The drive for the 2014 National Hockey League Playoffs begins today as a host of Islanders rookies hit the ice to begin a rookie camp that will run until the eve of the regular training camp that begins September 11th.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the New York Islanders as they head into next season. The biggest one will be whether or not they are capable of making the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The NHL Facebook page recently asked this same question, and many fans were either skeptical, positive or found the idea downright absurd (and these weren't just Rangers fans).
Despite an intense, hard fought playoff series with a very inexperienced roster against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that has been one of the most dominant forces of the league for the past few years, many critics are still not convinced that the New York Islanders are a guaranteed playoff team.
There will be plenty of tough decisions to be made for New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano when training camp starts in September, especially when it comes to deciding which young forward will have a chance to be on the opening night roster.
Both Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson have earned the deserved opportunity to get a long look before being sent back down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers; the only question is which one will stay.
The New York Islanders once again will be looking for a new winger on the top line to play with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. It has been a continuous up and down process that has seen several players come and go, and new faces will be looking to fill that void once again as the 2013-2014 season approaches (bridgetds/Flickr).
Moulson and Tavares found chemistry from the very beginning, as they were long-time friends prior to joining the Islanders line-up. But finding a third member to join their two-man wolf pack hasn't been an easy solution.
The Islanders were very busy at the start of an off-season that forecasted a flurry of movement from GM Garth Snow. On the agenda was signing a number-one goaltender and top-six forward, both of which took place on July 5th. A few other moves were made to help keep the core intact for many years to come, as well as removing another bad apple from the organization (Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr).
After signing forward Peter Regin to what is seemingly a depth signing, the Isles quickly looked to fill the void left in the crease.
The Isles were reportedly interested in goaltender Ray Emery, who ended up signing a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. This forced Snow to return to his original choice for the crease and sign Evgeni Nabokov to another one-year deal at $3.25 million.
At most, the 2013 NHL season has two games remaining. The Chicago Blackhawks have the opportunity to send the Boston Bruins home without any new hardware, as a win tonight would make them this year's Stanley Cup Champions.
With that being said, the New York Islanders organization has been preparing for the NHL Entry draft, as well as free agency.
As we jump ahead to July 5th, there are a handful of players that the Islanders might consider for the 2013-2014 roster that may make them a better contending team for next season's playoff run.
The New York Islanders made the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season and a week ago, as a prelude to the beginning of their first round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team called up several players. The players called up to the big club were Matt Donovan, Calvin De Haan, Brock Nelson, Aaron Ness, Anders Nilsson, John Persson, Ryan Strome and Johan Sundstrom.
This is a letter addressed to the New York Islanders. This is the team with a hibernating fan base that has been starving for any sustained success in recent years. Success is a distant memory on Long Island and despite some stretches of promising teams, they have gone 30 years without a championship.
In that time span, the team has went from the envy of the league to the polar opposite. For a franchise that was once so successful, seeing the losing seasons piling up was disheartening.
For the younger generation of fans who were born after the Dynasty years, we have known nothing but despair and heartache. Aside from a Shawn Bates penalty shot and a Wade Dubielewicz poke check, the memory bank of positive memories are thin.
Puck drop on Long Island, where the Isles were facing the Winnipeg Jets, was followed shortly thereafter in Worcester, Mass. when the same ritual was performed to start the Sound Tigers vs. Sharks contest. Isles fans would get to see Anders Lee play his first game as a professional (historic in that it marked the first time all members of an Isles draft class, 2009, ‘made it’) while Sound Tigers fans would watch top prospect Ryan Strome (2011) make his pro debut. Neither would disappoint.
The Sound Tigers have ten games remaining in their season and while they still have a chance to make the playoffs, the chance is remote. It is likely the team would have to run the table in order to extend the season.
Ten W’s in ten games is a lot to ask of a team whose record in ‘Tweetish’ (140 chars. or less) to date is: ‘#BST-W-W-W-L-W-L-W-L-W-W-W-L-W-W-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-W-L-W-L-W-L-W-W-W-W-L-L-L-L-L-W-W-L-L-L-L-W-W-W-L-L-L-L-L-L-L-W-L-L-W-W-L-L-W-L-L-W-L-L.’ It does not look good for the playoffs, but tables have been run and there are still some compelling reasons to visit the Webster Bank Arena for the remaining games.