IslesBlog’s 2013 Draft Day Review

     

Draft Day always marks the beginning of the season for me. It brings fresh faces to the team, trades are made, rumors heat up, and with Draft Day passing you know Free Agency is right around the corner.

     This year’s Draft Day was nothing but excitement from the get-go. The day started early, with the announcement of Parker Milner signing with the Isles. Milner, the 6’1, 200 pound G from Boston College, lead the Golden Eagles to an NCAA Championship in 2012. His 34-1 record, and 1.66 GAA lead to him winning the MVP award that year. His large frame and quick glove make him a scary tender to face when skating in on net, and he certainly was a quality pickup at his age. Milner has a tremendous upside to him and with the proper training and care, can possess real NHL potential.

      Then the news of the day dropped, Nino Niederreitter traded for Cal Clutterbuck. If you follow me on twitter (@IslesBlog) you already know how ecstatic I am to have a player like Cal on this team. Cluts is a Matt Martin type, but with a scorers touch. He adds to a lacking physicality this team had, while also poses a quiet scoring threat, while on the ice. In the 3 years that Cluts lead the league in hitting (2008-2010) he posted 11, 13, and 19 total goals, which is a scary stat for a 25 year old. His 92 points in the last 4 seasons makes him a quality 3rd liner, though I see him playing alongside Martin and Cizikas on the 4th. As stated yesterday, if you are still sour at the idea of trading a 5th overall pick for a bottom 6 winger, don’t be. In time, you’ll see why Minnesota fans are currently in an uproar over Cal being traded, he is pivotal player and will be a main figure for this team.

      My final key moment is the Isles 1st round pick of Ryan Pulock. Pulock is a 6’1, 210 pound Defensemen, with a Souray-esque slapshot, and an incredible IQ on the ice. He possesses a great mind that will look for the proper play first, and if he doesn’t see a good lane, use his deadly blue-line shot on net. At just 18 years old, Pulock is a great acquisition with the 15th pick, and can help anchor the blue-line after several years of tuning his skillset in Bridgeport.

      Here’s to a successful draft 2013, and to a soon to be successful free agency period! And, as always, Lets Go Islanders.

@IslesBlog

Summertime Ride

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      So here we are, three weeks removed from Isles hockey. The excitement is over, but optimism is at an all-time high…Let me start by saying: I miss the team, and I miss the excitement. I miss the unsteadiness my body would maintain from Peter’s lame pregame (why was his desk always a size too small?) to Stan’s post game “show” with Nabby, and everything in between.

      How’s everyone getting by? I’ve been well, enjoying the weather. Getting in those Corona and Limes, while fishing the Great South Bay, discussing with a random fisherman why John Tavares deserves the Hart, compared to whichever NHL superstar he could name the fastest. You know typical fanatic stuff.

      With Memorial Day in the rearview, and Summer beginning to show its true colors, the questions are arising. Draft?…Nabby?…Streit? Can this front office make a move without disturbing Mr. Wang’s wishes? A lot needs to be answered.

      The club is on the cusp of a very bright future, and management knows it. With many decisions needed to be made, and their effects on the direction this team, this coaching staff, OWNERSHIP, and management need to be on there A game.

      I put a lot of faith in this team, and I believe they will answer one of the three major questions this summer (The three being; the Goaltender situation, Adding a top 6 D-man, and who would fill JT and Moulson’s Right Wing). Leaving the following two to be dealt with next season, or summer, before the move to Brooklyn.

      With the likes of Matt Martin, Lubo, Moulson and JT, the Islanders roster is growing to be more and more of a talent pull factor, add in the move, and players WILL want to be an Islander. This front office needs to break the mold they created, and handle this team with care, yet be aggressive when it comes to pulling talent towards this club; our faith is in their hands.

      I’m not sure how this ends, but I am most certainly along for the ride. Our room for growth is at its utmost peak, yet we have so much on the line. Enjoy it.

@IslesBlog

End of the Season thoughts

Hi, my names Connor, and I am an Islanders fan.

      In all the years I have supported this godforsaken team, I have never been so emotionally invested in a season, than I was this year. Maybe it was the first half of the season being cancelled, or knowing that the forever ongoing rebuild had shown some minor success at the end of last season, but whatever it was, I was hooked from the moment the puck dropped on January 19th.

       I’m proud to say I missed only 20, of the all 3240 minutes, played this season (Dinner with the girlfriends family) and in all that time of keeping an above-average heart rate, I fell back in love with a team that had once cheated on me, ditched me, spent all my money, and even took the dog, but for the first time in a long time, they gave something back.

       Any real Islander fan can say, with confidence, that this season has been a long time coming, whether it was former first round picks Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey finally showing that they can hang with the best in the NHL, John Tavares taking that step from being a great player, to one of the league’s most elite, or just seeing this team never give up and keep playing THEIR game until the last whistle of the season. It was truly magic.

