An independent blog on the New York Islanders, the NHL and AHL by a guy from New York.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

KoC 2018 NHL Entry Draft Preview

Swedish Defender, Rasmus Dahlin is heir apparent for the #1 pick at this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Dahlin is a solid, all-around NHL ready defender and won’t be around for the Islanders at the number 11 or 12 pick in the first round when New York has the option to select some of their future without losing a lot of assets going out in return. What Lou Lamoreillo and his staff will do next week isn’t known to anyone but them. The top needs for the Islanders are a premiere NHL Goaltender and a top pair D-Man. Trades will probably be made and change is surely coming to next year’s roster for New York. How much this summer’s draft will play into the future is a discussion for another time. We all knew the buzz on Mathew Barzal, but few thought he would be the favorite for the Calder after his rookie season. Will will know Wednesday night after the NHL Awards are announced. While the Isles have a draft party planned on the 22nd, there is always a chance for the top picks to be flipped in a package. A move like this can immediately address some of their more pressing needs to compete for a Stanley Cup by adding veteran players needed to fill holes heading into next season.

A couple of days ago, Darren Dreger mentioned That Isles Captain, “(John) Tavares is now focusing on negotiations with the Islanders on an extension. Daily discussions last two weeks. A deal could happen quickly, or if negotiations stall, Tavares still has flexibility to consider options during interview period. Lou Lamoriello has been speaking with Tavares on a constant basis...sharing his plan/vision of the Isles moving forward.” The recent rumblings have Isles country more optimistic on the possibility of J.T. staying home for elite money. Some have even speculated a possible home-town discount similar to the one Stamkos gave the Lightning in 2016 at $8.5M over 8 years with a NMC.

Tavares had to be waiting to see what the Isles new direction would be this summer after years of unsuccessful gambles and reclamation projects. Adding Belmont and Lou Lamoriello to the mix are strong reasons to consider staying with the team who drafted him first overall in 2009. There have been other rumors of J.T. waiting for the new NHL salary cap to be announced before signing to increase his yield and remain with the Isles. The Islanders are the only team who could sign him to an 8-year deal. That deal could be a buy-in with the Isles for the future or a sign and flip scenario for another team who wants him prior to July 1 to avoid a bidding war if he chooses not to remain in NY. The future plan will surely change based on the decision Tavares makes, but the Islanders have an NHL Entry Draft to attend to this week.

Our New York Islanders have 8 picks in next weeks Entry Draft at #11, #12, #41, #43, #72, #103, #134 and #196. If they go the draft route, I’ve compiled a list of players I could see them going for with their top 2 picks. A first and second round pick were acquired as part of a package by Garth Snow in Exchange for Travis Hamonic last year, adding to this seasons yield.

Evan Bouchard, D, 6’2, 193# (London, OHL): Bouchard is a big, smart, all-around Canadian D-Man who loves to join the rush, carry, pass and fire the puck. His game has improved and so has his ranking on most-everyone’s list. His size and durability means he can be a problem for other teams’ skilled players and an anchor on defense for big minutes. His intuition allows him to anticipate, read and react in all zones and his noted work ethic means he has a good chance to adapt to the NHL game.

Quinn Hughes, D, 5’10, 170# (University of Michigan, NCAA): Hughes is solid with the puck, makes good decisions and could be a very good NHL PP QB one day. The team USA defender has been called an elite defensive talent with a balance of speed and hockey IQ whose been known create space in all zones and set up plays on the rush with his creativity. Hughes also has the ability to make the opposition pay for their mistakes, in short, a complete defensemen.

Adam Boqvist, D, 5’11, 168# (Brynas Jr, Sweden): Boqvist is another gifted Swedish defensemen in this year’s draft. A modern, offensive D-Man, Boqvist can carry the play with his stick handling and his skating can create plays and open the ice whether on the rush, moving through the neutral zone or creating room around the net. His vision and offensive flair makes him a threat to the opposition, drawing defenders to him and has the tools to finish offensively.

Ty Smith, D, 5’11, 175# (Spokane, WHL): Smith is a leader on the ice and did so as Captain for Team Canada’s Gold Medal U18 squad. Smith is known for his solid skating, insatiable work ethic on and off the ice with an upside that compares with the best defenders in the 2018 Draft. He has also won WHL First All-Star and Scholastic Player of the Year honors last season.

