5 Things the New York Islanders Need to Address This Offseason

Christopher Benini@@TheRealCBeniniContributor IMay 30, 2012

5 Things the New York Islanders Need to Address This Offseason

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    After an impressive web marketing campaign for John Tavares during the NHL 13 cover vote, it's time to return to reality for the New York Islanders and their fans.

    semifinal appearance has almost made Islanders fans forget the disappointing season they had just endured.

    With the free agency period and NHL Draft around the corner, the Islanders must start planning ahead to avoid a repeat of the 2011-12 season.

1. Defense, Defense, Defense

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    A no-brainer. Only three teams allowed more goals than the Isles this season. This might be a bit of a surprise, given the solid goaltending the Islanders got from Nabokov throughout the season. Travis Hamonic and Andrew Macdonald are both solid young defenders, and Matt Donovan is a promising youngster as well. Expect the growing pains to continue with those guys; they will get better with more experience.

    Mark Streit looked rusty for the majority of the season, and Steve Staios and Mike Mottau were abysmal when they were healthy. They will need to acquire at least one more quality defenseman. If Streit ends up not signing, it will be key that the Isles sign two good defensemen, or they could be watching the puck in their own net a lot once again.

    Players such as Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, both currently with the Nashville Predators, will be the cream of the crop during free agency, but if the Isles can't land a player of their caliber, they cannot afford to just end up with nothing.

2. Address the Rick Dipietro Situation

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    One of the biggest mysteries in the NHL. Rumors continue to swirl that Rick DiPietro will be bought out by the Islanders. Whether it be injuries or performance, Dipietro continues his massive decline.

    The Islanders shouldn't have to keep three goaltenders on the active roster, so Kevin Poulin's 2012-13 season hangs in the balance with DiPietro. With goals against averages well above three each of the past seasons, it may be time to part ways with DiPietro.

3. Secondary Scoring

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    During a portion of the 2011-12 season, the line of John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson was one of, if not the most productive scoring line in the NHL. Unfortunately for the team, the remaining lines remained ice cold.

    The Islanders can't afford for this to happen again. Whether it is internally with upcoming potential stars such as Nino Niederreiter or possibly Ryan Strome or an external source, the Islanders need more scoring.

    If the New Jersey Devils don't re-sign Zach Parise, the Islanders need to be major players for his services. Like the case with Weber and Suter, if the Isles miss the boat on Parise, they need to grab someone else. They can't afford to miss out entirely.

4. The Draft

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    The Islanders need to be exploring options for this pick sooner rather than later. Will they take a defenseman or a talented forward? They could use either.

    They could also explore trade offers. Whether that means trading down for multiple picks, trading for an established veteran or trading up for a guy like Nail Yakupov. the Islanders need to start looking into the variety of options as soon as possible.

5. Fan Support

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    We saw from the social media marketing campaign the Islanders put on for John Tavares that there are a lot of Islanders fans out there that care a lot about this team. Now the Islanders will need to sway the support that the fans put in for Tavares into the team itself.

    This is yet another crucial year for the future of the Islanders. Every time the Nassau Coliseum is empty, it is one step closer to the team moving to a different location. The way the team plays will reflect whether it can fill the seats. Another year of an empty arena could mean an end to the Islanders playing in Long Island.

    Christopher Benini is a New York Islanders Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and can be followed here.