Regardless of their unexpected success taking them into the playoffs last year, there were many areas that the Islanders needed to improve coming into the current season. The core of the team was established, but among many other things the defensive corps was a major concern and the departure of captain Mark Streit only made things worse.
The Sound Tigers have won 6 in a row and 11 of 13. In the wake of their recent success Anders Lee, Ryan Strome and Mike Halmo have been recalled by the Islanders. With John Tavares and Frans Nielsen out with injuries, the young forwards will be given a chance to prove themselves at the NHL level.
Ryan Strome has been developing with the New York Islanders organization for the past two years, playing with their AHL farm-team affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Photo Credit: mandelux12/Flickr).
In 10 games with the Sound Tigers in 2013, Strome scored seven points in 10 games (two goals and five assists). He has continued the high scoring pace this season as well, notching 14 points in nine games played (three goals and 11 assists) as the team's top scorer.
He also was cited as the best player in the Islander rookie camp before the puck dropped for this season as well.
Prior to the Islanders game against the Carolina Hurricanes last night, defenseman Aaron Ness was recalled for some help on the blueline. It could have been for help, or for a bit of a shake up as well which I think is needed for this team at the moment.
Despite that great effort, the Islanders are statistically one of the worst defensive team in the league. New York currently is tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for 23rd in the league in goals against per game and no small portion of that lies at the feet of the defense.
With Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait currently sidelined by injuries, the defense is thin.
The opening weekend for the Sound Tigers went substantially better than this past weekend from the stand point of how the games unfolded. The opening weekend saw the Sound Tigers drop their opener 5-2 at the hands of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and win the seconds game 4-3 in a shootout against the Norfolk Admirals. Anders Lee and Kirill Kabanov were the goal scorers against the Penguins while Riley Wetmore, Andrey Pedan and Joey Diamond were the goal scorers during regulation. Ryan Strome added two assists in that game. John Persson netted the the shootout winner for Bridgeport which gave the Sound Tigers their first win of the season.
Recently, the New York Islanders have had some good luck when it comes to their prospects. More so than the prospects themselves, in certain regards. See, as their junior or college seasons have ended without huge playoff success, their professional careers have taken off.
At this moment, Islanders captain Mark Streit is sitting and wondering if he will receive a phone call from GM Garth Snow to tell him that he has been traded (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr).
It was tweeted out yesterday by Darren Dreger of TSN and reinforced by Newsday reporter Arthur Staple that negotiations on a contract extension for Streit have stalled with the Islanders.
The club apparently does not want to trade the 35-year old defenseman and would much rather keep his veteran presence part of the late season playoff push. But unless things change, he will be a UFA by this summer.
While Islanders fans become increasingly impatient with the teams’ rebuilding, Sound Tigers fans await the annual summer, team reconstruction.
233 goals were scored by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season. Not a team record and not even close to an AHL record, but enough to win the Northeast Division title. Of the 49 skaters that laced them up last year, six of them accounted for 104 (or roughly 45%) of that total. None of them will return for next year.
Winning a title obviously requires good goaltending, and the tender tandem of Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson was exceptional. Each of them earned Goaltender Of The Month recognition from the AHL during the year. One of them will not return next season.
You couldn't have been more wrong if you predicted the Islanders to take a forward in this year's draft. The Isles only selected defenseman out of all seven rounds of this year's draft. They also acquired the top four defenseman that GM Garth Snow has continuously talked about addressing in this off-season.
The first move came when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Islanders traded their 2013 second round pick to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Lubomir Visnovsky, a 35-year old defenseman (he turns 36 in August) in the final year of his contract. Visnovsky put up six goals and 21 assists for 27 points in 68 games last year with the Ducks. The year before was even better as the Ducks d-man scored 61 points in 81 games. 2012 was a tough year overall for the Ducks, so there's reason to believe that Visnovsky can be an offensive weapon, especially on the power play.