       My turning point of the season came during Colin McDonald’s 2 goal night in Philly. Something about that win made me feel like I was watching the greatest team to ever whack a piece of rubber into a net with a stick. I remember throwing my beer in the air as Bailey scored on Bryz to win it in the 4th round of the shootout. The mixture of excitement, a half dozen Pabst Blue Ribbons, and my heart rate finally coming under 200BPM for the first time in 3 hours, made for an ecstatic realization; this team was the real deal, and something us die-hards have been waiting for, for a long.. long time.

      To say that this season wasn’t a success would be a flat out lie, as only the obtuse (Ranger fans) are unable see the major strides this team took over the past 5 months and the ceiling for improvement rising tenfold. This 2013 season, the year of the lockout, was THE turning point for this organization, we fans see it, the league sees it, and most importantly this club sees it. They showed tremendous amounts of heart, determination and brotherhood all year long and you could see that, with every win, they grew stronger, and more confident in themselves. They enjoyed all their success just as much as we fans did. They saw how much we supported them, and they gave us their all, in return.  I’ve never been more proud of this team in the 15 years I’ve called myself a fan and I can hardly wait for October to come. Let’s go Islanders.

 - @IslesBlog

Thinking Out Loud: Brad Boyes

     

If there is one thing this past season has proven to us Isles fans, it is that this team is the real deal. Prior to the beginning of this lockout stricken season, I doubt you would find many people who could confidently call the Islanders finishing where they did, let alone the run they put together to end the season, gaining 20 of a possible 26 points within the month of April. Though many positives can be said about this current team, this is the NHL, and no team is perfect.

      My main concern about this roster is the role of the first line Right Wing, currently “filled” by Brad Boyes. Over the course of the season I have voiced my concern about having a player like Boyes up on the first line with Tavares and Moulson numerous times. His 10 goals and 25 assists in 48 games is by no means a bad season, but after watching Boyes play night after night, it is apparent that he is not a top line player. Boyes has seen his stats decline since his 43 goal season in 2008 and has not shown much promise heading into his tenth season in the league. He is a liability when skating head-up with a defender and never seems to know what his next move will be. His poor decision making skills, as well as lack of confidence with the puck has led to numerous missed opportunities and for me to believe he doesn’t deserve to be partnered with the likes of Tavares and Moulson. Boyes filled the gap, left by PA Parenteau after signing with the Avalanche last summer, with a strong showing, but I can’t see him remaining on the top line for more than another year, if that.

      Now don’t get me wrong, Brad Boyes is a very talented hockey player and I don’t feel the need to completely scrap him from the roster so soon. Pinning him on a second or even third line with the right players, can do this team a lot of good. With Boyes having 10 NHL seasons under his belt, placing him in a position with any of the upcoming AHLers (Strome, Nino, Nelson) could prove to be valuable when breaking them into real NHL talent.

      If the Isles want to continue this new found success, they’d have to find a stronger wing to better fit the third leg that holds up our first line. With Buffalo on the verge of a full rebuild, Vanek and Miller are all set to get out of dodge. If this does happen, the Isles swooping in and picking up Vanek would be a great improvement to an already deadly combo in Moulson and Tavares. But with the offseason, comes a lot of changes and surprises, so only time will tell how this front office handles roster moves this summer. For now, let’s enjoy these playoffs.

@IslesBlog

The Unthinkable: IslesBlog’s take on next season’s Forward Lines

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Well, that time of the year has come. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, sundresses are being worn, and our New York Islanders are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now I’d be lying if I said this year did not come without any concerns, minor heart risks, or a couple of broken pint glasses, but this club and it’s players alike, have proven to a lot of people that they are for real and are the makings of something good.

      This team has shown a lot of improvements, and a lot of positives, but was nowhere near flawless. As I christened this blog with a write-up on my take of how to run the Forward lines at the midway point of this season, it’s only right that I voice my opinion on next year’s forward lines.

LW – C – RW

1st

Moulson – Tavares – Grabner

2nd

Okposo – Nielsen – Bailey

3rd

McDonald – Cizikas – Martin

4th

Niederreiter – Nelson – Aucoin

Wait, let me explain….

      These lines took me about 2 hours of nit-picking and debating (mainly on where to place Nino/Nelson, and whether to keep Boyes, and if I did, where to place him and with whom) to complete. Not everyone may agree, but hey, that’s what opinions are for?

      For the first line I, once again, go with the obvious choice. Keep Moulson and JT together, as they are one of the deadliest duos in the league, combining for 43 goals and 91 points this year. Tavares has proven he is an elite player in the league and will win a Hart trophy or two before he calls it quits. I have voiced my opinion about Grabner being on the first line before and still stand by this. This year he’s done was he’s been known to do, which is find the back of the net. Putting up 16g, 5a with a +/- rating of 4 and a team leading 14.8 shooting percentage. I feel these three together, posses the right components to be a deadly force in the East.

