Well, how about this Islanders team? It is going to have a different look and feel to it, thanks to some key players leaving and some new additions into the fold. The off-season seemed to bring this team a few more character players, like Andrew Ladd, P-A Parenteau and Jason Chimera, we might finally get a look at some of their youth that they have been coveting in Michael Dal Colle and/or Josh Ho-Sang, so yeah... this will be a different team, indeed.
It does become increasingly difficult to project numbers for a team that has drastically changed, when Kyle Okposo isn't there anymore, nor is Frans Nielsen and maybe to a lesser extent, Matt Martin. Still, I currently see an improvement on the horizon for the Islanders and I think they can move up from a wild card team to a divisional contender this season, assuming that all the pieces fit.
|Michael Dal Colle||F||30||Y|
|Calvin de Haan||D||15||N|
Table last updated on August 5th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
After Thomas Greiss carried the Islanders through their playoff run last Spring, there are some legitimate questions about how much faith is left in Jaroslav Halak, making him the most intriguing player on the team, heading into the 2017 season.
I think you can argue that Halak has the better skill set for being a number one goalie, he does have a bit more flair and a knack for some big saves, while Greiss will stand in there as a solid guy, but might not steal as many games, which leads me to believe that Halak is going to still get the better of the split.
If the Islanders were to go with Greiss over Halak in the 2017 season, I would have to expect that the Slovak would be dealt to accommodate getting more playing time, but with his groin problems at the end of the 2016 season, he may have to prove he's healthy before we get to some of these other questions.
First Round Picks
There is every expectation that someone will be pretty happy taking John Tavares in the 1st round of the hockey pool draft in October and he should be able to provide that team with ample offense in the coming year. Now that Okposo is gone, the question of who his main linemate will be next season will be a big one and one we won't be able to answer until training camp and/or the first preseason games.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Whoever gets the job of being on Tavares' line will certainly get more of a boost to their numbers, but for now, the pool worthy forwards are in significant numbers for the Islanders, as seven more forwards should be able to get up to pool worthy status in the coming year, barring injury, of course. Andrew Ladd will likely get a sizable role with his new team, while Anders Lee will be another guy to watch out for, as he needs to bounce back from an average 2016, a season after setting some high expectations for himself.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Nick Leddy needs to really stand up and shine this season, if the Islanders are really going to make that push and he should be the top pairing guy that guides the way for this team. The Islanders are not shy on blueline potential and a kid that could finally make the jump up this season would be Ryan Pulock, who I have down near the bottom of the worthy ranks, but can increase his standing with a good camp.
Well, since I've already tackled the goalies up above, the keepers waiting in the wings are not too bad either, especially J-F Berube, who acted as the back-up, while the Islanders were in the playoffs last year. If Halak is still ailing from his groin problem, gets dealt or Greiss can't seem to go, he would be the guy that's next in line. A long shot, but one to keep in the back of your mind.
Team To Pick From?
The Islanders scored quite a few goals last season and with the changes in place, there is no reason why they couldn't do the same again this season. If I think the changes for this team in the off-season were a positive, then it would make perfect sense to think that they would be a good team to choose from late in the draft, if you were struggling to find a player to fill one of those late round slots.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The ownership of this team has changed and the philosophy will likely change with it, giving Garth Snow a little extra money to play with, year after year or until he doesn't have his job anymore.
As we come to the midpoint of August, the Islanders are still without Ryan Strome on their payroll and they only have about $4+ million in cap space to get the job done with the restricted free agent. Strome's body of work suffered in the 2016 season, but I am expecting somewhat of a bounce back year, if he can get his deal done.
Everything looks good for the Islanders, at this point in the Summer. No hiccups are anticipated, but we still have to make it through the World Cup.