. He did the former and outdid the latter. I've got a sneaky suspicion that Grabner has the goods to help this team, but I'm gonna stay conservative and envision his stay here much like Justin Papineau's back in the day.
If things don't go his way: 0-0-0
If things go his way: 27-14-41
What I predict: 11-7-18

Zenon Konopka
Synopsis: Fists and face-offs. We'll take a big helping of both please! I'm gonna say that like Wisniewski, he appears to be in the ideal situation for him, with a coach who'll wanna see what other tools he has and can offer. I suspect he'll be a pleasant surprise. Look for him to play a role in holding late leads. Don't know if he's an answer on the PK.
If things don't go his way: 0-0-0
If things go his way: 5-10-15, 215 PMs
What I predict: 3-5-8, 190 PMs

Jon Sim
Synopsis: It's not nice to say, but I'm hoping we see as little of Jon as possible. He gets under the opponent's skin, but he's just not the guy fans 'pay to see'. Surely he's well-placed as a 4th line grinder and that line with Kenopka and Gillies can make life tough for opponents, but I'd rather see him in BPort and serving as a mentor while doing some heavy scoring for a team that's gonna have it hard. May Sim be there no later than when Okposo returns.
If things don't go his way: 0-0-0
If things go his way: 11-8-19
What I predict: 2-3-5

Matt Martin
Synopsis: Future fan fave should get a wee bit more than last year's cup of coffee, but to be honest, unless Parenteau and Grabner flat out fail miserably, he might as well be getting 1st/2nd line minutes in BPort. Sim, Gillies, Hilbert, Grabner and Parenteau can duke it out for lower line minutes in the meantime. Of course, if he just proves too ready down on the farm, then by all means, let him come up and begin his career as Wendel Clark's player reincarnation.
If things don't go his way: 0-0-0
If things go his way: 10-14-24, 150 PMs
What I predict: 1-4-5, 60 PMs

Nino Niederreiter
Synopsis: I'll say it simply: he's here for 9 games. I love that he's actually looked pretty doggone good in the preseason. He already appears mature beyond his years. I'm very excited about the role he can play here - next season. For now, he'll stopgap until Grabner is fit, who'll then get a top nine shot (along with Parenteau) until Okposo returns.
If things don't go his way: 0-0-0
If things go his way: 16-20-36
What I predict: 1-2-3 (then 80+ in Portland)

Trevor Gillies
Synopsis: Clubhouse boy is liked by his teammates. He seems to know what he's here for and although he's not in the Parros/Boogard heavyweight class, he can hold his own and duke it out. Can't wait for just that, primarily against the NYR and PHF. Otherwise, barely an ECHLer.
If things don't go his way: 0-0-0
If things go his way: 2-2-4, 250 PMs
What I predict: 1-1-2, 180 PMs

Others:
Jesse Joensuu
What I predict: 2-4-6
Rhett Rakhshani
What I predict: 1-3-4
David Ullstrom
What I predict: 0-2-2
Andy Hilbert
What I predict: 0-0-0

Friday, June 25, 2010

Conventional Wisdom - Or Juggling with Dreams?

Everyone's excited - of that there is no doubt!

The blogosphere is booming and chatrooms are going non-stop. It's draft time and it's absolutely amazing the energy and excitement that is generated at this time of year. It represents acquisition, promise, new blood - in essence, hope.

And with pick number five in this year's draft in Los Angeles, Islanderville is very much involved in this high-octane tour. With the past two first rounds not lacking in drama, the most difficult thing going into this draft as a fan is predicting just what the Islanders are going to do. Trade down? Trade up? A bit of both? Or take the most logical pick at five and let the rest fall into place? That would be conventional wisdom, but as we all know, this modus operandi hasn't led to the acquisition of two of the past three first rounders.

For those precious few who may read this before tonight's events, here are some things you can probably safely assume or at least lean towards in gauging what exactly our Islanders with do with the Number 5... and beyond.

Looking at the obvious:
This Islander team has some nice blueliners coming up through the system, but you can never have enough bluechippers and the scouting community currently says that defensemen Gudbranson, Fowler and Gormley are the most logical selections at spots 3-5. You can't lose with one of them. One is really tough, one is really skilled and the latter is your basic jack-of-all-trades, good in every department, outstanding in none (thus far).

Then there are two kids that many fans may see as good options at #5 - if still there. One would be Mr. Winner Jack Campbell. He's a goalie who has QUITE a resume to date. The boy just oozes a winner mentality, and has several gold medals as a result. As the draft approaches, there are more and more scouts mentioning that in 10 year's time, he may be the best player coming out of this draft. That's certainly something to think about.

Then there's Brett Connolly. Coming into the season, he seemed to be in a group consisting of the top 5-7 prospects, third or fourth amongst forwards. Along with Hall and Seguin, he and Kabanov were the kids who had this draft being tabbed as a very strong one. Nonetheless, he's hardly played this year and that lack of play was due to a hip problem that ultimately turned into two hip problems. He returned in time to participate for a prospect-laden Team Canada U18 team that put in a brutal performance in Minsk. Connolly, once believed to be one of the top ten 18 year olds on the planet, scored only one goal in four games, and that was in an 11-3 victory, with the decision having already been made. Although all this usually leads to a huge drop in stock, he's nonetheless still considered by many to be a Top 10 pick, based primarily on the promise shown in a 60 point season as a 16/17 year old in the WHL.

He remains the favorite for a number of Islander fans.

Going behind the scenes:
The Islanders made the easiest 'tough decision' a team can make when they took John Tavares first overal last summer. Still, whether trading down twice to ultimately take Josh Bailey about 4 spots ahead of where he was expected to go or trading up twice to take de Haan about 10 spots before many thought he'd go, the Isles have shown a propensity to pinpoint certain guys they like and move to get them.

As such, it could be considered very safe to read a little bit into the Islanders having hosted a visit from Mikael Granlund, Alex Burmistrov, Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Johansen. Some say it's due diligence, but considering Bailey had only visited the Bruins AND Islanders in his draft year, it should mean little that these four forwards have been ranked somewhere between 6-15 amongst prospects for the bulk of the season.

There are also some defensemen with a good pedigree and great size, namely defensemen Derek Forbort, Dylan McIlrath and Jarred Tinordi. All would seem to be players most teams could make good use of at some point - and every team has Tyler Myers fresh on their minds.

Then one has to account for the 'Character X factor' that the Isles tend to apply to their pick options. If a boy shows the ability to successfully deal with extracurricular problems or adversity, yet can also fit into and successfully execute a team's system, then this kid is probably pretty high on Snow and Jankowski's list. Players like Jaden Schwartz, Austin Watson and Quinton Howden could fit the bill on this front.

But what of Californian Emerson Etem's incredible rise through the ranks in such a short period of time? And what of Jeff Skinner's 50 OHL goals and another 20 in the playoffs, stats that should have every team salivating? In addition, could the Islanders be in line to stump the fear of Russian exodus and snag the immensely talented Vladimir Tarasenko? Kuznetzov or Kitsyn anyone? What of the talented boys dropping for various reasons, namely Kirill Kabanov and John McFarland?

All these guys could be in the equation, but where?

And what happens at five?

Following conventional wisdom:
The Islanders can simply sit back and should feel pretty safe taking whichever of the big three Dmen is available, right?