      Second line: After the emergence of Bailey and Okposo this year, I’m confident that these late bloomers have finally came out and will continue strong play in the 2013/14 season, thus my argument that keeping the second line together is a must. Okposo’s numbers weren’t the strongest, but what he has contributed to this team can easily go unrecognized, as numerous goals this year came off of plays kept together by #21’s strength in puck possession. Keeping 21, 51, and 12 on the second is necessary. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. 

      The third line is where it got tricky for me. I decided to keep McDonald, Zeeks, and Martin together as they have shown they work well off of each other, scoring a combined 53 points this season. Cizikas has more than proven that, though he still has his weaknesses, he has a bright future ahead of him. With one year left on his contract, lets hope that future is in Orange and Blue. I have stated this before and I will again here; Martin deserves an “A” for his hard work and strong presence on the ice the past two years. It may not show up on paper too often, but Martin is a strong team leader and every Islander fan knows Matty and that deadly smile of his(…slightly awkward right?)

      Though controversial, I would keep Aucoin in the line-up next year. Placing him with the two youngsters, Neiderreiter and Nelson. Many people would like to see them in higher positions early on, but I want to avoid jumping the gun on these two like this organization has done frequently over the past couple of years. Starting them off with Aucoin, and a controlled amount of minutes will help the coaching staff gauge how they can contribute to the team in the long run.

      There you have it, IslesBlog’s forwards for the 2013/2014 New York Islanders.

      I can’t stress how proud I am of what this team accomplished in this shortened season. The immense amount of passion and brotherhood this team displayed is like nothing I have seen in the years I have spent following this club and to say I am excited for this teams future is an understatement. Lets Get it in the playoffs! BeLIeve.

@IslesBlog

      Note: These lines were drawn up with the assumption the Front Office doesnt go after any free agents/trades this offseason. Though these moves are not out of the equation this summer, I find any MAJOR moves highly unlikely.

IslesBlog’s 3 Stars

      Over the past few hectic weeks as an Islander fan, I find myself thinking about this team more than average (If it was even possible). I continue to think of possible moments that could’ve sparked the glorious playoff run this team has put together. Did it start early in the season and subtly snowball? Was it the frustration, turned to motivation from the MON-OTT loses? Or is it the fact that Garth Snow’s science project that is the New York Islanders is finally morphing into a good NHL club? I’m sure every fan had their “AH-HA” moment where the idea of playoffs didn’t seem so idiotic, but I feel that this really is the beginning of a young, talented, and determined team blossoming. With only 8 games remaining in the season and even fewer points between this team and its first playoff berth in 6 years, I have put together who I think is the Islanders 3 stars of the season.image

      Earlier in the week I polled twitter as to whom their favorite player has been this season and was EXTREMELY surprised of the amount of “Matt Martin” responses I received. So as a ‘Thank You’ to all my amazing followers I decided to give Matty the 3rd star. Martin has been a low-key contributor to this team throughout the year. His contributions are the ones that don’t show up on the stat sheet too often, but any true fan of hockey can recognize how much he excels in his style of play. Martin has 3G and 6A on the season, which is more than even I was expecting out of the young grinder. With all 3 of his goals coming in wins it’s safe to say he has been somewhat of a good-luck charm for this team. Being that the Islanders consist of mainly speedy, and finesse type players, having Martin on the ice for 12 minutes a night is needed as he is one of the few players who can really throw the body around for the Blue & Orange. Not to mention, he can throw or punch or two, ask Tom Kostopolous.

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    My 2nd star goes to the one, and only, John Tavares. JT has lived up to all expectations set for him since he first arrived on Long Island. He has 24 goals through 40 games this year, which is only 7 shy of his NHL personal record of 31 through a full 82 game season. His 18 apples put him at 8th in the league in points with 42, not too shabby Johnny boy, not too shabby. Though his stats alone put him far into the “Elite” category in the NHL, JT has shown Isles fans his true colors over the season, be it his Shootout goal in the win over Ottawa…with the Flu, or his excellent leadership skills on and off the ice. I am still puzzled as to how the NHL is just now calling him a superstar, for he has proven this to us NYI fans long ago.

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      My 1st and final star goes to the man between the pipes, Evgeni Nabokov. Though I feel it goes unnoticed amongst goalies (being I was one in my heyday) Nabby has proven himself invaluable to this club over the season as he has recorded all but 1 of the teams wins this entire season. His 19 wins pin him 3rd in the league amongst tenders. His numbers compared to other goalies in the league don’t come even close to justifying Nabby’s excellence of late. Though his erratic and sprawling style has caused much scrutiny over the years, but non-the-less, Nabokov has proven time and time again, he is this team’s goalie, and deserves the utmost credit for this team’s success.

Being that this write-up is coming from pure excitement and not at a more logical time of the season, I will update this article post playoffs as well.

@IslesBlog