The New York Islanders goaltending carousel continues to spin as earlier this week Kevin Poulin was loaned to Bridgeport and Anders Nilsson was recalled. Goaltending is still something the organization needs to address through trade or free agency, but the home grown goaltending talent seems to be running out of time to prove their worth.
The Isles went with Tavares and it certainly is looking like the right choice. He is one of the hardest working players in the National Hockey League and he is super competitive. He leads by example and makes those around him better.
But what about the rest of the 2009 draft?
Let's take a look at that draft and see where they are now.
Kevin Maher of News12 sent out a few tweets today that quoted recently demoted Islanders goaltender, Rick DiPietro. The tweets immediately spread like wildfire over the Twitter-verse and have prompted a response from Isles GM Garth Snow (Photo Credit: xjowell/Flickr).
Maher's tweets read as follows:
@KMaherNews12 DiPietro told me Isles waiving him felt like, "they ripped my heart out, stabbed it, set it on fire and flushed it down the toilet."
DiPietro also apparently made another comment that without his wife's support over the years, that he would have "driven into a tree." Reports from Arthur Staple, Katie Strang, and TSN have added that DP elaborated on the subject and said that he has never actually contemplated suicide and does not look at the topic as a laughing matter.
A quick check of the New York team site will tell you they have Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson, Mikko Koskinen and Cody Rosen. Let's forget Rosen for the purposes of this article. The Clarkson goaltender is a back up at his school and has no real future at the NHL level.
I am going to start off by saying that this is not another Rick DiPietro blog. We all know the story; he will continue to be part of the New York Islanders' plans as long as he is physically able to wear goalie pads and the organization will continue to support him to the very end of this long, exhausting road to recovery. However, there are two goaltending prospects that are going to be competing hard for the back-up position behind Evgeni Nabokov, who is the clear cut starter for the 2013 season.
Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson were sharing time with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL for most of the 2012 year with the exception of some short-lived NHL time with the Isles. In 49 games played, Poulin went 26-18-4 with a 2.79 GAA with a .912 save percentage. His partner Nilsson was 15-8-2 in 25 games played and sported a 2.42 GAA with a .921 save percentage. Nilsson, who is a padded giant at 6'5, is still getting adjusted to the professional game and learning how to play on a smaller rink after being more accustomed to the Swedish Elite League. Poulin has now spent close to two full years developing with the Islanders and looks like he might be the most ready to make it to the NHL.
With this edition of the prospect report I will continue my count down of the top 15 prospects in the Islanders system from this past season. If haven’t read the first part of the countdown then click here and catch yourself up.
#10 Mikko Koskinen – Goalie, KalPa (Swedish Elite) 6’-6” 202lbs
Mikko is the first and only goaltender to make this list as Kevin Poulin and Andres Nilsson played their season in the AHL. Koskinen spent his season in the Swedish Elite league in order to avoid a three headed goalie monster at Bridgeport. Playing for KalPa this season, Mikko appeared in 25 games posting a GAA of 2.30 and a save percentage of .916. Koskinen also played in 6 games during the opening round of the playoffs in which KalPa was eliminated.
If there is one thing that impresses me about the game of hockey it is the amount of effort put into it by the players. In their early twenties and in perfect health, a forty - second shift on the ice will bring them to the bench dripping with sweat and gasping for air. By the time the game has ended they are exhausted with legs on fire from the effort. They work harder than one can imagine and a good team or player does it every shift. They also play hard when the game is over.
In February 2010 many people around the world were astounded by photos taken of the Canadian Women’s Ice Hockey team celebrating their Gold Medal victory with some champagne and a cigar on-ice hours after the event. Hockey fans were not affronted. We knew they deserved the celebration, a small reward for a life-long dream achieved. Two days later and thousands of miles away I would suffer my final upper body injury resulting from hockey, delivered by a friend and a Canadian hockey player.
While Kevin Poulin has been enjoying his deserved Pou-LIN-sanity awards and rewards his partner between the pipes Anders Nilsson has gone quietly about his job setting records of his own. On Saturday night he tied the Bridgeport Sound Tigers record for consecutive wins by a tender blocking 26 of the 28 shots he faced in a win over the Adirondack Phantoms. The next afternoon he broke the record previously held by Nate Lawson recording his eighth straight win. In this win over the perennial powerhouse Hershey Bears he allowed only one of the 21 shots he faced to cross the line. Not giving up a goal in overtime he went on to stop all 5 shots he faced in the shoot-out.
Yesterdays game was a rare one o’clock matinee and after playing Sat. at 7pm, Sun. at 3pm Anders picked up the first AHL shut out of his career stopping all twenty-six shots sent his way by the Albany Devils. Team record nine wins in a row for this Swedish behemoth, who looks like a transformer when fully dressed.
How many goaltenders will we see in an Isles uniform by the end of the season? That was a question that a few of my readers asked me before the start of the year. Last year the Islanders featured Dwayne Roloson, Rick DiPietro, Kevin Poulin, Mikko Koskinen, Al Montoya and Nathan Lawson. And oh yeah, they also tried to claim Evgeni Nabokov off waivers to only say, "No thanks" before joining the roster this year.
That's a total of six goalies (with a 7th one that rang off the post) that dressed for the New York Islanders in 2011. The count now is at five for this year between DiPietro, Montoya, Nabokov, Poulin and Anders Nilsson, who earned his first NHL start against the Pittsburgh Penguins the day that Sidney Crosby returned to action.
Koskinen has been playing for KalPa in the Finnish Elite League as John Link explains to us in his latest prospect report since there has been a crowd in the crease for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Both Poulin and Nilsson had been playing so well that there was simply not enough room for Koskinen, choosing him to opt for overseas play.
On this edition of the prospect report I will take a look at two Islanders goaltending prospects in the Islanders system and see where they could fit in with the team in the future. I will look at Mikko Koskinen and Cody Rosen, two goaltender prospects that are fighting for a spot in an already crowded Islanders crease.
Mikko Koskinen is a goalie prospect most Islanders fan are familiar with because he has already made his Islanders debut last season. He was drafted in the 2nd round (31st Overall) in the 2009 entry draft. The big Finnish goalie (6’-7” tall) is currently playing in the Finnish Elite League for KalPa. He was assigned to the league after the start of the current season when it was decided that having three goaltenders in Bridgeport was not a good plan for their development. His stats so far this season aren’t bad as he has currently played in 15 games, winning 8 of them with a 1.92 goals against average. These are very good stat for playing in a very good European league.