It almost seems like it's been the same story heading into the off-season year after year now; the Isles lack a top-six forward and top-four defenseman that could help make them a competitive team that could be fighting for a playoff spot.
They've tried free agency and have been shot down by guys like Paul Martin. They tried the trade market with James Wisniewski, who ended up being a major disappointment while wearing orange and blue. They even tried that route once more, gaining the negotating rights to Christian Ehrhoff. He didn't want to sign, and I think after seeing how he played under his very luxurious contract, most Isles fans probably don't care.
Although both trades were under different circumstances, they shared one glaring similarity. Not one of them involved any actual players leaving the Island. Ehrhoff's rights were acquired for a fourth round draft pick, and Wisniewski came on board in exchange for a 2011 second round pick and conditional 2012 fifth round pick. Despite the early signs of GM Garth Snow developing a pattern, there is reason to believe that could change heading into this summer's off-season.
The New York Islanders are gaining attention in the media once again as Gary Bettman recently announced that Brooklyn would not be a viable option for the Islanders to move to in 2015. With all of the question marks surrounding the Isles' arena situation, the Islanders will still have to finish out their lease agreement under some uncertainty. (BridgetDS/Flickr)
However, some late season secondary has left fans wondering if the Islanders can sustain the type of chemistry that helped the team finish on a 6-5 note in their last 11 games. Josh Bailey closed off the season on a tear and has constantly left fans wondering if he has finally put everything together, but it seems as though the pivot was very comfortable playing on the wing alongside talented playmaker Frans Nielsen. Nielsen didn't seem to mind the adjustment as the pair combined for 24 points in the last 11 contests for the Islanders. Nielsen registered 11 points (3 Goals, 8 Assists) while Bailey outdid him with 13 points (3 Goals, 10 Assists). However, the most important part about their streaks was the fact that the two players were gelling together and looked very comfortable playing on the same line.
The Montreal Canadiens step down from the podium and the camera turns to the General Manager of the New York Islanders, Garth Snow. Accompanied by his top scouts and assistants, and most likely Kevin Connolly who formerly was on Entourage, Snow remains seated. With Pierre McGuire ready to analyze Snow's draft choice at fourth overall, the Isles GM leaves the podium vacant for the Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman.
"We have a trade to announce, " are the words that would echo throughout a startled building.
"The Islanders have chosen to trade the fourth overall pick in this year's draft..."
After allowing seven goals in an onslaught of a hockey game, the final buzzer at the Nationwide Arena would not only sound the ending of a massacre, but also signify the end of what was a disappointing season for the New York Islanders.
It was a disappointing year for many reasons. With the rebuild entering its fourth season, many expected this team's fortunes to change. For plenty, that meant making the playoffs instead of falling into the draft lottery. For yours truly, that meant climbing out of the cellar but not high enough to reach 8th place. I am sad to say that we were both wrong. The Islanders finished the year out of the playoffs and 27th overall in the league, giving them the fourth overall pick going into Tuesday night's draft lottery for the second year in a row.
On paper you can call the 2012 season just the same as any other. At 14th place in the Eastern Conference, the Isles finished the season with a 34-37-11 record with 79 points. That's only a six point improvement over last season and the SAME exact record as the year before that in 2010. It would almost appear that the rebuild has established a trend of not going up or down, but rather staying put.
Josh Bailey has been an incredibly inconsistent contributor for the New York Islanders. Bailey is playing in his fourth season with the Islanders, he played his first game back in 2008-09. He missed the first fourteen games of his rookie season with a lower-body injury; he would play his first NHL game on November 11, 2008 at home versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Josh recorded his first NHL point just one game later on November 13 in Ottawa when he assisted on Kyle Okposo’s game tying goal. The Islanders went on to win the game 3-1. Bailey recorded eight more assists on the road to his first goal, which came on January 2, 2009, in the same game as Doug Weight’s 1,000 point, against the Phoenix Coyotes. The game was bittersweet for Bailey, who was enthusiastic about his first goal, but disheartened by the 5-4 loss. He went on to record 25 points in his rookie campaign finishing with 7 goals and 18 assists. (Photo Credit: thehockeyjunkies.blogspot.com)
The playoffs might be further out of sight, and the reality that the Islanders aren't a playoff team has become more and more apparent with every weakening loss, but this is not the time to "fail for Nail."