Joel Farabee, LW, 5’11, 164# (USNTDP): Seen as a possible top 10 talent, this gifted LW may slide down due to his smaller size. What the Team USA product, Farabee doesn’t lack character, work ethic, skating or vision on the ice and the ability to make things happen. If he’s still available and with some time to develop in a pro system, he could become a steal for a mid-round first round pick.

Serron Noel, RW, 6’5, 205# (Oshawa, OHL): Noel is said to need more development, but has the tools required to be a power forward at the NHL level. His size and grit will make him a big asset to park in front of an opposing team’s net and let him finish chances down low.

These are my best guesses without trading up or down. It’s very possible packages of picks, prospects and players could be traded next week and the Isles organization could improve without adding many picks. There is also a chance they use many or all of their picks, even to trade up and down or simply add the best players available with the knowledge Management has approval to be aggressive at the July 1st open to free agency.

Here’s to doing what needs to be done.

Isles Notes:

The Islanders preseason schedule has been announced.

The NHL will announce the 2018-19 regular-season home openers for all 31 clubs on Wed., June 20 at 1 p.m. ET.

Per Arthur Staple, “Confirming SNY report, Greg Cronin was let go by #Isles. No other coaching decisions have been made as of now, at NHL or AHL level.”

Per Chris Botta, “As a follow up, I was contacted after article posted by two dismissed coaches from #Isles organization (who requested anonymity) who said they were fired Friday, June 8.”

The 2018 NYI Draft Party is on Friday, 6/22! Music, family activities, & appearances from special guests.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Lamoriello & Isles announce Steve Pellegrini as Assistant General Manager

Today, our New York Islanders added to their hockey operations pool. President and General Manager, Lou Lamoriello announced that Steve Pellegrini has been named Assistant General Manager. He will work alongside current Assistant General Manager Chris Lamoriello and should give the Islanders an even more stable leadership foundation from the top, down.

Pellegrini was with the New Jersey Devils as the Vice President of Hockey Operations since 2006 and should have a strong familiarity with Lamoriello and his S.O.P. Per release, “With the Devils, Pellegrini worked on all hockey-related matters, including and not limited to, contract negotiation/salary arbitration preparation, collective bargaining agreement/salary cap compliance, scheduling and scouting. Steve brings over 20 years of knowledge and experience to our hockey operations,' Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello said.”

Pellegrini worked with the Edmonton Oilers as Director of Hockey Administration (1995-1998) and has spent years working for the NHL from 1991 until the start of his tenure with Edmonton in a Community Relations capacity. After his term with the Oilers ended, Pellegrini went on to serve as Group Vice President for the NHL's Central Registry Department (1998-2006) where he served on the league's CBA negotiating committee and assisted on CBA rules and regulation enforcement.

Per @capfriendly, “While in #Toronto, Lou Lamoriello likely saw the benefit of having someone on his team with a strong understanding of the CBA & the advantages of having someone well versed in the ins & outs of the salary cap." 

Rumors are that Lou Lamoriello expects to have a head coach in place by middle of next week. It’s probably best for new-look team’s approach to NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency anyway. And it’s usually key for free agents to know before they are willing to commit. Per Lamoriello, “We're going to get the best coach available. Different coaches are for different teams. Whether I know them or not will not enter into the decision.”

The next few weeks should be huge for Isles country. Look for possible player movement, trades and a few unexpected surprises. And the J.T. watch heats up in a big way.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Lamoriello: Snow & Weight Relieved of GM & Coaching Duties, Remain with Organization

Lou Lamoriello was named the New York Islanders President of Hockey Operations. When he was, we all knew changes needed to be made from the top, down in the organization. Today, Lou Lamoriello announced today that Garth Snow and Doug Weight have been relieved of their duties and General Manager and Head Coach. Weight's entire coaching staff may be on the block as well. Per release, "The New York Islanders would like to thank both Garth and Doug for their dedication to the franchise," Lamoriello said. "Both started their tenures with the franchise as players and grew as tremendous leaders to the positions they held." Snow and Weight will remain with the organization in another capacity.

