After a disappointing season on the defensive end where the Islanders saw the puck go in their net 255 times, general manager Garth Snow addressed one of the team's biggest needs in the offseason: The blue line.
The poor play of Al Montoya and Rick DiPietro, combined with the defensive liabilities of Milan Jurcina, Steve Staios and some inexperienced mistakes is what doomed the Islanders in their own end.
But with a revamped defensive core that will now include Matt Carkner, a couple of prospects and maybe Lubomir Visnovsky, the Islanders should do a better job of helping out Evgeni Nabokov, who did a fine job goaltending last season.
Mark Streit and Andrew MacDonald
Pairing an aging, offensive-minded defenseman with a spry two-way defenseman seems like the way to go for the first pairing instead of placing two players over 34-years-old together.
MacDonald's great defense will help Streit get opportunities to move the puck out to guys like John Tavares and Matt Moulson.
These two guys will make an ideal top pair.
Lubomir Visnovsky and Travis Hamonic
This duo will see similar minutes to the top pair. Hamonic is good enough to be a top-pair guy, but I gave the benefit of the doubt to MacDonald.
Hamonic still makes a couple of inexperienced mistakes here and there. If Visnovsky joins the Isles, he'll help by giving the team two pairings of a veteran/young player duo.
It's a nice dilemma to have, though. These four guys can be arranged into practically any combination and still be effective pairs.
Matt Carkner and a prospect
Carkner for sure will make the team. He's what the Islanders need: A big bodied, bruising defenseman. He can also dish out a few goals and assists as well.
One of the Islanders prospects, such as Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan or Aaron Ness will be his partner, most likely. It depends on who looks the best out of camp and the preseason.
It's also fair to say all three will get a look during the regular season unless one comes along as the clear-cut NHL player.
Barring Visnovsky remaining a Duck and/or a free agency pick-up, that's what the Islanders blue line will probably look like. Granted there might be some switches from what I've predicted, those are the tools that Jack Capuano has to work with. Whatever he does, we Isles fans sure hope he crafts a solidly constructed defensive corps.
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