Offensive Numbers the Islanders Need in 2012-2013 to Make the Playoffs
During the free-agency period in July, owner Charles Wang and GM Garth Snow made it clear that they are committed to improving the franchise from within the organization.
There is still no stadium deal in place for 2015, which looks like the main reason the Islanders appear to still be in "rebuilding mode" (for the sixth straight year).
The combination of Wang's apprehension to spend more on a team that reportedly loses $20 million per year (due to a terrible lease deal), and free agents' apparent lack of desire to play on a team with no recent success and an uncertain future, has meant that the Islanders do not have the luxury to sign impact players through free agency.
Despite the lack of moves in the offseason, the last five years of poor play and obscurity have allowed the Islanders to accumulate an impressive prospect pool (which ranks anywhere from second to seventh in the NHL, depending on who you ask). These homegrown players will be expected to step up for the Islanders this year.
In order for the Islanders to succeed, they will need to improve on what was the 27th-ranked offense last season. These numbers should give the Islanders an offense that can lead them to the playoffs.
The budding superstar and future captain of the New York Islanders has done everything the Islanders have asked of him.
Last season, the 21-year-old had an 80-point season for the first time in his young career.
For the Islanders to succeed in 2012-13, they will need Tavares to at least match his all-star offensive numbers for last season, if not improve on them.
Matt Moulson has been both the biggest surprise of the Islanders' rebuild, and their most consistent player.
He has recorded three consecutive 30-goal seasons. Despite this, he is underreated across the league, with no all-star appearances or invitations to Team Canada.
Moulson is 28 years old, and has improved every season as Tavares' linemate. In 2012-2013, the Islanders will need him to once again improve into what should be his first season as an All-Star.
Brad Boyes may be the luckiest man in the NHL in 2012-2013.
Chances are he will get the chance to play along Matt Moulson and John Tavares. Moulson's goal scoring ability will draw extra focus to Boyes, while Tavares is a magician at setting up excellent goal scoring opportunities.
In 2011-12, Boyes had an abysmal year in Buffalo, with eight goals. That season forced the former 40-goal scorer to sign a one-year, $1 million contract.
On the other end of the spectrum, playing on the Islanders' first line made P.A Parenteau a very rich man with a four-year, $16 million deal from Colorado.
Boyes has a knack for finding the back of the net. Playing on Tavares' line should be the perfect remedy for his recent struggles. Expect Boyes to have a good season, just in time for him to become to rich for the Islanders next summer in free agency.
Ryan Strome appears to be a year away from taking over the role of second line center. Because of this, Nielson will be responsible in this role in 2012-13.
Nielson, on a very good team, is the perfect third line center. He is a fantastic defensive forward who is very good on the penalty kill. His offensive abilities are average, and his most important task for this upcoming season will be making Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey into better players.
Kyle Okposo has been an enigma for his entire NHL career. At times he has looked like a sure-fire top six NHL forward, and at other times he has looked like a third line or fourth line grinder.
Okposo's success has often mirrored the success of the Islanders team during the past two years. In both seasons, Okposo got off to painfully slow starts that saw him struggle to put the puck in the net, and the Islanders also found themselves out of playoff contention by January.
For the Islanders to reach the playoffs, Kyle Okposo will need to consistently perform more like the player he was in the last few games of 2012, where he recorded nine goals and 10 points.
Josh Bailey is in the same boat as Kyle Okposo. He is a former first-round selection who has shown flashes of brilliance, but his overall performance has been mediocre.
Bailey is still young (22), and has really improved during the last few months of 2012 (when he was moved from center to wing and played with Nielson and Okposo).
It looks like Bailey will be on a line with those same players during this upcoming season. He needs to show that he can be the player the Islanders thought he'd be when they drafted him.
One of the first players to emerge from the Islanders' stocked prospect pool, Cizikas will be asked to center the Isles third line, assuming Ryan Strome will spend another year in juniors.
Grabner experienced a sophomore slump in 2011-2012, following up his impressive 34-goal rookie campaign with a disappointing 20-goal season last year.
The Islanders desperately need the 24-year-old Grabner to return to what he was during his rookie season. Grabner has blistering speed and he has the capability to create scoring opportunities (often breakaways) all by himself. He just needs to improve his finishing skills.
The Islanders appear to be committed to keeping their higher-level forward prospects (Strome, Neiderreiter, Nelson, Kabanov) in the minors for another season, so it looks like Ullstrom will be slotted into the third line.
Ullstrom's size (6'2") and tenacity would be a nice complement on a line with Grabner and Cizikas, which is built on speed and high energy. David Ullstrom could be a very pleasant surprise for the Islanders in 2012-13.
The Islanders' fourth line should definitely include Matt Martin, who was the team's top checker last season.
Jesse Joensuu and Marty Reasoner will most likely be the other two members of the Islanders' fourth line.
Last year should have taught the Islanders an important lesson, which is to not let your top prospect rot on the fourth line with has-beens and scrubs.
This fourth line looks to be better because it has a nice blend of size (Joensuu is 6'4"), toughness (Martin lead the NHL in hits last year), and experience (Reasoner will look to have a bounce-back year). These guys are not just goons. They have some talent and should be able to put up some solid point production.
Combined Goals: 25
Combined Assists: 45
Combined Points: 70
The Islanders are not a good defensive team.
However, they should have solid point production from their defensive core, considering Mark Streit, Lubomir Visnofsky, Matt Donovan and Calvin De Haan are all considered to be offensive-minded defenders.
NHL statistics say that 270 goals will earn an offensive team a spot in the playoffs, and 230 goals usually gets a good, defensively-built team in there, as well.
The combination of the Jack Capuano's coaching style and the Islanders' sub-par defense definitely makes the Islanders an offensive-styled team.
The combined goal total of the numbers on this list is 279.
This (optimistic) goal total should earn the Islanders a playoff berth between the 6-8 seed, assuming the goaltender combination of Evgeni Nabakov and Rick Dipietro performs average.