Who they're most probably not taking at five:
With three goalies they're pretty high on, the team would be hard-pressed to justify the selection of Jack Campbell, especially when there is other talent there that the team could absolutely use. It's of course apples and oranges comparing goalies to skaters though. Snow and Gordon are former goalies, but at this point Jankowski and crew stuck their necks out too far last summer in taking Koskinen and Nilsson successively only to just grab Campbell this year too. There are also some decent goalies later in the draft - where a great majority of NHL goalies come from anyways.

In addition, when you've been ravished by injuries as much as the Islanders have in recent years, can anyone see a rational reason why THIS Islander club would take Brett Connolly, a kid whose hip problems could hamper him at any point in his career and who's one chance to show he's better than others in his age group was anything but successful? There just seems to be too much talent in the top 20 to risk a pick on a kid coming in with such bagage. In addition, can the scouts really claim he's THAT good based on one 60 point junior season with boatloads of ice time for a bad team? I cannot see our very own Jankowski and crew taking that risk.

Based on trends from prior drafts, how spectators could see this thing going down:
Basically, it should be no surprise to see this team trade down within the top 15 to take THEIR favorite. It could be like in 2008, where several trades were made. At the same time, and especially if they take this route, it could also be likely that the package up some of what they get with any combination of the two 2nds and two 3rds they have to get back into the first round. In other words, there are plenty of boys here in round 1 who look to be of interest to the Islanders. Surely Snow and Jankowski would rather have the two of them they are certain about rather than one and then 4 risks in rounds 2-3, right?

Bold prediction for an exciting weekend:
Looking to make a huge splash in this weekend's events, Florida will not only pick 3rd, but will then send the Islanders Stephen Weiss, #15, #33 and #50 for the #5, Bruno Gervais, and Corey Trivino. With Minnesota on the clock and looking for a young NHL winger plus a solid prospect, the Islanders will send them Sean Bergenheim and Minnesota boy Aaron Ness for the #9. For the time being, the Islanders will remain quiet and simply make their first four selections.

The Islanders take the following players:
#9 Mikael Granlund
#15 Dylan McIlrath
#33 Justin Faulk
#35 Kirill Kabanov

Justification:
Granlund - Having gone 14-32-46 against men in 48 SM Liga games (including playoffs), added another 7 points in an underwhelming WJC (but coming straight off an injury) and dominated the U18 with 14 points in 5 games, the Islanders take the crafty young man who is likely the most intelligent on-ice player available. He's already scored against men and whereas skating & size remain an issue (ahem, both very average), he has excelled at every level and just plain makes his teammates better. The kid has so much that screams of Saku Koivu, who by the way only had 10 points in the SM Liga when he was Granlund's age.

McIlrath - Some Isles fans will surely love this guy for his size and punch (really, he can fight!), and the hulking Dman has been rising up the ranks astronomically, based on a strong 2nd half to his season. Still, where's the connection? Welp, he played with Hamonic the first part of the season, to whom he has publicly given a lot of credit for being his guide and mentor. As such, Islander scouts saw him quite a bit. And like de Haan the year before, who picked up his offensive game after John Tavares had been traded, so too did McIlrath become more of a force with more ice time after - you guessed it - Hamonic was moved. Still raw, he has considerable upside and fills a size void this team doesn't necessarily admit to suffer from.

Faulk - Possesses a well-rounded, strong offensive game and is solid in every zone. Good skater with nice size. Lost in the numbers with Forbort, Tinordi and Merrill usually ahead of him, but the Isles see his upside and his college future and feel he's got the same possibilities as Donovan. They happily snag him at 33.

Kabanov - With a short tenure on Long Island while waiting for the visa necessary to play in the QMJHL, the Islanders have had extra time to see and meet the kid in some capacity. Despite incredible and documented off-ice problems, and a father who'll be a stress-factor one way or the other, the Islanders chance it here with him, having garnered the extra picks in previous moves. They decide to risk it on the terribly skilled winger. As opposed to Petrov a few summers before, he costs a higher pick, but is much more inclined to sticking in North America and would already fight for a spot in the fall camp.

After the 49th pick, two trades are announced:
Trade 1: The Islanders send pick #50, their 2011 5th rounder and Robin Figren to Chicago for Kris Versteeg.

Trade 2: The Islanders send Brendan Witt and pick #160 to Montreal for Roman Hamrlik and pick #147.

The Islanders then proceed to use picks #s 58, 65, 82, 95, 125, 147, 155, and 185.

By Sunday night, the team leaves Los Angeles with the following +/- balance:

NHLers and Prospects:
- Brendan Witt, Sean Bergenheim, Bruno Gervais, Robin Figren, Aaron Ness and Corey Trivino.
+ Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, Roman Hamrlik

Draft picks:
- #5, #160, 2011 5th
+ #9, #15, #33, #147
+/- #50

Come out of the draft with:
Granlund, McIlrath, Faulk, Kabanov, 8 more picks.

Sounds wild, eh?

Later round suggestions:
For me personally, there are a number of players in later rounds who I think are very fascinating. I'd love to think the Isles would grab one or two of them.

Goalies:
Grubauer (15th NA), Conz (3rd EUR), Volden (4th EUR)

Defenseman:
Dan Biega (46th NA), Madaisky (57th NA), Silas (60th NA), Aronson (88th NA), Gudas (94th NA), Leach (120th NA), Ramage (131st NA), Abeltshauser (164th NA), Luuko (175th NA), Marincin (10th EUR), Granberg (21st EUR), Krejci (51st EUR), Jensen (84th EUR)

Forwards:
Lindberg (7th EUR), Kuehnhackl (8th EUR), Donskoi (14th EUR), Pulkinnen (17th EUR), Larsson (34th EUR), Raask (82nd EUR), Olden (86th EUR), Noebels (100th EUR), Nelson (25th NA), Martindale (27th NA), Telegin (33rd NA), Shipley (43rd NA), Zucker (51st NA), Culek (52nd NA), Shugg (53rd NA), Brickley (58th NA), McKegg (66th NA), Knight (82nd NA), Gaede (104th NA), Ranford (111th NA), Ferland (146th NA), DeBlois (153rd NA), Daugherty (179th NA), Hrivik (194th NA)

Whatever happens, I hope you at least have fun with this blog, and more importantly, with this weekend's draft. Hopefully, it'll be the last draft in quite some time where the Isles enter with a top 15 pick, much less a top 5.

In just a few short hours, they can go a long way in pushing the rebuild - or youth movement - to the next level!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

To Trade or Not To Trade?

As an oh-so-exciting Olympics lingers on, Islander GM Garth Snow has much to ponder about with respect to his team's last 20 games.

The biggest question he must answer for himself is: Does this team still have a shot at making the playoffs?

Certainly, every franchise within shooting distance must in some way show its fanbase that the team intends to win and believes it can. Mathematically, the Isles could run off a good 12 wins to finish this beast off and slip into the playoffs, granted certain other teams don't do the same thing at the same time.

Then again, if that happens, what chance would this team really have once in the playoffs? Would it even be a contest if our beloved Islanders were to enter the 7-game dance with a New Jersey, Pittburgh, Philadelphia, or Washington?

Moreover, what are the chances that this team doesn't win another 10 games this season and rolls into the offseason with a bottom third finish and nothing to show for having arguably 3 NHL starting goaltenders and at least one currently very valuable UFA (Andy Sutton) likely wandering off into UFAville?

Seem like a more likely scenario to you?

To me too.

