The New York Islanders have been quiet this off season, but that is just what this team needs: Stability and consistency.
By Michael Iuzzini
The New York Islanders have notably been reluctant so far this offseason in making any severe changes to the team. The signing of Thomas Greiss, to be Jaroslav Halak’s back-up, has been the one major voids that general manager Garth Snow went out and accomplished.
Currently, the Isles have focused their intentions internally by re-signing Thomas Hickey and locking up Anders Lee to a four-year extension.
The club is going into battle with essentially the same team as last season. Snow and staff are keeping the core of the squad intact, which shows the players the confidence that the decision makers have in them.
This is exactly what the players want. The team has expressed that they are a brotherhood and with the abundance of change circling the organization bringing back coaches and keeping the tight-knit group together is the wisest choice in starting this new era.
Last season’s early exit in the playoffs against the Washington Capitals did not sit well with the team. The players felt they let down their fans and hopefully that disappointment will fuel them into this coming season. The boys are hungry and will come out of the gates strong come this October.
Snow’s major signings were completed during last season as he worked diligently to get both Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk signed to seven-year deals.
Parting ways with Lubomir Visnovsky and trading Griffin Reinhart has paved the way for Ryan Pulock to land a spot on the Isles roster. If Pulock shows up to camp and is NHL ready the kid is going to be highly needed to quarterback the second power play unit.
There are still plenty of gaps and question marks that need to be addressed. The major issue is finding a solid left winger for John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. The revolving door of wingers all season long created zero stability for JT. Coach Jack Capuano juggled lines on a consistent basis in effort to keep a permanent first-line intact.
One has to wonder if Snow had made any calls to Toronto regarding Phil Kessel. I’m sure he did some investigating on what the cost would’ve been in acquiring an elite scorer. We are all well aware of Kessel’s track record on how difficult of a player he is to coach. Someone like Kessel could have interfered with the chemistry the team has.
What Snow and company did do was pick up some extremely skilled athletes in the draft. The team is no longer in the rebuilding phase and the young players they did acquire establishes a strong foundation in a not to distant future that will keep the team competitive for an extensive amount of seasons to come.
The successful draft helps raise the grade for what the team has so far accomplished this off-season. The talented group of draftees include, Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauville, Mitchell Vande Sompel and Ryan Pilon.
Even though much of the roster is already penciled in for opening night, the players that were drafted by the Islanders can find themselves in Brooklyn in the not to distant future. There is also Kirill Petrov, Joshua Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle chomping on the bit to make the NHL plunge.
With the lack of moves and free agent signings the overall grade could be a solid B, but we have to look at the bigger picture before truly judging. Snow can have something brewing and be keeping his cards close to his chest. Nobody expected Snow to pull off getting Leddy and Boychuck on the eve of camp last season.
The decision in not going out and overspending for a free agent or completing a trade that may have a negative domino effect to the team is the correct call.
Even without big name signings, you have to respect the judgment by Snow and staff to leave things as they are.
A quiet off-season might just be exactly what this team needs. The decision makers are handling the team perfectly.
Overall Grade: B+
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