Injuries were the biggest problem for the Islanders in 2014, losing their best players at the Sochi Olympics and then numerous goaltending injury concerns, which turned a promising year before the Olympic Break into a tailspin into the off-season.
Assuming all goes well on the injury front for the Islanders, I think the moves that were made, will make this team into a wild card contender and I think that could translate into some reasonable hockey pool numbers from this team. I believe the projections will speak to that as well.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|John Tavares||85||5.500||Lubomir Visnovsky||35||4.750||Jaroslav Halak||75||4.500|
|Kyle Okposo||70||2.800||Thomas Hickey||30||0.675||Chad Johnson||20||1.300|
|Frans Nielsen||60||2.750||Calvin de Haan||25||1.967||Kevin Poulin||5||0.650|
|Josh Bailey||45||3.300||Travis Hamonic||20||3.857|
|Michael Grabner||45||3.000||Brian Strait||15||0.775|
|Mikhail Grabovski||40||5.000||Matt Carkner||5||1.500|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||2.204|
|Anders Lee||30||0.851||Griffin Reinhart||20||0.863|
|Cory Conacher||25||0.600||Kevin Czuczman||10||0.925|
|Jack Skille||10||0.750||Matt Donovan||10||0.827|
|Mike Halmo||5||0.864||Aaron Ness||5||0.827|
First Round Picks
This team has the potential to have two opening round picks this sesaon, given a 24-team hockey pool draft, like last year. The given pick is Tavares, but if there is more belief in the hockey pool, that the Islanders could be a wild card playoff team, then that means Jaroslav Halak will have to be playing at a rate where his points on the year will be good enough for being picked early in the draft.
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
If Halak is worthy of being a 1st round pick in the draft, then that, to me, makes him the most intriguing player on this Islanders team. Halak has bounced around in the NHL, usually failing to usurp a position as the number one keeper on a team, be it Montreal, St. Louis or Washington. I think the fact that the Islanders have only signed on career back-ups behind Halak is the best sign that the 29-year old Slovak will have himself a career year.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Looking at the Islanders on paper, they are likely going to throw the kitchen sink at this season, trying to push for that playoff spot. They have acquired some more depth up front, which could translate into some more pool points from Long Island. Kyle Okposo will try to show the rest of the league that his breakout year was not a fluke, Frans Nielsen should quietly go about a good season, while Josh Bailey and Michael Grabner will attract some attention from us poolies as well, possibly breaking out more than their initial projections. If you're looking for some good depth players, this could be a good place to look.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The defense does give a cause for concern, especially since their number one guy, Lubomir Visnovsky, is coming off a concussion-marred year, where he was still having some problems at the end of April. I don't think he'll be quite the same, but he will definitely give it a go. Thomas Hickey has finally came around from being a junior standout to an everyday defender in the NHL and his talent will earn him some points. Calvin de Haan is still waiting for his every day job, but he came pretty close in 2014, playing in 51 games. This could be his year.
Halak is on top, no question, so the debate rages on... who will back him up? The Islanders went out and signed Chad Johnson, who had a great year in Boston and they will give a shot to Kevin Poulin, who played last season on the island. Johnson will have the upper hand going into camp, but I wouldn't count out seeing Poulin at some point during the year. Johnson will be a decent back-up option, if you missed out on the starters.
Team To Pick From Late?
The Islanders may see some picks late, more so by default. The big guys will go relatively early, but there should be some guys left in the depth positions for you to choose from. I think this team goes all out in the 2015 season and they might surprise with some points in unexpected places. Take a chance.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Islanders have no one left to sign and their projected roster does have 23 players on it currently, although the goaltending race may need to be clipped, since they will probably want to hold seven defenders. However, for our purposes today, we'll call it according to this 23-man roster and the distinction for this team is that they are still a budget franchise. Only $5.5 million above the salary cap floor, the Islanders are in no danger of going in the red financially.
It sounds like Visnovsky is clear of his concussion and is ready to get back to it. The Islanders should be clear of any injury concerns going into training camp.