Thanks to ESNY for photo

For now, Lamoriello will immediately take over the responsibilities of General Manager heading into the draft under advisement of the scouting staff, free agency and during that time, begin the process to find the team's next Head Coach per release. Per Chris Triantafilis, “Since Snow was hired, other division rivals have made it to SCF in 8 of last 12 years.” The change at GM has been a long time coming. We all know of Snow’s big moves as GM, but the painful reminders of his failed shortcomings have limited the team’s ability to win more than a single playoff series and make serious strides as an elite NHL team. A culture change has begun from the top, down.

Lamoriello will take part in a media call at 4:30pm today. 


What else is coming and how soon?

Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple, "Brock Nelson now repped by Ben Hankinson at Octagon. RFA center's previous rep had a rather contentious negotiation with #Isles during the summer of 2015 and signed his deal on the eve of camp. No word on any talks with Lou Lamoriello as of now."

The @NYIslanders have extended their affiliation agreement with the Worcester Railers Hockey Club of the ECHL through the 2019-20 season.

Icethetics rumors to Isles 3rd Jersey.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Islanders Name Lou Lamoriello Team President

So, the Lou Lamoriello rumors got a little more substance today when Arthur Staple mentioned Lamoriello “will be running the Islanders’ hockey operations in a matter of days, sources confirmed to The Athletic on Monday.” He joins his son Chris, already Isles Assistant GM. Lou Lamoriello was removed as GM for the Maple Leafs for Kyle Dubas at the end of April. Over his esteemed career as an NHL executive, as GM of the Devils, Lamoriello helped solidify New Jersey and win 3 Stanley Cups. As GM of the Leafs, he helped add top talent and enabled the Leafs to make the playoffs before losing to Boston, 4 games to 3, last season. Lamoriello joined the Toronto organization in 2015 and was the reason behind drafting players like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

It’s been confirmed that Lou Lamoriello will be running hockey operations as Team President. His new role will be to oversee ("having full authority") any and all hockey operations for the New York Islanders. He is reserving any further comments at this time. That means 12-year GM, Garth Snow (4 playoff appearances and 1 playoff round win in 2016 vs. Fla) could be reassigned with 4 years remaining on his contract or fired with a “steep buy out,” per Staple. Sources say Snow and Lamoriello are close friends, so I’d expect him to remain in some capacity, or even stay as GM under his watch, but he has fired people for much less over his tenure in the NHL. Garth Snow and Doug Weight were in Denmark scouting the Worlds’ last week.

Elliotte Friedman added a few details today as well. “I'm not exactly sure how it will all work, but we've all believed Lamoriello will eventually run the NYI hockey operations department...and it's believed he represented the Islanders when he spoke to Tavares … More details are to come in the next few days, but there was contact last week between UFA-to-be John Tavares and former TOR GM Lou Lamoriello … On Lamoriello/NYI/Tavares contact, I’m told that in the eyes of the NHL, there are no issues with the process.” It seems like the Ownership group of Malkin and Ledecky want it to be so. And I doubt they stop at Lamoriello. Rumors of former Islander, Tom Fitzgerald, is possibly in line to join the front office as well - perhaps as the GM to Lamoriello’s President? The next few days should be interesting. Will moves like this be enough to keep impending free-agent and team captain, John Tavares in the organization?

Staple added, “Malkin has been meeting regularly with Pat Brisson, Tavares’ agent, and those two most likely arranged the sit-down. The Dec. 20 announcement that the Islanders won the right to develop an arena at Belmont Park was a big step towards that respectability, especially in Tavares’ eyes. 'For my situation, it’s really exciting news. I’m not going to say it’s going to change or ultimately make my decision, but everything that’s involved in my daily life plays into it and going to the rink, playing games is a big part of that,’ Tavares said at the press conference that day.”

