The New York Islanders have struggled on and off the ice for the past several years.
Some of the major things that have hurt the Isles recently are Rick DiPietro's long term contract, Mike Milbury's moves as General Manager and the failure of the Lighthouse Project.
But things have been looking up lately for the Islanders.
Let's start with the DiPietro saga. Since signing that ridiculous 15 year deal, DiPietro has been a scratch more often than he has been in the crease. Isles fans are getting really annoyed, obviously.
But supposedly, at the end of next season, there will be a new collective bargaining agreement in the NHL. That will make dumping DiPietro's contract way more affordable. If Garth Snow chooses to do the right thing for the good of the team, then the Isles can rid themselves of DiPietro. It sounds harsh, but with him gone, the Isles will have a lot more room in their salary cap.
On the other side of the ice, the offense has been hot and cold. And I mean they either burn, or they freeze.
The problem is that John Tavares, Matt Moulson, and Kyle Okposo are the only ones that produce. That aside, the Isles top line is amazing. Tavares and Moulson really rejuvenated Okposo, and Kyle is now starting to play like the skater Snow saw when he drafted him.
Tavares and Moulson could be one of the most dangerous duos in the NHL. Both are snipers, and Tavares also has a playmaker element to his game.
The Islanders have some very good prospects in their system. In about three to five years, the team's forward list will look something like this.
Tavares, Moulson, Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Michael Grabner and Nino Niederreiter will most likely stick around. In the upcoming years, they'll be joined by young players such as Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Kirill Kabanov, Kirill Petrov, David Ullstrom and Casey Cizikas.
Those future forwards will supply the team with the depth it needs after older guys like Brian Rolston, Marty Reasoner and Jay Pandolfo either leave or retire. I'm not sure if I see Josh Bailey as part of the future team. He might be traded due to his lack of success. But if he can turn himself around, he can always fit as a lower forward on the team.
The team's defensive future is also solid. Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic will likely be fixtures for years to come for the Isles. But they also will be joined by great prospects such as Ty Wishart, Calvin DeHaan, Matt Donovan, Aaron Ness and Scott Mayfield.
As for goaltending, the future may not be too different from now. Sadly, Evgeni Nabokov is pretty old and will most likely retire or be competing for the Stanley Cup with a powerhouse team by the time the team is ready.
Hopefully, as I discussed above, DiPietro will be gone. I see Al Montoya and Kevin Poulin as the Isles' major goaltending tandem going forward. Anders Nilsson and Mikko Koskinen would make good trade bait.
And now, for off the ice. Plagued by Kate Murray, the Isles have failed to get a new or renovated arena for quite some time now.
But there is finally progress on that front. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced a privately financed project to redevelop Nassau Coliseum and the area around it. If everything goes along smoothly, the Islanders will have a renovated, or possibly even new Coliseum in upcoming years.
With an updated arena, fans will flock to see the Isles in action once all their young prospects join the team.
Things are looking bright for the Islanders' future.