It's time for another Preseason Preview. This is where we check out the teams going into the season.
Now, the New York Islanders.
Team M.O.: They're a team built around their goaltender Rick DiPietro where everyone's expected to score by committee. However, they've lacked the collective talent recently due to being in a rebuilding stage so things haven't exactly gone the best for them. These guys haven't been properly managed since the early 90's and have gone from a dynasty in the early 80's to making only five playoff appearances since the 1993–94 season, and each of those series ended in the conference quarterfinals!
Last Season: They won the John Tavares sweepstakes by ending up with the worst record overall last season. It doesn't get lower than that.
Offense: Tavares will be expected to make the jump from junior to NHL. Talk about pressure. The team has a core of young forwards that include Kyle Okposo, Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, and Sean Bergenheim. While they took steps forward in their development this season, they're still are a ways off from fulfilling what's expected of them. The secondary scoring provided by Trent Hunter and Doug Weight is increasingly injury-prone, leaving the group of young forwards without much veteran guidance (castoffs Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin didn't do for the Islanders what they're capable of doing on better teams.) Richard Park is surprisingly good at his role, being a checking forward who's good for 30 points, while Nate Thompson and Tim Jackman are settling into fourth line forwards. The team could use reinforcements all around but will probably commit to playing as many of their youngsters as possible, so they'd do well to at a top-six forward and a bottom-six enforcer forward.
Defense: The defense is an NHL defense, but is more fortified with bottom-pairing and utility players as opposed to having two solid top-pairings. Nevertheless, Mark Streit was the strongest player on the team this year and lead the team in point production with 56 points. Bruno Gervais was effective when in the lineup but watched his stats suffer like most defensemen on a rebuilding team. Brendan Witt was, flat out, a disappointment last season. The rest of the defenders were alright, but none of them stand out as being guys you'd want on your top pairings (Andy Sutton was effective when in the lineup, but is he capable of supplying that kind of quality defense the team needs? ) I think the team needs to get a top four defender to even have hope for a decent season.
Goaltending: Goaltending on this team, however, is incredibly deep. DiPietro is still considered the starter, but G.M. Garth Snow went out and signed both Dwayne Roloson and Marty Biron to form a platoon until DiPietro gets back and healthy. They have these gaps in their offense and defense yet somehow their goaltending features not one, not two, but three proven starting goaltenders. Unbelievable.
Expectations: Goaltending can't win everything, and while it would be nice to think that Tavares will immediately join the team and make them contenders again, I have a feeling the team won't acquire the guys necessary to even make the squad remotely competitive. I think they'll finish out of the postseason and will start making noise during their 2010-11 campaign.