Lou Lamoriello brings a no-nonsense, accountable, proven NHL level executive presence to a franchise in desperate need to reinvent their image and change a culture of mediocrity and crap-shoot gambles. Some may see the 75-year-old as a bit of the old guard, but the man knows hockey. He proved what he could do with Brendan Shanahan in rebuilding a solid base for a struggling but respected and sacred franchise in Toronto. The New York Islanders have quality free agents to evaluate and a lot of moves to make this summer, even before the July 1st open to free agency. The new-look management group have the 11th and 12th picks in June’s NHL Entry Draft, along with some NHL and prospect talent to negotiate with. It starts with Tavares, then a quality NHL netminder and a few more pieces to perhaps galvanize a new culture for the organization, poised to reinstate its winning traditions with Belmont on the horizon.

What will today's move actually mean for our New York Islanders? I can’t wait to find out.

Isles Notes:

Anders Lee and Team USA win Bronze at 2018 IIHF Worlds.

Isles Draft Party is set for June 22nd at 5:00pm at the old Barn.

Per @IgorEronko, “Thing is I heard it from his Russian agent. Who will get NHL licence soon. Spoke a bit to Sorokin today. Said: 'Sure, someday I would be proud to be a part of NY rivalry'. Money is a factor absolutely. But so is doubtful management. Sorokin is the highest paid CSKA player now.”

Per Arthur Staple, “Been asked about @IgorEronko's tweet re: Sorokin and Snow. Here's what I know: -- It's still about $ -- Sorokin makes a lot of it in the KHL and doesn't want to play on a 2-year ELC. -- Sorokin's US-based agent was Snow's agent. Would be an odd way to show he dislikes GS.”

Per Rob Taub, “These words from my interview with Jeremy Roenick: “If the Islanders don’t get a goaltender in the offseason, I’m convinced they don’t want to win anymore.” #Isles

Sound Tigers Notes:

The @NYIslanders have signed Travis St. Denis (F) to a two-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) deal.

The #AHL will have a new division alignment in 2018-19.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Tribute to the Memory & Legend of the Architect: Bill Torrey

Today, we learned of the passing of Isles legend, Bill Torrey. Torrey was the “Architect” of the Islanders Dynasty and built a team so well and so skilled, they may never be duplicated in the modern age of the NHL. Torrey went from the AHL and later served as GM for the NHL Oakland Seals, New York Islanders and Florida Panthers, who until the Vegas Golden Knights, showed what a model expansion team could do by making their way to the Stanley Cup finals in 1996 before losing to the Colorado Avalanche in four games.

Known for his bow ties and eye for talent, Torrey brought on Isles Legendary Coach, Al Arbour and took “the other team from New York” and forging them into an instrument of brute force and talent. Cory Wright wrote, “He was the first man in the door, becoming the team's first general manager on Feb. 15, 1972.” After Arbour, Torrey added Potvin, Trottier, Morrow and the immortal Billy Smith to the Islanders organization and knew the way to win was to build through the draft and add key pieces at the right time. Torrey surrounded his future star players with a team Arbour could mold and hone into the legacy that became Long Island’s team. Torrey and Arbour challenged each other and pushed each other to create the dynasty. Their friendship was evident two years ago when Torrey gave a moving speech at Arbour's memorial service. "He choked up at the end saying how much he missed his close friend and confidant a year after his passing. On this day, the hockey world is mourning Torrey." Mr. Islander, Bob Nystrom said, "They had a partnership there," Nystrom said. "It was a partnership. They got along so well and Bill was just one hell of a great guy.” 

"He certainly led a charmed life and a meaningful life with all that he did," Morrow said. "I looked forward to when I would see him to catch up and thank him for all that he did for me." After he was named team President in 1980, Torrey even had the foresight to add the final piece of the puzzle, trading popular players Billy Harris and Dave Lewis for a 29-year-old veteran center named Butch Goring. What followed was 19 consecutive playoff series wins (a pro record that still stands) and four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83. Torrey even engineered the loss of LaFontaine into a trade for Turgeon, Hogue, Krupp and McLlwain and eventually added Thomas and Creighton. Even though he resigned in 92, those players became the nucleus for the Isles surge in the 93 playoffs when they dethroned the 2-time Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins and came close to contending for the cup that season.

Nystrom said of Torrey, "He was the guy who gave me a chance to play in the NHL and for that I owe him a debt of gratitude," Nystrom said. "He saw something in me and was willing to give me an opportunity. He did that for a lot of players. Had a real good way of reading character and what was really inside a person. He's going to go down as one of the greatest GMs that every worked in the NHL."