Nail Yakupov is considered to be the obvious choice for the number one overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The 19-year old Russian sniper scored 101 points (49 goals, 52 assists) in 65 games played for the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He currently has 31 goals and 37 assists for 68 points for Sarnia and is a +14. The Islanders, like every other team in the NHL, could certainly benefit from having another scoring winger added to their line-up.
So why do I say that the Islanders shouldn't look to drop in the Eastern Conference standings?
It's still a long shot, but the Islanders have pulled themselves back into playoff conversations with a 1-0 win yesterday over the New Jersey Devils that has put them within five points of the last spot in the Eastern Conference. But even so, there are plenty of questions that surround the New York Islanders hockey club, ranging from the uncertain future of the arena to whether or not Tim Horton's will ever return to the concession stands. The most important questions, the ones that impact the immediate future, are the ones that need to be answered first; GM Garth Snow has to figure out where certain players will fit on his roster as the rebuild pushes forward.
I've already talked about the possibility of Evgeni Nabokov re-signing with the Islanders, as well as teammate P.A. Parenteau returning in an orange and blue sweater. But Snow will have to take a long look at some of his current regulars and decide where they fit with the team long term as some young, fresh faces are pushing for NHL jobs.
The New York Islanders earned two points against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden before starting a three game series with the New Jersey Devils. Josh Bailey, Matt Moulson, and John Tavares all scored for the Islanders who picked up their first win since last Friday's 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers. With the victory, the Isles moved within 7 points of the East's eighth playoff spot, but the standings are subject to change since New York played an early afternoon contest.
While the New York Islanders must be content with the effort that they put forth against the Bruins, the team knows they have a tough challenge to face when they play their first of three games against the Devils in less than 24 hours. Evgeni Nabokov might get the nod for his second start in two days as he did not look too tired during the post-game conference and was very sharp against a Bruins team that put up 34 shots on goal. Even though Nabokov came under siege at times, he was equal to the task and made some brilliant saves at key points of the contest.
The Islanders gave up a late two goal lead and lose to the Capitals in overtime. The game was mostly back and forth but in the end the Islanders didn’t finish the game the way they needed to in order to win.
The new lines seemed to be working out as the Islanders were first to strike in the first period when Josh Bailey made a few great moves to get to the net and bury a shot. The goal was Bailey’s 7th of the season and was assisted by Frans Nielsen and Andrew MacDonald. This gave the Islanders an early lead and the hope that they could take the Capitals off their game early. A sore spot of the Islanders coming into this game was their penalty kill, which was only 12-20 in their last six games. It was tested twice in the first period when Kyle Okposo took two-minutes for high sticking at 5:21 and not too much later at 10:23 Steve Staios got two-minutes for hooking. The Islanders were able to withstand the pressure from the Capitals and kill off both penalties. The first period was largely dominated by the Capitals as they outshot the Islanders 13-3.
The New York Islanders went from potential playoff contenders to looking towards next season within 48 hours earlier this week.
Having the best team in the Eastern Conference coming into your building after being shutout in their last game, isn’t what the doctor ordered.
After two terrible performances against Ottawa and Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday, the Islanders welcome in their cross-river rivals the New York Rangers on Friday Night.
The Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference with 81 points, 7 points ahead of both New Jersey and Boston. They travel to Long Island after being blanked by the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Tuesday night. Henrik Lundqvist continued his stellar play making 29 saves in the losing effort. After an 8-1-1 stretch, the Rangers have lost two of their last three games.