Simply put, Garth Snow can and should be happy that this team spent the first 60 games being a good deal better than last season's edition of the Islanders and was even good in raising a few eyebrows along the way. While Snow's biggest UFA coups the past two summers, Streit and Roloson, have had a good deal to do with this competitiveness (especially Roloson), and Matt Moulson and to a degree Rob Schremp have been solid additions up front, this team has received the bulk of its contributions from U25 players Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, Jack Hillen and - despite his 2nd half difficulties - John Tavares. Throw in Andrew MacDonald's surprising, if not downright miraculous, jump from 6th round pick to 25 minute-per-night NHL defenseman, and this team has moved forward primarily on the strength of its own draft picks and signings.

Getting back on track here, it should be clear to most that this year's Islanders are not winning the Stanley Cup. It should be clear to most, that teams with much greater chances at doing so are going to be knocking on Snow's door to inquire about several players. It should be clear to most that Snow is currently analyzing about how he can make this team better for next season - a season in which this club should be viewing playoff spots 7 and 8 as a clear-cut goal.

There may even be several GMs asking Snow about important veterans such as Streit and Hunter, two guys who have excellent deals and several years remaining on their contracts. I don't know how moving Streit could be of benefit to this team - but with GMs like Don Waddell out there, you just never know what type of knock-your-socks-off deals Snow could be offered. While I don't think we'll see Mark Streit be moved, it'd be quite surprising if Snow didn't play the part of the seller as we approach the deadline, just 10 days away.

Players who may not be here by March 5th:

Andy Sutton: We've already seen several 3rd rate veterans be sent packing in deals that have all included 2nd round picks. Enter the aforementioned Andy Sutton. Playing for a new contract, Sutton has had his best season in years. He's been solid in his own end and has created a highlight reel of huge, spectacular hits throughout this season. His confidence is there and he's shown a apt ability in moving the puck forward, sometimes exhibiting some mighty fine hands in the process. Although not used enough, his shot is as hard and deadly as anyone else's. Throw in that size he has and it's easy to see that Sutton is a commodity at peak value for a team still hoping to get more of an impact from its number 4/5/6 defensemen. If Wallin solidifies San Jose, then Sutton can surely more than help out a number of teams including Vancouver, Colorado, Philadelphia, Washington and maybe even a Detroit or Dallas. A return similar to what Carolina got for Matt Cullen should be a minimum in seeing Sutton be moved. And yes, that would help out this Islander franchise.

Dwayne Roloson/Martin Biron: Arguably our team's 09/10 MVP, Roloson has had some amazing showings for the Islanders this year. Several of our wins would arguably not have been possible without Roloson's fabulous performances. He is signed for another year and heading into next season with Roli and Dipietro manning the net would surely give the Isles a formiddable tandem, especially if Dipietro can regain his previous form at some point next season. Marty Biron is an excellent team player and spokesman. His terrible record this year includes a lot of losses where this team scored 2 or less goals for him. However, he has to be seen stamped as one of our on-ice disappointments this season. He's an affordable and solid 1B goalie. Unlike Roloson, he is an upcoming UFA.

Now, it seems we cannot yet count on Dipietro being able to finish off this season, even in a back-up capacity, but if there is any belief that he can, then it'd pure mismanagement to end this season with all three goaltenders on the Island. Now, Biron may not have the greatest of value, but there is likely a team out there that'd gladly send Snow a 4th rounder to pick up Biron for the stretch run and playoffs. Seeing Snow want to keep the Dipietro/Roloson tandem is completely reasonable and understandable.

On the other hand, Dwayne Roloson (who is under contract until the end of the 10/11 season) may be Snow's biggest trading piece. There are a number of expected playoff contenders whose current goaltending situation is anything but stable. In Dwayne, a team knows what it's getting. He's proven on several occasions that he's made of the steel that can carry even mediocre teams on successful playoff runs. Imagine what he could do with Washington's or Philadelphia's offence in front of him? Don't fret, because there are surely a few GMs out there pondering the same thing.

Doug Weight: I hope Doug Weight ends his career with us. I hope he remains with the Islanders and becomes a part of the franchise, whether in a coaching or administrative capacity, or heck, even as a commentator for the team. He's a model citizen and has surely played his role in the development of each of Tavares, Bailey and Nielsen. The demand is surely not that high for this often injured, one goal, 15 point man. His shoulder may not even allow him to finish off the season. Surely Snow would not move him just for the sake of doing so. As far as I know, young Tavares is still living at Weight's house. All this said, it is thoroughly conceivable that Weight himself has told Snow that he'd be more than happy to be sent to a contender for whatever in order to have one last shot at the cup. If this were to be the case, I'd have to think that Snow would surely oblige him.

Richard Park: Having arguably his worst season in some time, Park is the type of guy a number of teams could shore up their 3rd and 4th lines with. His apparent loss of a top gear and lousy +/- to date do not mean that he can't bring it for the stretch run and playoffs.

Jon Sim: Sim has earned every minute he's played this year. He's an extremely limited player, but showed himself to be the type of pest many teams crave come playoff time.

Trent Hunter: A warrior for sure, Trent has had a tough season. Despite a strong spurt coming off his early season injury, he's been very quiet for some time now. He's never been fleet of foot, but that's never been as glaring a weakness as in the past 25 games. In addition, he's not checking at the rate he had been prior to this season. He's got several years left on his contract, he's a big man and he serves his team well. He's grown up an Islander. As an individual piece, his value to this team is far greater than what he'd rake in. However, he may be what is needed to complete a bigger deal involving either Sutton, Weight, Biron or Roloson.

What I see happening:
Roloson and Sutton will be traded.

With a summer full of free agent possibilities on the goalie front, and a Biron who is healthy and himself could easily be resigned, I expect Snow to pit the bidders against each other to get this franchise the best it can for Roloson. He'll be a loss and his being traded tells this fanbase that "We're no longer playing for the playoffs unless what we've got just happens to surprise and be good enough to get us there!" However, some team is gonna give Snow something really nice for Roli the goalie and heck, it's not like Roloson is leading the Isles to a Stanley Cup victory this or next year. He surely is a pole of stability for this team, maybe even moreso in the locker room than we can know, but that may have to be sacrificed for the time being in order to benenfit even more greatly as soon as next fall.

As for Sutton, we have no verification whether or not he'll be seeking greener pastures this summer. It's his one last chance to sign for big money. In addition, as often as he says he likes it here on Long Island, Snow can always pursue him again after the season, as unlikely as his resigning here would be. Unfortunately, money is tied up in players such as Brendan Witt and Radek Martinek, and Snow needs to upgrade the blueline on whole anyways, so getting the max for Sutton now, while at the peak of his value, is the most logical choice to be made when all is said and done. The team would likely have to finish the year with Streit, Gervais, MacDonald, Meyer, Kohn, Witt and Hillen - a blueline lacking in physical fear-factor, no doubt.

If Doug Weight has given a move his OK, he could either be packaged with one of the aforementioned players or sent along in a Bill Guerin type deal. In his current form, he can still assist a team looking for more savvy in the line-up, especially on the PP. Seeing the types of names that have come and gone through the waiver wire, it's hard to believe Park or Sim would even garner late round picks, but then again, we know that for example, a team like San Jose is looking to shore up its very green 3rd and 4th lines with a defensively-minded veteran or two. No reason to think that Lombardi wouldn't be willing to part with a 5th rounder for a Richard Park.