Islanders President and General Manger, Garth Snow said, "Bill set the model for how to build a franchise with the leadership he instilled through his coaching staff, his innovative drafting methods and the trades he executed," Snow said. "He was a pioneer, who became a mentor and even better friend, to so many in the industry. The teams he constructed set records that may never be broken, including the four straight Stanley Cup Championships and 19 straight playoff series wins. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to Bill's family."

The tales of Mr.Torrey’s respect and earned loyalty were much like those that were spoken of Mr. Arbour. Like the legendary Jiggs McDonald, Bill Torrey always seemed to be a special part of my fandom. And based on the words of his players and those around the organization, the tributes speak to the kind of man others saw in him. Torrey’s legend will live forever and deservedly so. He helped build some of the greatest hockey memories of my life time. The team he built took a kid born in Yonkers and who grew up just above Westchester, right in the middle of Ranger’s country to become a die-hard fan of our New York Islanders. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.

Mr. Torrey was 83.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

2018 KoC New York Islanders Season Review, Part 2

Part 1 examined the Organization, Coaching, Special Teams and the Forwards for the season.

Part 2 of my 2017-18 Isles Season Recap focuses on Defensemen and Goal tending with a summary of what the summer may hold for Isles Country.

The Islanders tried an offensive first oriented system, as we explored in Part 1 of my recap, and it yielded results. At least for a while. Eventually, the attack oriented defensive scheme started to fail the Islanders. “Injuries, horrible defense, goal-tending and several other challenges seemed to derail the team and keep them from ever getting back to winning. The defense and goal-tending was so bad, the Isles were the worst in the NHL, surrendering 3.57 gpg, 35.6 spg and a league low, 73.2% PK rating.” That spelled failure in the team’s ability to compete and gain ground in the second half of the season, especially after the All-Star break. Per Eric Hornick, “The Isles have allowed a goal six times in the final two minutes of regulation to either tie or win a game,” last season.

The injuries and dependence on young, promising, but less experienced defenders cost the Islanders penalties, goals and points in the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Injuries to UFA’s, de Haan and Kulemin hampered the shot blocking, defensive and PK. They weren’t the reason for the team’s demise, but they didn’t help. The Isles generated 5 shorthanded goals, but surrendered 11. They were 2nd worst in the NHL (COL-13) for goals surrendered while on the PP advantage. Whenever a team allows a league-high shots per game (35) and their goal tending puts up an inconsistent performance in net, that team will lose and blow leads despite any offensive ability.

Let’s look at the Isles Defenders and their performances over the past season.

Nick Leddy is a stable defenseman who the Isles have relied upon in the most important situations since they acquired him in October of 2014. He helped the PP and shored up their blue line, developing into a first pair D. Leddy finished 6th in scoring for New York with 10 & 32 for 42 points in 80 games. The reliable, unshakable Leddy had a catastrophic -42 rating. Like Cizikas and Clutterbuck, Leddy felt the sting of the Isles offensively oriented scheme and as a solid, veteran defender who logged a team-high 22:25 minutes of ice time, he took the obvious brunt of the damage trying to stave off the opposition’s top attackers in each-and-every situation. Leddy isn’t a -42 defender and whether you hold much stock in plus/minus or not, seeing that number attached to Leddy’s season-ending stats is alarming. His play should correct itself next season when the Isles figure out their shortcomings from last season.

Ryan Pulock got better and better as the season went on. While logging 68 games, His defensive awareness and PP abilities took a great leap forward despite the team’s finish. One can argue he has the stuff to emerge as a top 4, or possibly top 2 defender in the near future and that coupled with his offensive ability (10 & 22 for 32pts) should make everyone take notice. He finished at a -4 rating. Pulock joined Isles Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier and Jordan Eberle on Team Canada for 2018 IIHF WC. Per Erik Hornick, “Pulock finished with 10 goals on the season, which is 3rd in Islander history (Denis Potvin-17 and Vladimir Malakhov-14). His five power play goals are also third; only Malakhov (7) and Potvin (6) had more.  Pulock finished 7th among Islander rookie defenseman with 32 points in his rookie season.”

