Saturday, July 2, 2011

New York Islanders' 2011 Offseason

Under Garth Snow, the Islanders have been progressively rebuilding. The organization is now in a transitional phase in which it is trying to balance the opportunity to contend for a playoff spot this season with the opportunity to contend for a Stanley Cup in ensuing seasons. In this situation, it is important to draw distinctions between players who are in the short-term plans and the long-terms plans.

Below are prospective short-term and long-term depth charts for Islanders.

Short-Term Depth Chart
C: Tavares / Bailey / Nielson / Reasoner
LW: Moulson / Parenteau / Martin / Gillies
RW: Grabner / Okposo / Comeau / Hunter
D: Streit / Eaton / Jurcina / Hamonic / Mottau / MacDonald
G: DiPietro / Montoya

Long-Term Depth Chart
C: Tavares / Strome / Sundstrom / Nelson | Nielson, Lee, Haley
LW: Niederreiter / Moulson / Parenteau / Bailey | Kabanov
RW: Okposo / Grabner / Comeau / Petrov
D: de Haan / Hamonic / Wishart / MacDonald / Mayfield / Hillen | Donovan
G: DiPietro / Poulin | Lawson, Nilsson, Koskinen

Given this outlook, I believe there are three keys for the Islanders trying to solidify themselves a spot in the playoffs this upcoming season as well as also giving themselves the opportunity to become a serious title contender in the near future. The squad must decide on a nucleus, consolidate the remaining talent, and keep winning the primary task at hand. While these keys focus on the players, it is also critical for the organization to establish were it will be playing once its lease runs out pretty soon. This matter cannot be neglected; however, it is not the focus of this article (roster moves will be the focus if it has not been evident so far).

Anyway, as stated before, management must decide on a nucleus. The Islanders have an abundant number of pieces with a limited amount of ice time available to be distributed. Snow has to settle on concrete top two lines for 2013-14 season and stick with most of the players he decides on while using other players as trade chips. All the players that Snow may envision on the 2013-14 squad may not necessarily be on the Isles right now. The abundant youth that the Isles have should be used to acquire a top-flight player or two if Snow believes that he can mold a better team than what is available within the organization.

Branching from the first key, the Islanders must then consolidate its talent once a nucleus is decided on. The team should try to maximize the value of players outside of the core nucleus sooner, rather than later, because limited ice time (or playing in the AHL) may actual hinder the development of players who are ready to be regular players in the NHL leading to a loss of value. A trade should be in the near future for the Isles. Garth Snow has shown interest in acquiring a defenseman which narrows in who the Islanders should expect to join the squad on Long Island.

Finally, the Islanders should place winning foremost. The organization cannot allow DiPietro's contract to restrain the team's success. If he DP is not a starting goaltender, then the Isles must accept him as the most expensive back-up and move on with a starter. While we continue to hope the DP will be able to stay healthy and possible be the goaltender the organization expected when the team drafted him first overall and signed him to one of the longest contracts in sports history.

Given these keys and the Islanders current circumstances. I believe there is an attractive trading partner in the Winnigpeg Jets. Last season, the squad formally known as the Thrashers put together a disappointing season leaving the team as a non playoff contender and with a weak farm system. The Jets have a few tradeable players in their prime who can be shipped off to help renovate the team's rebuilding process as playoff contention seems unlikely after last season. I suggest sending a bulk of youth (specifically, two centers, a winger, and two defensemen) for a prime defenseman and one of Winnipeg's marquee goaltenders. This will allow the future to come sooner for Isles while Winnipeg creates foundation for itself by creating a  young group of promising players that fans can grow with.

2 Centers: (Sundstrom, Nelson, Nielson, or Lee)
Winger: (Comeau or Bailey)
2 Defensemen: (Wishart, Mayfield, Hillen, or Donovan)

Defensemen: (Dustin Byfuglien or Tobias Enstrom)
Goaltender: (Ondrej Pavelec or Chris Mason)

There are two important notes on this proposition. First, the salary exchange is not even. The Islanders are well under the cap and an increasing cap only provides the organization with more available space. Second, I have only offered a group of possible players who could potentially be moved. Obviously, I do not have the same resources available as does someone in the position of Garth Snow so only he knows which players are the best fit for the organization. It is a tough trade on both ends. There is a swap of quantity and potential for quality and production. It is a high risk and high reward trade on both ends as all-stars and even more potential all-stars can be moved. However, it allows players who would be seeing limited ice time on Long Island to go out to a refacing franchise and create a foundation.

Hopefully, Winnipeg is a good fit for this franchise and the Islanders can continue to play in Nassau County.


  1. we are all islanders!!!

  2. I love Islanders ever since. Come on. Let's give our support to Islanders.