What Snow will earn:
By March 5th, I suspect this team will have added the following
A) 1 highly rated prospect
B) 2 2nd round draft picks
D) 2 5th-7th round draft picks
C) Two mid-20ies bubble players who can fill in for the remainder of this season and audition for a bigger role in future seasons.

I also see us losing our 3rd or the one we have from Phoenix in the trading process.

One way or another, we'll know by March 5th at the latest.

Enjoy the rest of the Olympics!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Halfway Mark Review - Preview

Halfway Mark

Heading into this season, even the most diehard of Islander fans were well aware that this team was an unlikely playoff contender, much less a Stanley Cup contender.

Nonetheless, simply the additions of John Tavares and no less than two bonafide NHL goaltenders in Roloson and Biron could attest to this team likely becoming a more difficult team to beat, especially considering the number of U26 players on this team looking to up the ante to their games in a bid to establish themselves as effective and regular NHLers.

Where is the team after 41 games? 13th in the conference. Still, this placement in the standings doesn't tell the whole story. For the most part, the Islanders have been in the bulk of their games played and have successfully dealt with controversy, often coming back in order to gain a point, if not two. Injuries have occured, the gravest being the loss of top 4 Dman Radek Martinek for the season with an ACL tear after just 16 games. In addition, the team has been able to go 5-1-1 after having lost 4 in a row heading into the halfway mark of the season. It's been a rollercoaster ride of sorts, but the team is in the running and is staying within close reach of a playoff spot. What's more is that many teams have had a problem with the Islanders' aggressive style of play, which is taxing, but which causes opponents to cough up the puck more than any would like to.

BIGGEST PLUSES:
1) Dwayne Roloson - Needing a few games to get into the swing of things, Roloson has been solid to spectacular on most nights this season. He's been the number one reason for no less than 5 wins this season and slowly but surely progressed into an absolute rock. Attesting to his importance is how much better this team plays as a whole when he's in goal.
2) Matt Moulson - Who'd have thunk it? The best of our supposed AHL signings this summer, Matt Moulson has become the type of underdog hero that this franchise hasn't seen since Jason Blake. He goes where it hurts and constantly does what he can within his limits. Although 26, this is his first real gig in the NHL and he's been a key reason this team is in the playoff race, currently tied in the team lead in goals. Can he keep up the rags to riches story?
3) John Tavares - After the rough introduction Steven Stamkos had last season, many fans felt Tavares' rookie year couldn't be all that much better. In addition, he's had to deal with expectations that few players have ever faced. Despite having recently hit a wall, Tavares is tied with the team lead in goals and has already become this franchise's best offensive weapon within 5 yards of the goal. Despite a myriad of rookie mistakes and the realizations a young player experiences when entering this league, we can see the kid learning and improving. He's simply a young man with incredible instincts that'll are really going to be looking good by the time he's of legal drinking age.
4) Kyle Okposo - Finally getting back to the hoped for goalscoring pace, Okposo's sheer strength, work ethic and saavy have deemed him the unofficial leader of this team. There's good reason that he's leading this team in assists as well. He's got a good eye and he brings the puck to the net as much or more than anyone else on this team. It's sometimes amazing what he's able to do with the puck and how strong he can be along the boards. A star in the making.
5) Ken Sutton - It's been a while since he's been this healthy, but he gives this team a physical presence they haven't had in ages. His hip-checks are a thing of beauty and he's been surprisingly solid with the puck. In addition, this team looked lost when Sutton was out of the line-up. He is an absolute cog on this team at the moment.

BIGGEST MINUSES:
1) Inability to clear the zone - This team's repeated and continued inability to get the puck out of their own zone, even in situations where a clear should come with 100% simplicity and surety, has led to a number of goals against and several unnecessary losses, none worse than the 3-2 loss in Minnesota. The problem is simply incredible and should be out of every pro's game no later than when he's a bantam and yet this team regularly fails to clear the puck in situations where there should be nothing standing in the way of doing so. It's downright scary and sickening how inefficient this team is in this department, especially the forwards when they have the puck within 5 feet of the blueline.
2) Inability to hold a lead - Minus number 1is a key reason for minus number 2, but this team has entered a number of third periods with a 2 plus goal lead and have wound up giving up that lead. Youthful or not, the team and indirectly the coaching staff, has had a terrrible time of turning such leads into two points. No team at the pro level can be expected to win or even make the playoffs if this problem isn't nipped in the bud over ASAP. It has a lasting psychological effect on a team and this club has to get to the point where that's a sure thing victory every time.
3) Overwhelmed blueline - Ken Sutton has improved incredibly, and thankfully both Jack Hillen and Andy MacDonald have slowly but surely shown that they can bet positive influences on the blueline, but not a player on this blueline has been above-average. Whether it's an overload of responsibility or not, Mark Streit just hasn't been the same player he was last season. Witt, Gervais and Meyer have spent more time being weak links than positive posts in the first half of this season, and it shows in the standings.
4) Brendon Witt - He's a warrior and he's done a few very good things this season, but his general lack of skill combined with the fact that this game is simply too fast for him nowadays has turned our one time leader into the team's weakest link, at least statistically. The drop in his play the past two seasons has become so grave, that he may be out of an NHL job before next season begins.
5) Martin Biron - He's not necessarily been terrible, but he hasn't shown the ability to just make those few extra saves needed for a win. In his defense, this team has scored at a ridiculously low clip in games he's started, but no matter what the reason is, his record is currently abysmal. He's not making any argument for more ice time nor is he helping Snow find another home for him. His game is missing something and Gordon has been forced to turn to him less and less as the season has progressed.

What Lies in Store:
Having started the second half of the season very successfully, primarily on the strength of Roloson's great play and the offensive strength of Okposo, Hunter, Nielsen and the ever-improving Bailey and Schremp, this team is showing the hockey world that is fully intent on fighting for a playoff spot. We're watching the kids improve step-by-step and they manage to dig out a lot of points that they surely wouldn't have gotten last season.

Providing us fans with eternal hope, it's hard to predict what's gonna happen in the second half. Many keep waiting for this team to finally fall on its face, but it simply will not go away. Anytime a few players start slumping, it almost seems as if others pick up the pace. It's fun, it's exciting, it's downright unexpected - and we should all enjoy it for as long as it lasts. Dipietro is coming back, the team will have a lot of rested players after the Olympics, the Islanders had the most prospects of any team at the recent WJC tournament (including gold-medalist Donovan) and kids like Okposo, Comeau, Schremp, Hillen and Bailey continue to get better. Thus, there's a lot of positive things to look forward to over the second half of the season.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Snow pawns off Park, Biron and Sim at the trade deadline and this team will still be in the playoff race in the last week of the season.