Thomas Hickey had a strong year for the Isles defense and continues to be reliable when he is in the game. He led all Isles D-Men with a +20 rating. Hickey scored 25 points (5 & 20) in 69 games. Per Eric Hornick, “Thomas Hickey established a career high in points (25) and tied his high in assists (20). Hickey is a UFA this summer.

Adam Pelech was another younger player who showed tremendous progress as the season went on. Pelech looked more comfortable in his own zone and minimized mistakes or turnovers last season to finish with a +7 rating in 78 games, 4th best rating on the team.

Johnny Boychuk battled injury for most of the season, missed the final 2 games and went into the summer set for an undisclosed surgery (per Brian Compton) to address an injury that was said to be nagging him for most of the season. Rumors say it was presumed to be an upper-body injury. Hopefully, he will be ready for training camp. Boychuk played in 58 games and tallied 6 & 12 for 18 points with a -8 rating. Boychuk continues to bring his physical brand of play and scores at crucial times, netting him a D-core high, 3 gwg, tied for third on the team (Tavares, Bailey, Nelson) behind Eberle’s team-leading 7 and Barzal’s 4.

Scott Mayfield’s grit is something the Isles need and he, like other young blue-liners on the Isles roster, is getting better on-the-fly when he had the opportunity to play. Mayfield had 12 points in 47 games and a -6 rating.

In my opinion, UFA, Calvin de Haan’s defensive game and shot blocking was missed after he was suffered another shoulder injury in December. de Haan was 3rd in ice-time (18:45) at the time of his injury per Arthur Staple. de Haan had 12 points in his 33 games of action before losing the rest of the season on the IR. His health has always been questionable, but de Haan is a solid defender. This summer, his negotiating leverage probably won’t be as strong as he would have liked, so we will have to see if he continues to factor into the Isles future plans on defense. But based on the team’s second half season missteps, it might be better than most of us think.

UFA, Dennis Seidenberg finished the season with 5 points and a -9 rating. Seidenberg didn’t have as much jump in his 28 games this season and at 36, is probably bound for free agency.

UFA, Brandon Davidson came to the Isles via trade (2019 3rd rounder) with the Oilers at the deadline. Davidson is a role-playing, physical, bottom pair defensemen who made some plays and added depth for the stretch, finishing with 2 points and a -8 rating.

Per Arthur Staple, “Now I can confirm: #Isles have not reached out to anyone connected to Slavs Voynov. Zero interest.”

The Islanders were let down by their Goal tending, especially in the second half of the season. Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss had huge first seasons since being brought to the organization, but both have faltered since. This isn’t to say that they are to blame, both faced a ton of shots and odd-man opportunities, but over the course of the season, they needed to be better, and they were not.

Jaro Halak finished 28th (out of 95) in the NHL with a 20-26-0-6 record and 1 shut out in 54 games. Halak had a 3.19gaa and a .908Sv% on 1,744 shots. Thomas Greiss finished 42nd in the league. Greiss was 13-8-0-2 in 27 games and 1 shut out with a 3.82gaa and a .892 Sv%. They have a case to make for the efforts the team gave in front of them and the goals against were a byproduct of the Isles allowing a league worst shots per game at over 35. Even so, the save percentages have to be better. NHL goalies have to climb above 90% consistently for their teams to compete every night. I don’t see Halak returning and Greiss needs to be better next season. I’m sure no one is more disappointed than him. Well, I might be able to think of a fan base more frustrated, but just call that a hunch.

Prospects in net:

Although a bit out-of-date, I did a complete write up on their major goal tending prospects in Mid-march.

UFA G, Christopher Gibson had a good year in Bridgeport (19-14-3, a 2.42gaa and .906Sv% with 4 shut outs in 37 games) following last year's physical setback and finished 75th in the NHL with his 8-game stint with the Islanders, going 2-3-0-2 with a 3.65gaa and a .908Sv%. He should be retained with a 2-way contract and at least be given a chance in camp.

UFA G, Kristers Gudlevskis was brought in to make an impression and he might be a good option for the Sound Tigers, depending on the European and present, but unlikely Russian prospect possibilities. Gudlevskis finished his first AHL season with the BST, going 12-16-5, a 2.83gaa and .897Sv% and 3 shut outs.

