Despite the New York Islanders still needing to add a top-four defenseman to their blue line to help ensure themselves a chance at making the playoffs next season, they still have an abundance of d-men that are ready to compete for a regular spot in the line-up.
Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Thomas Hickey are likely four guaranteed defenseman to play on a nightly basis. Matt Carkner, Matt Donovan and Brian Strait are three blue liners that will play as well, solidifying six defenseman with one ready to sit and play when called upon.
Following their unexpected return to the playoffs at the end of the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season, the Isles found themselves in unfamiliar terratory having a draft pick outside of the top 10. Holding the 15th overall selection, General Manager Garth Snow selected offensively gifted defenseman Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL.
Today marks the first day of September, meaning that New York Islanders training camp will be opening up in the next few weeks. This time of year gives the coaching staff an opportunity to observe the types of players they have developing in their system, test out line combinations, and see which prospects are prepared to take on full-time roles in the NHL.
Presently, the Isles have 16 forwards and seven defenseman on one-way contracts, including two legitimate NHL goaltenders who do not have to worry about fighting for their job.
That leaves the Isles with 25 players on their roster.
The 16 forwards is the number that got every hockey expert on the twitter-sphere proclaiming that Garth Snow was absolutely going to trade someone in order to bolster his blue line.
We’re several weeks past the onslaught of free agency madness, still more than a month away from training camp, and right smack in the middle of the dog days of summer with the NHL. The Islanders, after the acquisitions this off-season of Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski, and Nikolai Kulemin, have addressed many of the holes that have plagued them in recent years.
The summer of Snow is upon us. For better or worse, the fate of the New York Islanders rests in the hands of General Manager Garth Snow over the next three months. His goal is simple even if the process is complicated: put the finishes touches on a “rebuild” started six summers ago and create a sustained contender for the last season at the Nassau Coliseum and the future of Brooklyn. (Photo credit: Official New York Islanders/flickr).
The New York Islanders have ended their 2014 season by finishing 26th in the league, good enough for the fifth overall pick in this year's draft lottery and a 34-37-11 record.
At this time last year, the Isles were 24-17-7, a record that was good enough to place them eighth in the Eastern Conference and allow them to play the Pittsburgh Penguins in a first round playoff series match-up.
Clearly, this was not the direction that the Islanders and their fan-base expected them to travel this year.
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 New York Islanders continued their recent strong play at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night as they doubled-up the Florida Panthers 4-2. The win was the Islanders third straight on home ice and improved their overall record to 30-35-10 on the year. The win also helped the Islanders stave off elimination officially for one more night as it continues play tomorrow night in Ottawa against the Senators.