Stat Pace after 41 Games

GOALIES:
Name GP W - L - T SO
Dwayne Roloson 52 28-14-10 0
Martin Biron 30 4-22-4 2



PLAYERS:
Name GP G - A - PT PM
John Tavares 82 32-24-56 20
Kyle Okposo 80 12-42-54 32
Matt Moulson 82 30-22-52 32
Mark Streit 82 8-32-40 60
Trent Hunter 52 14-18-32 12
Frans Nielsen 70 12-20-32 4
Josh Bailey 80 16-10-26 12
Richard Park 82 4-18-22 28
Jeff Tambellini 46 12-10-22 8
Sean Bergenheim 60 8-14-22 28
Blake Comeau 50 8-14-22 44
Jack Hillen 74 2-18-20 56
Andy Sutton 70 6-10-16 76
Jon Sim 78 8-6-14 56
Bruno Gervais 70 0-14-14 30
Rob Schremp 38 2-10-12 16
Nate Thompson 72 2-10-12 70
Doug Weight 22 0-12-12 40
Freddy Meyer 54 0-12-12 40
Brendan Witt 76 4-4-8 90
Tim Jackman 66 4-2-6 140
Jesse Joensuu 14 2-0-2 4
Andy MacDonald 34 2-0-2 16

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stolen from Forever 1940

 
The Islanders tied an NHL record by playing in their seventh October overtime game.  It didn't last long, as Mark Streit converted a pass from John Tavares 53 seconds into the extra session to give the Isles a 4-3 overtime win in Washington.  On to the trick:

1. The Islanders, who won just once in their first ten games, moved to within one game of NHL-.500 with the overtime win in Washington.  Kyle Okposo became the first Islander to score in the first period of a road game this season as he scored for the second consecutive game, before Frans Nielsen recorded his first two goals of the season in the second period -- the first time in his career that he has scored twice in a game, let alone a period.

2.  Alexander the Great (Ovechkin) scored on a first period power play for Washington while Tomas Fleischmann added a pair of goals in the middle session for the Caps, who had won six straight entering the game.

3. Dwayne Roloson made 37 saves and despite not being named one of the "Three Stars" was arguably the best player on the ice for either team.  Roloson made seventeen of those saves in the third period as he won for the second straight game.  The Isles have earned a point in six of his seven starts (3-1-3).  Jose Theodore made 26 saves for Washington.

...and a few more...

4.  The Isles conquered the "Post-Ranger letdown", at least for one night.  They are now 6-14-3 in their last 23 games following victories over the Rangers  They had lost four straight games that followed victories over the Rangers.

5. Scott Gordon finally beat the Capitals after five straight defeats, three of them in overtime.

6.  The Isles have now played seven overtime games (1 ot win, 1 shootout win, three overtime losses, and two shootout losses).  Eight of their first twelve games have been decided by a single goal.

7. The Isles have won consecutive games for the first time since March 7 and 8.  They scored four goals in a game (not including a shootout) for the first time since March 20th.  The win also broke an 8-game road losing streak (0-5-3).

8.  The Isles are 3-1-2 in their last six games, and have earned a point in four straight games (2-0-2) for the first time since going 3-0-1 last March 7-12.

9.  The Isles held Ovechkin to one goal on 7 shots. They also blocked four of Ovechkin's shots and four others missed the net. Radek Martinek played a team-high 24:44 for the Isles, much of that against Ovechkin, and was credited with four blocks.

10.  The season series is even at a game each, and at three points each as well (as the Caps won in overtime on Long Island last Saturday).  The teams play again in Washington on Veterans' Day, before concluding the season series on January 26th at the Coliseum.

Up next: The Isles begin a two-game homestand when they host Buffalo on Halloween night.  The Isles will be looking to avenge a 6-3 loss in Buffalo two weeks ago and get back to NHL .500 for the first time since opening the season 0-0-3.  The Isles have won three straight on Halloween since losing to Toronto in 1996.  The Isles will also be looking to win three straight for the first time since a four game win streak from January 21- February 3, 2009.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

From The Captain

Well, with the score 2-1 in the third - Bruce wants to bet me on when the Isles would blow the game. He said in regulation - I said in OT - How I wish I was wrong. But these guys can't close the deal.

Also, not impressed with Tavares, Okposo, Moulson tonight. Just tonight. Ovechkin was not much of a factor tonight - but that Mike Green :(

50-50 raffle = a paltry 1477 bucks (for a weekend)

Also, the State Farm Agent of the game was Anthony Petrozella of Queens.

They also played " No Sleep till Brooklyn" right after that Agent of the game announcement - is Wang trying to tell us something?

Lastly, Kristen McElroy (who is challenging Kate Murray) was in the house - and the team posted her on the jumbotron twice and invited fans to see her at Gate 12. Guess Wang and Murray's chat did not go so well :)

Oh well,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stolen from Forever1940

On Wednesday night, the Isles will look to avoid tying the club record for consecutive games without a win to start a season -- the record is seven, and is held by the 1973-74 squad (0-3-4).
 
On Thursday, the Isles will begin something almost as rare, when they make the first of two visits to Montreal in a five day period.  It's only the 8th time in club history that the Isles will play consecutive road games against the same opponent. 
It's the third time in club history that the Isles will sandwich a home game with road games against the same opponent.
 
The list:
12/31/86-1/9/87 @ NYR  (the Isles played two home games in between)
2/8/96-2/22/96 @ NYR (the Isles played four home games in between)
10/17/01-10/26/01 @ Carolina  (two home games in between)
3/19/02-3/28/02 @ Toronto (four home games in between)
4/6/06-4/11/06 @ NYR  (one home game in between)
11/28/06-12/2/06 @ Pittsburgh (one home game in between)
1/26/07-2/1/07 @ Atlanta (two home games in between)
10/22/09-10/26/09 @ Montreal (one home game in between)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quick Coliseum Report

50 - 50 Raffle was 1,570 bucks. NO STATE FARM AGENT OF THE GAME !!!

For those who were there - doesn't it seem like the "Game Operations" team has taken a big cut ? Very little in terms of seeing the Ice Girls, or other in game promos this time around.

Perhaps they had "Mascot Day' or - was it "Kids' opening day?"

I mention this - because I hear of major turnover in staff in the sales side? Comments?

They listed 12.500 or so as announced crowd - I say 8500 - lots of empty seats as folks had to work.

OH WELL

Go Isles

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Quick Look at Bridgeport

Last season's Bridgeport Soundtigers experienced their best season ever. Still, despite 49 regular season wins and 106 points, the team's season fizzled to a halt in a 5 game first round dismissal. As disappointing as that was, it certainly is understandable in light of a differing line-up and a bunch of younger players experience their first AHL playoff hockey, if not simply their first AHL hockey.

The good news is, the 09-10 regular season shouldn't differ all that much from the 08-09 regular season, at least with respect to the regular season standings. Many of the core components such as Nathan Lawson, Andrew MacDonald, Dustin Kohn, Mark Wotton, Trevor Smith and Jesse Joensuu are returning. They played key roles in last year's success and are each expected to carry their share of the load with the mother club expecting another step in development from each and every one of them other than elder statesman Wotton. The loss of several good veterans such as Chris Lee, Joe Callahan, Mike Iggulden, Jeremy Colliton, Ben Walter and Mr. McLean have been compensated for with the signing of other established AHLers such as Scott Munroe, Mark Flood, Brett Westgarth, Jeremy Reich, Greg Moore, Greg Mauldin, Bobby Hughes, and Trevor Gillies. That contingent could be enchanced by Matt Moulson, if and when he's sent down (uhhh, and he will be).

