New York Islanders: Ranking the Islanders Defensemen This Season
With the New York Islanders season nearly half finished, there is certainly tons of talk about scoring to be found about the organization. With the emergence of John Tavares as a star caliber player and Kyle Okposo, P.A. Parenteau, and Matt Moulson finding their game, the defensemen have become a somewhat forgotten lately.
Talk about the goaltenders is easier to find and a new arena seems to be a hotter debate. For the Islanders defense core, I think this is a good thing. Their lineup has been more consistent than in previous seasons and the guys are finally getting it together.
Through the difficulties of facing injuries and having a bunch of goaltenders to become familiar with, the Isles defense has improved from this point last season.
Nine players have played defense for the Islanders this season and here are my rankings for all nine defensemen to suit-up for the Isles.
9. Calvin DeHaan
The 20 year old Calvin Dehaan has played only one game this season for the Islanders. He only played a second more than 13 minutes and took only two shots. He really has yet to have any real playing time in the National Hockey League and this one game was just to get his feet wet.
The only visible black and white plus to his game is his plus. DeHaan is the only Islanders defensemen with a positive plus-minus of one. For DeHaan, his first NHL game was a step in the right direction. This youngster has potential and being selected for the AHL all-star game this season can only help.
8. Steve Staios
Steve Staios has been one of the shakiest defensemen for the Islanders. He was signed to bring some veteran leadership to the team and I think he has not done a good job at all. Staios leads the Islanders with 16 minor penalties and more giveaways than takeaways—not at all what a player in a leadership role should be doing.
Staios does have a decent plus-minus and blocked shot numbers but I really feel he could be doing much more for the team. He did have a fight to defend his team but that is not his role either. In my eyes Staios has been a big disappointment so far. he is not what we expected when he signed with us out of camp this year.
7. Mike Mottau
Mike Mottau is another Isles defensemen that does not look very comfortable on the ice. Mottau has very little offensive production, high giveaway numbers, and should have more blocked shots. He is a minus nine and has half the shots of other players with similar games played. His shots and points have fallen from last year.
Some games Mottau plays well and gets a good sixteen minutes of playing time and in some games he makes costly mistakes and finds himself hardly playing ten minutes.
I've noticed Mottau has the shortest leash of the Isles defense and they do not think twice to sit him out a shift or two. Mottau's mistakes have become known around the Coliseum and he gets booed often.
Mottau does not deserve to be booed off the ice. Hopefully he can find his game and get back into a groove.
6. Dylan Reese
Dylan Reese played very well in his few games up from Bridgeport. He had a goal and an assist in his nine games for the Islanders. He was a minus three and averaged better than 15 minutes of ice time.
With a little work in the AHL and getting comfortable in the NHL, Reese could be a solid blue-liner for the Isles. I would like to see him in the NHL sooner rather than later because I think he can handle it confidently and professionally.
Reese can take from his games in the big league and build off of them. He plays very well.
5. Mark Eaton
Mark Eaton has played well in his own zone. He has blocked very important shots and broken up some big chances. He shows leadership on the ice and is a good veteran player to have on the team. I still think he should have the "A" over Staios. He is only a minus two over 22 games and over 15 minutes of ice time per game.
Eaton's offense is lacking, but he has never been one to chip in often. He still has yet to score a goal for the Islanders and it would be great if he got one soon.
Eaton has been pretty trustworthy for the Isles and it is always good to have someone with a Stanley Cup ring in the locker room.
4. Andrew MacDonald
MacDonald has played very well all season for the Isles. He has put up three goals and sees some time on the power-play. He is a good skater and helps the Islanders out of their own zone often. His plus-minus is a minus 7 and all his other stats fit fine with his games played and ice time.
The two problems with A-Mac are his hit numbers and lack of physical play. He only has 10 hits in 30 games and normally leaves the physical play to his defense partner. MacDonald is not a very small defenseman and could be more physical in his own zone.
A-Mac is growing well as a top pair defenseman in the NHL. His good play and growth are positives for the team.
3. Mark Streit
Mark Streit has played great as captain of the Islanders. His 19 points in 37 games is something for the Islanders to be proud of. He has done very well as the quarterback to the Islanders power-play with some of Doug Weight's new plays and strategies.
But Streit has struggled in other areas. The captain has more giveaways than takeaways. His hit numbers are low and his blocked shots should be way higher. Also, Streit is a minus 14 at home. Not very good number for where he should play his best hockey.
Streit struggles when the team struggles and his play goes up and down. With more consistent play he can be an even better leader and be a huge help to the developing younger defensemen.
2. Milan Jurcina
Milan Jurcina has played great this season. He has great numbers with blocked shots and his point production has been about normal for him. Milan has a big number of hits and is a physical defenseman that plays over 20 minutes a game. He is not afraid to hit and get hit and he always gives it his all.
The only downside to his play is his plus-minus. Jurcina is a minus 16. You could attribute this to his high ice time, but even then it needs improvement.
Milan has been a strong leader and an emotional guy out there for the Islanders. He is a great guy on and off the ice and is an important Isles player. He should be able to keep up his good play.
1. Travis Hamonic
Travis Hamonic is having a great second season. With nearly a hundred hits and blocked shots in 37 games, he is leading the way for the Isles defense in both categories. His ten points make him second on the team and his minus 5 is very good considering all the ice time he logs.
His portioning has been solid and he uses his big size to win battles in his own zone. He is vocal and plays with his heart and always drives to win. He isn't afraid to block a big shot or fight to defend a teammate.
Hamonic has quickly become our top defenseman.
He is noticeable on the ice and just seems to make the right plays. This twenty-one year old has a bright future in the NHL.