Seeing the Big Picture with the New York Islanders

Pat CurraCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2007

In the wake of a mass exodus out of Nassau Coliseum, there's no time like the present for the New York Islanders to start rebuilding from the ground up.

In a single day, the Islanders lost a potential captain in Ryan Smyth, a 40-goal scorer in Jason Blake, a top defenseman in Tom Poti, and a 25-goal scorer in Viktor Kozlov.
And let's not forget that the Islanders also already bought out captain Alexei Yashin in an effort to lure Smyth back...but of course that didn't work out.
So what are the Islanders to do? Most fans thought the team was set to build around Smyth. Instead, New York is left with gritty veteran forwards Mike Sillinger and Jon Sim, team leader Brendan Witt, and Miroslav "I play when I feel like it" Satan.  

As for attracting new talent, the Islanders are facing an uphill battle, and Nassau Coliseum certainly doesn't help their cause. The place is a dump, and the Islanders aren't close enough to winning a Stanley Cup for topflight free agents to overlook their subpar facilities.

My two cents: The Islanders have got to go back to the drawing board, and they should start by moving Satan.

Satan is entering the final year of his contract, in which he stands to make a reasonable $4.25 million. Many teams would take on that burden in exchange for a capable frontline scorer and a major threat on special teams.

The Islanders, meanwhile, could swap Satan for a budding prospect, who would be a good fit on a team brimming with young talent.

Andy Hilbert, Trent Hunter, and Jeff Tambellini have the makings of NHL stars. The Islanders also have two skilled young defensemen in Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli, to say nothing of Kyle Okposo, the top prospect who will be in school for another year but is already drawing comparisons to Jarome Iginla.

And, of course, the Islanders have one of the top goalies in the conference in Rick DiPietro, whom they've already locked up for the rest of his career.

To ultimately challenge for a Cup, the Islanders need to build through the draft, sell off their spare parts, and save their money by not spending it stupidly on someone like Michael Peca. If anything, they should stay out of the free agent market until next year, when a player like Jason Spezza may be there for the taking.

For now, though, fans should remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. Like it or not, it's going to be a long season on Long Island.