Today is Canada Day, which marks the opening day of free agency in the National Hockey League – a day that captures the attention of every hockey fan that hopes their team will improve their roster the easiest way possible.
However, this year comes with a twist for Islanders country. In previous years, fans were desperately hoping that Garth Snow would be signing a slew of top players. This year, the Islanders have a team comprised of both veterans and young players that is on the rise looking to fill a few holes. With that being said, they are some important holes that must be filled with the right players.
The top line will still continue to boast John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, the latter being the recent subject of trade rumors. Since Okposo was not moved at the draft, it looks as if he will be staying in an orange and blue sweater for at least one more season.
The New York Islanders finished last place in their division six out of the last eight seasons. However, the Isles finished this season with 101 points, third place in the Metropolitan Division, a Hart trophy finalist named John Tavares, and a physically brutal first round playoff exit that lasted seven games against the Washington Capitals.
Despite this drastic change, GM Garth Snow is not a finalist for this year’s General Manager of the Year award.
Newsday recently reported that Islanders GM Garth Snow is committed to bringing back his coaching staff. A drastically improved season has led Snow to believe that it is appropriate to keep head coach Jack Capuano, as well as assistant coaches Doug Weight, Bob Corkum and Greg Cronin, and goalie coach Mike Dunham, behind the Islanders bench next year.
Many fans disagree with this notion. The Islanders did have a tremendous season, improving from a team that consistently fell in the standings for a pick in the draft lottery to a team tied for fourth place in the East with 101 points.
The New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Saturday night for their second to last home game of the regular season at Nassau Coliseum. In honor of the fact that the Islanders will soon be leaving Nassau County for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the franchise dedicated this evening’s game to a few select players that have played major roles for this team over the past four decades.
Such players included Ed Westfall, Gary Howatt, Bobby Nystrom, Butch Goring, Ken Morrow, Pierre Turgeon, Steve Webb, Eric Cairns and Shawn Bates.
Each player was honored with a video tribute highlighting their contributions to the franchise during their respective decades.
With less than three weeks left in the regular season, the Islanders have positioned themselves nicely for a top-three finish in the Metropolitan Division. Their 92 points (44-25-4) is currently good for second, two point ahead of Pittsburgh and four points clear of Washington and a wild card spot. Yes, it will be disappointing not to win the division after being atop it for so long, but the goal right now should be a top three-finish, and just as important, home-ice in the first round of the playoffs.
The New York Islanders will have a welcomed face back in the line-up tonight as Kyle Okposo is set to return as they take on the New York Rangers for the last time at Nassau Coliseum tonight.
This will also be the last time that these two teams will meet, barring a match-up in this year’s playoffs.
Okposo has missed the last six weeks of the season due a detached retina that required immediate surgery. According to Newsday, the surgery was so serious that he was unsure of whether or not his vision would have officially been restored to his eye.
If the only good news the Islanders received Thursday night was that they picked up another big two points in Nashville, it would have been a good enough day. But the night was made a little sweeter when it was reported that forward Kyle Okposo would be joining the team in Florida for its Saturday night game against the Panthers. It is unlikely Okposo will suit up, but the idea of number 21 back in the lineup is enough to excite the Islander fans who were stunned to see him go down with injury over the All-Star Break.
It’s time for me to give the devil his due, and in this case, the devil is the general manager of the New York Islanders: Garth Snow. The much-maligned general manager has had his boisterous critics (*raises hand*) and while much of it has been well-deserving, maybe, just maybe, Snow is ready to have the last laugh.
It was just one win, but sometimes “one” win can mean a heck of a lot more than two points. Thursday night against the league-best Nashville Predators may just turn into one of those wins for the New York Islanders.
The trade deadline is less than three weeks away and for what is a rare occurrence in recent years, the Islanders are in a position to potentially “buy” and not “sell” before March 2nd. While the rumor mill is heating up around the league, it is time to re-assess what the Islanders should do leading up to the deadline as they prepare for a playoff run.