Eamon McAdam played only 9 games in Bridgeport and spent most of the season Worcester Railers, losing in the ECHL playoffs. McAdam his talent and skill, but isn’t ready for the NHL just yet.

The Linus Soderstrom rumors to surfaced that he was leaving the Swedish Elite league and HV71 to come to North America and start playing for the Islanders organization. Soderstrom had an off-year, battled injury and the odds, but the Islanders have to be excited to give him a shot to make some noise in camp and bring him into the fold.

Per hockeysveirgeSwedish goalkeeper Lars Johansson did so well in the semifinal with his CSKA Moscow that he now gets the chance from the start of the first Gagarin Cup final against Ak Bars Kazan.  Apparently, Isles stud prospect Ilya Sorokin floundered and found himself in and out of the line-up. Would this change his desire to stay with the KHL or not? He still has 2 years left on his last KHL deal.

In 2012, I wrote an article on the disappearance of once top Isles goal tending prospect, Mikko Koskinen. Fans might remember Koskinen as the winning NYI keeper in the storied 9-3 win and revenge game against the Penguins. Once thought an option to the Isles for next season, now, it appears he is jumping ship with the Edmonton Oilers for 2 years at $2.5M per year.

Arthur Staple has another option, “Another Russian G option for #Isles? Garipov is 26, played the past 7 seasons with Ak Bars Kazan, just led them to the KHL title.” 

Aivis Kalnins of Hockey Buzz stated the same opinion, so could Emil Garipov now be in sight for Islanders? 

With Koskinen going in a different direction, the Isles could “explore different options' and in this case the newly crowned Gagarin Cup champion - Emil Garipov. The 26-year-old goalie who has been very consistent in his career and is looking to make the jump to North America. His contract with Ak Bars ends on April 30th and after the season he had - he will be sought after by NHL teams.

In 47 games during the regular season, he averaged 1.99 GAA with .931 SVS%. In playoffs, he was lights out the best player on the ice, 1.55GAA and .944 SVS%.

Although this chase won't be easy for the Islanders, as many as four teams including the New York team have expressed interest in his services. Asking range is expected to be slightly higher than Mikko Koskinen's but the term is what team and player will have to negotiate.”

No matter what happens in net and on defense, it better be something substantial and it had better work.

In Summary:

This Summer, the Islanders brass has some decisions to make indeed. If management and coaching remains in place, the priority is on defense and in net. The first piece of the puzzle is revealed at the draft lottery this Saturday.

Per Erik Hornick, “In addition to their own picks, the Isles own Calgary's first two picks in the upcoming entry draft.  The Isles hold the 10th pick and 11th pick heading into the upcoming draft lottery, giving them a 6% chance of winning the lottery.” Per, “The 2018 NHL Draft Lottery - which will be held Saturday, April 28, in Toronto (NBC, CBC, TVAS) - will consist of three drawings: the 1st Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting first overall, the 2nd Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting second overall and the 3rd Lottery Draw will determine the club selecting third overall.” 

Picks 15-4 will be revealed during Saturday's San Jose-Vegas playoff game on NBC at 7:30 P.M. ET. Picks 1-3 will be determined during the second intermission.

Chris Lamoreillo will be representing the Islanders at the Draft Lottery and one of their 1st round picks could be a franchise defensemen named Rasmus Dahlin going first overall or at least high sought currency they can use in trades unless there is one of other those “can’t lose” first round selections to make.

UPDATE: Isles retain their 12th pick from CGY, but their own higheer selection originally slated for the 10th spot dropped to 11th in the first round with Carolina winning lottery to move down in draft order.

After that, the team needs to tool for the draft and address their UFA’s, most notably, their franchise player, John Tavares. The longer they wait, the lower his return will be. Tavares and the ownership owe it to the organization and the fans to make this priority #1 and come to a resolution one way, or the other. Re-sign, sign and trade or trade, whatever happens should bring back an elite home-grown player or a serious package of NHL talent, prospects and picks. I would like to see Hickey, de Haan and Kulemin comeback, but only for the right price.

The options are there and there are serious things to build on from this season, but just as many to learn from. That learning needs to go from ownership to management to coaching to the guys on the ice. Forget the major players for a moment, the franchise legacy and the fan base has earned it for still being here and showing up with the level of passion they have for the team.