Of course, the best thing about this year's edition is that more of the Islanders' own draft picks than perhaps ever before will be looked to as regulars in the upcoming season. After an initial (and disappointing) year in the Swedish SEL, young trickster Robin Figren will be spending the season on the farm, and hopefully dazzling his way to a cup of coffee on the Island at some point this season. The returning 6'4", 200 lbs. Tomas Marcinko is returning after a rough rookie year and is hoping to take on a totally different role this season, especially with Rob Henningar having been traded. Pleasant OHL surprises Justin DiBenedetto and Matt Martin, both drafted as overagers, are signed and ready to go. They each had a pretty good NHL camp and both looked primed for a strong introduction to the pro ranks. Their Sarnia teammate and former 3rd round pick Mark Katic is expected to spend the season in Bridgeport and hopefully become a regular on the power play. The latest addition was this summer's 31st overall pick, goaltender Mikko Koskinen, who wasn't only drafted surprisingly early, but also an unexpected signing - one that must have been made with some conviction considering there was no rush and he was likely in line for 1st string duties in the SIM Liiga. To show that the surprises just weren't gonna stop coming, the Islanders also signed 2009 5th rounder Anton Klimentiev, likely just to keep him in North America and avoid any possible stress that could come with a signing in Russia. Whether he plays in the AHL, ECHL or even in the OHL (also drafted there this summer), Anton looks destined for a season in North America.

Also returning are regulars Sean Bentivoglio and Tyler Haskins as well as roughian fan favorites Pascal Morency and Michael Haley. Summer signee Jason Dale and Long Island's own Vlad Nikiforov are currently down in Utah while Jon Gleed and Jake Gannon appear to be in the picture for the Soundtigers, with Gleed likely lining up with captain Mark Wotton on opening night.

Topping things off was the addition of Long Island's own Tony Romano who scored 36 goals last season in the OHL. Coming over in a trade for Ben Walter, Romano has been strong this fall and looks ready to pivot one of the top 3 lines.

With a plethora of depth, an above-average goaltending trio, a great balance between AHL rookies & veterans as well as one of the most aspiring coaches in all of pro hockey in Jack Capuano, the only real weakness of note is the lack of experience on the blueline, although this group would have to be considered league average, at worst. All in all, the fans of both the Soundtigers and Islanders should keep a good eye on this team because it is really turning into a top address in the AHL while always keeping its focal point on player development.

Following is a breakdown of the type of pointage you the fans can realistically expect from the players this season.

GOALTENDING:
Munroe 25+ wins
Koskinen 15+ wins
Lawson 5+ wins

DEFENSE:
MacDonald 30+ points
Katic, Flood each 25+ points
Kohn, Wotton each 15+ points
Westgarth, Gleed, Gannon each 5 points

FORWARDS:
Smith 65 points
Mauldin, Moore, Joensuu, Moulson each 40+ points
Reich, DiBenedetto each 30+ points
Romano, Bentivoglio, Figren each 25+ points
Haskins, Marcinko, Martin each 20+ points
Morency, Haley, Hughes, Gillies each up to 10 points

Ohhhhh, and one last thing: expect this team to be involved in as many fights as any team in the AHL!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Curiosities Entering the Season

With the league and Islander stats predictions in and the home opener not even 36 hours away, one can’t help but have a few other questions about the upcoming season, for example:

- What role will the injury bug play this year? Arguably, few other teams have been hit as hard the past two seasons as our beloved Islanders have been. Will things change? Well, if the preseason is any indication…
- For a team putting heavy emphasis on younger players, we have a blueline that is long in the tooth and perhaps short on talent. As the lone draftee playing amongst the top 7, will Gervais continue to build on the steps he took during the second half of the 08-09 season?
- Other than Streit, who is going to man this team’s point on the power play? Hillen looked like he was getting a shot in the preseason, but last season saw players like Weight and Okposo get a good amount of time manning the points. Will Gordon look to go that route again, sometimes even having 5 forwards on the ice at once?
- Speaking of Gordon, he’s no longer got the bye of being a pure NHL rookie. At the same time, he’s hardly entering this season with a better line-up than he had last season. The question is, will the continuity of having retained a good 85% of the line-up allow this team to now show the true colors of Gordon’s more complicated overspeed system?
- Even more so than Gervais, Jeff Tambellini really turned things around down the stretch run last season. It seemed to come as a result of his readiness to be a player who contributes in areas other than scoring, which had been his chief responsibility at every other station thus far in his career. He does work hard and he is fast, but can he now take it all to another level this season?
- Roloson and Biron instead of MacDonald and Danis: on paper, a huge upgrade in the goaltending department. How much of an upgrade will it translate into in the standings?
- Will Streit solidify his standing as one of the NHL’s top 15 defenseman? I mean common’, can he really duplicate the type of season he had last year?
- Can any of Sim, Bergenheim, Comeau, Tambellini or Moulson be an answer in the secondary scoring department this season?
- Will any of the kids who took nice strides last season take a few steps back this year?
- Will Bailey quietly become one of the NHL’s top young two-way centers?
- How much of a jump will Okposo take after having a very convincing rookie year?
- At what juncture this season will we fans become more concerned about next summer’s draft than with our battle for a playoff spot?
- Once the trade deadline approaches, which of Weight, Witt, Biron/Roloson, Park, Sim, Moulson, Sutton, Meyer or Martinek – or anyone else deemed worthy of exchanging – will Snow be able to turn into another asset for this franchise? Or will we actually be able to be a buyer?
- The biggest off-ice issue in Islanderland? We should know by the end of the season if the Islanders’ future will take place on Long Island, or not.
- The biggest on-ice issue in Islanderland? In Tavares, we now have a Canadian kid who has garnered more attention than any other non-NHL player over the past two years. In fact, he simply is the most talked about kid coming out of juniors since Crosby joined the NHL’s ranks. Now his time has come to make his NHL dreams true, but he doesn’t necessarily have a lot to work with out there. Just what kind of season is he going to have?

Here’s looking forward to a nice start to the season as well as some positive answers to the questions above. The opener will see our Isles facing a Penguins team that is hopefully going to be showing signs of a Stanley Cup hangover. It’s also a team that might be coming in here without a few important players like Cooke, Talbot and the aforementioned Crosby. The Isles will have a few nights off after the big home opener and will then hit the road for games in Ottawa and Boston on Thursday and Saturday, respectively. By the end of October, our Islanders will have played roughly a sixth of the season.

For those in attendance tomorrow, have fun and make some noise!

More stuff stolen from Forever1940

With Trent Hunter on the Injured list, the Isles will start the season without the team's active leader in games played, goals, power play goals, game winning goals, assists and points as an Islander.
 
So who holds those distinctions now (only in games played as an Islander)?
(NHL.com now has a new stats engine that allows you to answer such pressing questions.)
 
Games:  Martinek 373, Park 235  (Trottier 1,123 is all-time club leader)
Goals:   Park 36, Bergenheim 30   (Bossy 573)
PP goals: Okposo 10, Streit 10     (Bossy 181)
GW goals: Bergenheim 7, Park 5   (Bossy 82)
Assists: Martinek 68, Park 53       (Trottier 853)
Points:  Park 89, Martinek 84       (Trottier 1,353)
 
Hunter is 87-110-197 in 381 games as an Isle with 21 pp goals and 15 gw goals.
 

 
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Stolen from Forever1940

The Isles will play their 37th Opening Night on Saturday.  The Isles are 9-19-8 on Opening Night; a .361 winning percentage.
 
Only two teams have lower percentages: (San Jose (.353) and Anaheim (.267))
 
Of course this will be only the 5th season that the Isles have opened at home (2-2-0)
 
They opened at home in 1972 (first game ever), 1980 (first banner raising), January 1995 (After lockout) and 1998 (after Gluckstern threatened to move due to leaks).

 
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

NYI STAT PREDICTIONS

For all you folks who enjoy magazines like McKeen's Pool Yearbook, here's a blog for you: your (un)official NYI STAT PREDICTIONS!

