Well, now that people are talking playoffs, I will be reviewing the seasons of teams as they're either eliminated from the playoffs or eliminated from playoff contention before the end of the season. Obviously, the last team reviewed will be the one that wins the Cup.
Now the next team to be eliminated from playoff contention: The New York Islanders.
Season expectations: There wasn't much to expect from the team going into the season. Just the hope that some of their younger guys would gain another year of pro experience while newcomer John Tavares would step in and get used to the major leagues. They had a decent goaltending tandem going into the season but even optimists had to see the lack of overall depth and expect that it would be too much for them to overcome.
My prediction: I figured they'd be last in the division and last in the Eastern Conference.
The truth: They were the fifth team to be eliminated from playoff contention in the Eastern Conference.
What went wrong?: You mean besides the contracts with Rick DiPietro and Alexei Yashin that still have them in bondage?
Long story short, these guys are still in full-rebuild mode. Add a penny pinching owner who hired a brown-nosing yes-man as his GM and you've got a plethora of young forwards with no veteran scoring presence that isn't past their prime (sorry Doug Weight.) Sure Tavares and Kyle Okposo have immense upside. Sure Matt Moulson is having an exceptional season. After them it just kinda drops off and for a team that needs scoring by committee, that's kinda a problem. The defense is paper-thin and while Mark Streit has been excellent for the team, they need more reinforcements to help with the production from the blue line. The goaltending was good, but should be considered a stop-gap solution at best if/when Rick DiPietro ever returns to regular NHL duty. If he doesn't then that's just going to be another piece of the puzzle the Islanders will have to figure out.
So what's next?: They need reinforcements but they don't have to blow the bank to make that happen. If Charles Wang will let Garth Snow build a better team, then these guys can start to make noise next season. If they're going to try and ice the cheapest team possible, however, then they may as well start getting the moving trucks ready for Kansas City.