NHL Season Preview: Islanders

John Tavares.

There was John Tavares in the New York Islanders’ dressing room offering his State of the Union a few minutes after he and his teammates routed the Devils, 6-2, in a preseason game.
 
“We want to play fast, play hard, and make it tough on teams to control our skill and what we bring to the table,” Tavares said. “Everyone knows their role pretty well and what they bring to the table. [Head coach Jack Capuano] has done a great job of creating a system where everyone is effective in it and know what they have to do to contribute to the team.”
 
General Manager Garth Snow has been adamant in his belief that the franchise would not deviate from its youth approach to building a team. Snow’s philosophy is about to pay off in a big way for a franchise that, at one point, was professional sports’ blueprint organization before it fell on hard times.  
 
FORWARDS

A plethora of riches. Tavares, the No.1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, is improving on a game-by-game basis. He ended last season with 29 goals — one of five Isles to score 20 or more. Michael Grabner led the team with 34 goals and partnered with Frans Nielsen to form a dynamic penalty-kill duo. Matt Moulson finished with 31 goals, which marked the second year of 30 goals for the former Los Angeles King. Burgeoning power forward Kyle Okposo recorded 20 points in 38 games and third-line wing P.A. Parenteau broke the 50-point barrier for the first time in his NHL career.
 
Last year’s first-round pick (fifth overall) Nino Niederreiter is expected to make the team. The right wing played nine games last year totaling two points and eight penalty minutes before being returned to the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks. Niederreiter had 41 goals, 70 points and 67 penalty minutes in 55 games at Portland.
 
DEFENSE

No team suffered a worse injury to one of its athletes last season than did the Islanders, who lost Mark Streit in training camp to torn labrum and torn rotator cuff. The Islanders’ power play finished 17th in the league without its quarterback and the team ranked 27th out of the league’s 30 teams in defense. What the organization did learn was that Andy MacDonald and Travis Hamonic made for a solid shutdown pair. Calvin De Haan could make the jump from OHL Oshawa to the Island.
 
GOALTENDING

Like the forward and defense positions, there’s depth and more depth in goal. Like Moulson and Grabner previously, Snow may have stumbled onto something with Al Montoya. Montoya, acquired from Phoenix midway through last season, posted a respectable 9-5-5 record with a 2.39 GAA and .921 save percentage. Evgeni Nabokov attended camp and according to his teammates and GM, there are no ill feelings towards the former Shark, who did report to the team after not being claimed on waivers in January. Rick DiPietro and his $4.5 million cap hit is on the books through the 2020-21 season.
 
PREDICTION
: What killed the 2010-11 Islanders were their 20 losses in 21 games early in the season. That won’t happen again. For argument’s sake, had the Islanders gone 10-10-1 in that stretch, they would have earned 21 points. They finished last season with 73. Add those numbers together and they would have been the Eastern Conference eighth seed.
 
Snow signed Tavares, Grabner, Okposo and Moulson to extensions over the summer instead of spending in the free-agent market. The organization believes it must keep its youth because free agents are disinclined to sign with the Islanders because of the condition of the Nassau Coliseum and the franchise’s long-term uncertainty. Still, the perception of the Islanders would have changed for the positive had the franchise made a play for RFA’s Drew Doughty, Shea Webber, Zach Parise or Steven Stamkos. Moreover, in a stacked Eastern Conference, one of those four players might have boosted the Islanders to their first playoff berth since 2007.


Follow NHL writer Denis Gorman on Twitter
@DenisGorman for coverage of all the local teams.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…