NYI: 34-40-8 for 76 points

GOALIES:

Dwayne Roloson
There’s little to say about Roli, a guy who has stuck around a long time and has somehow gotten better with age. He’s technically coming off his best season and is used to playing with goalies who are placing a claim on the starting role. Hopefully he’s like a fine wine that just gets better with age, because we’ll be needing just that if we’re to get anywhere in the standings. Since nominal and numeral improvement (however menial) is expected vis-à-vis the goaltending situation last season, Dwayne should ultimately be one of the main reasons for it.
Stats with Islanders:
17-22-4 in 46 games, 2.90 GAA, .912 SV%

Martin Biron:
A surprise signing, the guy is simply a bona-fide NHL starter who knows that the Island is serving as little more than a purgatory-style phase in his career. He'll earn some decent change to feed that brood of his and will hopefully gain a few wins for this team in the process - the type that goalies last season were not able to get this club! Still, expect him to be gone at the trade deadline - I predict to Philly:-)
Stats with Islanders:
12-16-2 in 32 games, 2.74 GAA, .916 SV%

Rick Dipietro:
As opposed to last season, Dipietro will not come back just to go on the IR again shortly thereafter. In addition, once he comes back, he is gonna look great. That's my call. He'll be extremely motivated and he'll give a preview of what type of wall he plans on being in the '10-11 season.
Stats with Islanders:
5-2-2 in 9 games, 2.38 GAA, .918 SV%

DEFENSE:

Mark Streit:
He came here looking like a power play specialist. He ended last season looking like one of the league's top ten defensemen. We knew he could put up some points; we found out he can do everything else as well. Tavares and Dipietro will continue putting in dibs as the face of the franchise, but the Islanders' best player is Mark Streit. I dare say he's better than any of Hamrlik, Aucoin or even Jonsson were!
Stats with Islanders:
12-49-61 in 75 games

Bruno Gervais: 6-20-26
No blueliner made as much progress last season as Gervais did. The question remains: did he really develop into a legitimate Dman for this team or was his success the simple result of being paired with Streit? I believe it was a little of both - and with Steit he shall play again. Part of the top pairing entering the season, young Gervais is refreshing and is a guy you see being very active in the community. He is a late-round pick and has earned his way to where he is now. He should continue being a block in the youth movement.
Stats with Islanders:
6-20-26 in 78 games

Jack Hillen:
The college UFA had an up-n-down first pro season and has looked pretty good in the preseason. He can skate and can move the puck. That means that he's got a heads up in a Gordonesque system. He'll get some PP time this season and will start to look like he wasn't such a bad signing after all. Still, he's not getting us any closer to a cup.
Stats with Islanders:
4-17-21 in 62 games

Ken Sutton:
A world of size, two seasons marred by injury, and a reputation amongst Islander fans as a player ever-so-ready to make the clumsy, botched up play. I myself wonder where that crazy-*** bastard I saw in Atlanta has gone? I'm not holding my breath, but I think we'll finally see a bit of that fella this season. It's a contract year for him. With several forwards getting point time on the PP nowadays, don't expect Sutton to keep up his surprisingly good offensive pace of last season (2-8-10 in 23 games).
Stats with Islanders:
6-12-18 in 69 games

Freddy Meyer IV:
Freddy played less than 30 games last season and I get the jist that many Islander fans still do not appreciate what he brings to the table, namely a hard, honest effort. He has had a few flashes of brilliance and I just know that there's a 35 point Dman in there somewhere, but he'll not be appearing on Long Island. He's a useful depth Dman. Expect him to quietly go about his business this season, probably his last with the organization.
Stats with Islanders:
2-15-17 in 72 games

Radek Martinek:
Truly one of the nicest depth defensemen in the league, Martinek is a guy who you just know will be spending at least a quarter of the season on the IR list. I suspect it'll be the same this season. He showed a surprising tendency to score goals last season, but he strength lies in being positioned intelligently and quickly starting the rush in the other direction. He's a good man... just wish we'd see more of him in the course of a long and hard season.
Stats with Islanders:
4-7-11 in 64 games

Brendan Witt:
Say it sooo folks, but Brendan Witt is looking like a fella on his last leg. Hopefully he'll provide a boatload of blocked shots and rough customer treatment, because there's not much there in either the skill or speed department. Fans like him and I wager the boys on the team do to. Let's just pray that some other team feels he can help their playoff run, because there's little chance that Witt's Islander career is extending past this season anyway.
Stats with Islanders:
1-5-6 in 58 games

Andy MacDonald:
Andy is currently the Dman in BPort who is closest to making the NHL. This sixth rounder, drafted as an overager as a Ted Nolan tip, spent a season in the ECHL looking like it'd be his final destination. He suddenly not only made it to the AHL, but even became a top-pairing Dman and was nominated to the AHL all-star game. He should get a cup of coffee on the Island because injuries are inevitable. Never thought he'd even become a topic, but he looks like this generation's Trent Hunter.
Stats with Islanders:
1-3-4 in 17 games

Each of Kohn, Katic, Flood and even de Haan could see a handful of games throughout the season. Another waiver-wire pick-up along the way shouldn't come as a surprise.

FORWARDS:

Kyle Okposo:
One can say that Okposo might have gotten a bit lost in the Tavares-hoopla this summer, but let there be no doubt that this young bronco is turning into the "Shane Doan" of the franchise. If it wasn't evident to you last season, it will be by the end of this season. Expect him to be our best player on many a night this season as he looks to earn a spot on Team USA, whether in the Olympics or at the WC in Germany. He can do a little bit of everything and is incredibly strong on the puck. We must hope that there'll be no ugly side affects with respect to his preseason concussion, because that's the type of thing Islanderland just doesn't deserve. Neither does Kyle.
Stats with Islanders:
24-28-52 in 75 games

John Tavares:
Don't expect tooooo much. He's a young rookie with a lot of expectations to live up to, but he's hardly surrounded by the type of talent that'll help him reach any lofty heights. You should however expect growth, progress and signs of quick learning. His first year may be steadier than last season's first overall pick, but it won't be all that much different statistically. Expect more setting up than sniping.
Stats with Islanders:
21-26-47 in 79 games

Josh Bailey:
Many will continue debating whether Josh should have stayed with the club and fought through last season or have been sent back down to captain the CHL's top team and perhaps even Team Canada at the WJC, which Canada hosted. Important for us now is that he's shown us no reason to believe that he won't continue improving in every capacity. He took huge steps in the course of last season and seems ready for more this year, his bulked up frame already being very noticeable. As a two-way forward, he'll be entrusted with a good load of responsibility this year and gosh darnit, Mr. Bailey might just be more than ready for it. Expect slight stat improvement and some crafty face-off tenacity.
Stats with Islanders:
14-27-41 in 76 games

Trent Hunter:
Trent just keeps on truckin', remaining a fan favorite, throwing as many checks as anyone in the league and always letting us think he could just be a 50 point man if he could get in a good 80 games. Alas, that hasn't happened recently and one of the league's most underrated players and best financial deals is just craving for the type of health and responsibility that'll let him be all that he can be. Expect him to be good when he's in the line-up, especially if playing with Nielsen, but injuries are to be assumed until proven otherwise.
Stats with Islanders:
16-22-38 in 62 games