Get it done.

Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple, “Mentioned in @FriedgeHNIC's 31 Thoughts and by @RealKyper today on radio: Lou Lamoriello and the #Isles. Nothing's been decided in Toronto yet and Lou does have his son and Chris Terreri in #Isles org. He and Snow are tight. It makes sense, but logic isn't always the best guide. With the Malkin/Ledecky evaluation timeline going pretty deep into the offseason, if there's a move to be made, Lamoriello makes sense because of his ties to people already in #Isles org and to Snow, who would seemingly move upstairs. Something to watch for sure.”

Anders Lee named as the #Isles King Clancy Memorial Trophy Islanders Nominee for his accomplishments in the community.

Per Anders Lee, “Proud to be @NYIslanders nominee for the @NHL King Clancy award. Thanks to all who support and donate to our cause, and to my teammates for always helping. These guys do a lot in our community and deserve some recognition too. I especially want to thank my friend Fenov, who bravely battles cancer daily and continues to inspire me and many others. He does this with a smile always on his face. He’s the reason I @jamkancer.”

Per Cory Wright, “Past #Isles to win the Calder: - Denis Potvin 1974 - Bryan Trottier 1976 - Mike Bossy 1978 - Bryan Berard 1997 It would be really cool to see Barzal join that list.”

'Jiggs' McDonald among this year's class of Orillia SportsHall of Fame inductees.

Chris Botta, "As 'evaluation' continues, plenty of hockey execs available to Isles."

Residents air concerns in meeting with Belmont Park developers.

Could Singh have saved the Isles?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Barzal Named Calder Memorial Trophy Finalist

When our New York Islanders selected Barzal in the first round (16th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, I’m sure they expected to have a very good prospect in their system that would eventually pan out to be an offensive contributor and make an impact on the team someday. When he was the final cut, Barzal went back to Seattle and returned to the Thunderbirds, winning the 2017 WHL championship. Barzal was also named WHL MVP of the playoffs with a 7&18, 25 points performance in 16 games.

For the Islanders, the 20-year-old Barzal was a major contributor this season, especially when paired with long time team-mate Anthony Beauvillier (who was the player to beat him out for that final roster spot that season) and 1st year Islander, Jordan Eberle. Barzal had such a break out year in his rookie season, the NHL named him one of the three finalists for rookie of the year and should be the favorite among the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to win the Calder Memorial Trophy. Brock Boeser (VAN) and Clayton Keller (ARI) had great years, but not like the one we saw written before our eyes. Barzal had 20 more points than Keller, 30 more than Boeser who missed 20 games due to injury. Barzal also had an impressive 1.04 pts/game average (with less shots on goal) over Keller (0.79) and Boeser (.089) and was the only one among the three non-playoff team rookies to end the season with a plus rating and 27 PP points. Mathew Barzal even led his own team in points (85) and assists (63) in an exciting 82 game rookie campaign along with an impressive 22 goal scoring tally.

The Calder Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to "the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League." Barzal wasn’t just a solid rookie, he quickly became a solid NHL player who gave the opposition problems trying to contain his swift skating, powerful and adept puck handling and alert play-making. The NHL awards will be handed out at the Hard Rock in Vegas on June 20th and the choice for Barzal securing the trophy should be an easy one.

As mentioned in Part 1 of my Season RecapBarzal was one of only five NHL rookies with 63 assists in a season with Crosby being the only active Alumni of this club. Barzal was mentioned in the same breath as Islander’s greats, Brian Trottier (63 assists), Denis Potvin (rookie to lead team in pts and assists). In total points, Barzal ranks third just behind Trottier (95 in ’75-76) and Bossy (‘77-78). His 9 game with at least 3 points and 3 five point games and scored his first NHL hat trick against the Jets in December. Don’t forget that Barzal was drafted by the Islanders after the Bruins passed on the 13th, 14th & 15th picks in his draft year. The Isles traded Griffin Reinhart to the Oilers for the 16th (Barzal) and 33rdpicks. 

We came that close. Sometimes, things happen for a reason. In this case, Isles fans everywhere are so glad this one did. The future is still bright.