Ahead of the 2018 season, the Islanders haven't really made too many moves, unsure of it was a lack of trying or an actual lack of pieces to make a move or two. No, the Islanders brought in one new key face and shifted out some salary, all likely to keep a very important piece of their franchise around for the foreseeable future.
John Tavares is currently on the final year of his contract, which will bring him to unrestricted free agency and it doesn't sound like an extension will be negotiated any time soon. So, the Islanders need to show their best player that they are looking to improve around him to help him win or else they could very well face life without him.
So, in saying that, what kind of personnel shifts have been made? Bringing in a new winger in Jordan Eberle was the big move of the summer, as Tavares has been without a reliable sidekick for a couple of seasons now. I'm sure the team is keeping their fingers crossed that some of their youth in the system will finally be ready, but there is just no guarantee there right now.
|Calvin de Haan||D||20||N|
Table last updated on August 14th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
Of course, Eberle is the man of focus heading into camp, as he is the guy that is supposed to kick start this offense into relevance again and thus convince Tavares to stick around and sign a new long-term deal.
Eberle has been up-and-down, in terms of his point totals over the last few seasons, but he has still been able to pot at least 20 goals in each of the last three seasons, meaning he can find the back of the net. If the Islanders can add a Josh Bailey to this mix and watch it work, they could have some playmaking and finish to get excited about.
I don't think you'll be finding any of the top three Islanders in later draft positions, so you'll have to be fairly confident about how much scoring you're going to get from these guys, if and when you take them.
First Round Picks
The Islanders are going to live and die by the way John Tavares plays and right now, he only looks like a fringe 1st round pick to me. He's more than capable of doing some good things, he should be scoring a point a game (or more), but the uncertainty of how he's going to mesh with his new linemates this year, really puts a damper on what his overall totals are going to be like. Getting to know Islanders management over the last few years, doesn't necessarily have me convinced that they have all of those pieces in place.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Looking beyond Tavares and Eberle, the Islanders are not exactly short on talent, it does appear to be there and they will have a number of bodies up front, who will contribute. Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson are really coming along with the team, but they could use a little more help, Anders Lee runs hot and cold, Josh Ho-Sang finally seems to have found his groove, now he needs to improve upon it and Andrew Ladd needs to play well at both ends of the ice. This group of forwards isn't bad, they just need a push.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
Nick Leddy has improved year over year on the island and he still comes across as underrated, so he's a sneaky pick if you can get him. Johnny Boychuk, Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey are good supplemental defenders, all three have been relatively consistent, in terms of good supporting scoring, maybe for the later rounds in the draft.
After last season's goaltending disaster, one would have thought that Jaroslav Halak would have been the man sent out of town this year, but instead it was the third goalie, J-F Berube, leaving the pairing of Halak and Thomas Greiss intact. Looking at it from the outside, I would say it's a Greiss-heavy split, but only barely, because after last season's treatment of Halak, why would he want to play for them again? New coach? Maybe.
Team To Pick From?
A trio of forwards have some potential to play sleeper in these projections: Jason Chimera, Casey Cizikas and sophomore Anthony Beauvillier. These guys are on the outside looking in, according to the projections, but each possess the ability to find the net, some possibly more frequently than others, but they're there.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
There doesn't appear to be anything outstanding on the unsigned free agent pool with the Islanders, but there is going to be a little bit of play, one would have to assume, when it comes to deciding the final roster. The team still has about $3.6 million in unused cap space, so they will be able to send players up and down with ease, unlikely to feel the pinch on opening night.
There were a couple of minor injuries at the end of last season, but only one is worth mentioning today, as it was announced this week, that Shane Prince will be expected to miss the next 4-to-6 months after undergoing surgery on a high ankle sprain, which wasn't healing on its own. His projections for the year have been adjusted for missing upwards of the first four months of the season.