Jeff Tambellini:
Last season really didn't go as planned for Jeff. The start to his season was just about as bad as it could get for a 24 year old with nothing more to prove at the AHL level and an NHL team simply GIVING him scoring line duties. Still, Jeff managed to turn into a player who went into the corners and held his own for the last 25 games of the season. His stats improved and he seemed to be a player who had started to "get it". Look for him to improve upon that this season and establish himself as an NHLer who just needed more time. He's certainly fast and hard working, so Garth's faith in him may yet pay off. Don't forget, it took Jason Blake a good while to establish himself as more than a 4th liner.
Stats with Islanders:
13-24-37 in 79 games

Blake Comeau:
Simple story here: Blake is a solid player. He is a good young winger who will continue to develop this season and is gonna be talked about on occasion - and not just by Islander fans. The scoring won't be off the charts, but he'll be among the more consistent Islanders and will play his part in improving the on-ice product.
Stats with Islanders:
12-25-37 in 77 games

Doug Weight:
In addition to Streit, Doug Weight is our leader extraordinaire and is most definitely THE spokesman on the team. His career as an announcer isn't far down the line, but for this seaon, he's got to help steer the ship. His production when he played last season really wasn't bad, especially for the first 25 games. Still, we have to expect more of the same in the injury department, something that already started this fall. He'll be our main man on some nights and, in addition to Streit, will regularly be the provider of the best passes we Isles fans will see this season, but let there be no doubt that his on-ice impact will be somewhat minimal when all is said and done.
Stats with Islanders:
8-26-34 in 61 games

Frans Nielsen:
Gotta love the Frans. He actually had a mighty fine little season for a 3rd line center breaking in. He too suffered a brutal injury incurred in part due to that one unnecessary hit by the Devils' Mottau, but when there, he was a swift and hard-working guy who even went where it hurts. Smart is a good way to describe him. Unfortunately for us, he's hurt his knee again and he'll start things up late this season. He should however continue to bring the same intelligence and prowess once back and do expect him to score more goals than he did last season.
Stats with Islanders:
11-21-32 in 66 games

Sean Bergenheim:
Many are hoping for big things from Sean. I am too, but expect injuries and groin problems to continue to be a part of his world. The 20 goal plateau is thoroughly realistic, but things are gonna have to go well for Sean in the health department and with respect to chemistry with his linemates. He'll show some great things this season, cut down on the dumb penalties and will even be the star of the game on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, this won't be the season he establishes himself as a scorer.
Stats with Islanders:
13-11-24 in 62 games

Jon Sim:
From Botta to Sim himself, we've heard that the guy just had a wrotten seaon last year stemming from his ACL tear the season before. He's working hard and trying to resuscitate his NHL career. Snow surely had hopes that he'd be a 20-15-35 type player when he was signed to a million per a couple of summers ago, but it hasn't worked out. That'll not change this season, even if he does get plugged in all over the line-up. Look for Sim to be waived with every opportunity and some team will take him later in the season. His contract is almost over.
Stats with Islanders:
11-8-19 in 53 games

Richard Park:
He's the little engine that could and an extremely valuable depth and role player. That will not change this season. What will change is his modestly strong production, because fact is, it's time for the younger guys to get more of those minutes that Park was getting the past few, injury-riddled seasons. In fact, if things go well in the development department, look for Park to be a topic at the trade deadline - guys like him can help in playoff runs.
Stats with Islanders:
7-12-19 in 59 gams

Matt Moulson:
It shouldn't be too surprising for Islander fans that this apparent AHL signing has found a way to stick to start off the season. He signed here knowing it may be his last NHL chance and just two seasons ago, he was one of LA's big hopefuls. He has shown a little chemistry with Tavares but no-one should expect it to turn into a regular gig. He should help us as a depth player who scores the odd goal, but Moulson will get lost in the numbers game if we should have any luck in the health department. By season's end, he'll either be manning the first line in the AHL or will have been dished off at the deadline to a team willing to add him as a depth player for the playoff run.
Stats with Islanders:
8-6-14 in 47 games

Tim Jackman:
Jackman came out of nowhere with improved skating last season and took quite a beating as a roughian in order to earn himself an NHL contract - which he got. He's an ample 4th liner and has shown an incredible willingness to "take one for the team". Gotta respect him though, because the boys in that locker room sure do. He's simply not a real fighter, but he's willing and will shed blood for this team again this year. That's important for an Islander team lacking a true enforcer. Has developed into a decent penalty killer.
Stats with Islanders:
3-5-8 in 70 games

Jesse Joensuu LW/RW:
Many fans were ready to simply pencil Joensuu into the line-up. Not sure why, but I believe it had something to do with his size and +22 on the farm. Newsflash: the young Finn just isn't ready yet. Time for him to role up his sleeves and work on being productive on the farm, even when it means potting the garbage goals. He has a possible NHL future and the tools are there. Skating has improved and he can even dazzle a bit. He'll take strides on the farm and should be a real option next fall. Expect another cup of coffee this season, muchst like last season.
Stats with Islanders:
2-2-4 in 9 games

Trevor Smith C/F:
Last year's most improved AHL prospect, Smith has gone from college dropout to ECHL all-star to top gun in BPort in less than two calendar years. He got a long look this preseason and he's a guy with a nose for the net. Size and speed may hold him back, but he offers a good depth option with room to improve. Should be one of BPort's go-to guys once again. Breakthrough not coming this season.
Stats with Islanders:
2-1-3 in 16 games

Jeremy Reich F:
Gordon coached him for several years and he's a guy who has 50 some games of NHL experience. His willingness to be a middleweight and play aggressively will likely see him get some time on the Island this season, especially when Rechnlicz's knuckles are too sore. Just a depth player who could have a big leadership impact with Bridgeport.
Stats with Islanders:
1-1-2 in 10 games

Justin Dibenedetto F:
Drafted as an overager and blossomed as an offensive player who can put up points without Stamkos. He's gonna be in BPort for most of the season, but expect him to get a cup of coffee and actually register a point. He'll be more productive on the farm in the second half of the season.
Stats for Islanders:
0-1-1 in 4 games

Matt Martin:
I'm getting the fever. A few weeks back, I didn't think he'd be signed, but he came to camp looking like a man on mission. He did some nice things in the preseason and showed a willingness to fight, actually holding his own quite well. Now I'm excited. His season will begin in the farm system and I'm not sure if he'll start off in BPort or Utah, but I'm simply looking forward to him getting ice time. He simply needs to play. There is ample reason to fear that any perceived set-backs will bum him out a bit, but I think he's gonna spend some time on the Island and we're gonna find ourselves liking him real quick!
Stats with Islanders:
1-1-2 in 18 games

Joel Rechlicz RW:
He'll be around. He wants to be a heavyweight and that is something we don't otherwise have. He's young and enthusiastic. Expect him to stick on the Island as a 14th forward and play every couple of games, and all of the games against the NYR, Philadelphia and Toronto. Also expect him to have more than 200 PMs this season. He'll get beat a good share of the time, but Islander fans will appreciate his blood 'n gutts attitude and demeanor.
Stats with Islanders:
0-1-1 in 43 games

WILDCARD

Robbie Schremp C:
No matter what you think of this pick-up, pretty much EVERY Islander fan is majorly curious how it's gonna turn out. We all know that there are several examples of young guys who needed little more than a change of scenary in order to finally bloom. Will Schremp be one of them?
Stats with Islanders:
5-12-17 in 38 games