An Off-Season Plan For the New York Islanders

Eddie O'Malley@ed_omalleyContributor IMarch 22, 2009

UNIONDALE, NY - OCTOBER 31:  An 'Ice Girl' of the New York Islanders carries a Islanders flag after the team defeated the Chicago Blackhawks on October 31, 2006 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

With only a handful of games left to the season, I thought it would be fun to share with everyone what I would do this off-season if I were the Islanders' GM. 

I've really liked what I've seen from the young guys on this team, and with a few moves, I feel this team can contend for a playoff spot next season.

The Isles also only have about $30 million committed to next season's salary cap, so they will have to spend some money to at least get to the floor, which should be in the $40 million range. 

In this off-season plan, I am going with the assumption the Isles end up with the worst record in the league and draft either John Tavares or Victor Hedman. Still, my plan will almost be the same, regardless of who they draft.

First, the offense.

There is not much I would change to the offense. Most of the forwards are under contract for next season, so there will not be much room for change. Depending on who is resigned out of the Isles UFA's, they will probably only have one or two forward spots to fill.

Out of all the UFA's, Doug Weight is the most important to keep. He has been a respected leader on this team, and it would be great to have him mentor Bailey, Neilson, and Tavares, (if he's drafted) for another season. A one-year extension should be worked out.

After re-signing Weight, my other move to the offense would be to sign Martin Havlat to a contract in the two-year, $12 million range. 

Havlat is a talented winger, who is still relatively young.  The one downside to him is he is injury-prone, but if he is hurt, then it can give a young guy like Jesse Joensuu or Trevor Smith from Bridgeport some time in the NHL next season. 

With Weight re-signed, and Havlat signed, and John Tavares drafted, the lines would set up like this:

Doug Weight- John Tavares- Kyle Okposo

Martin Havlat- Josh Bailey- Sean Bergenheim

Blake Comeau- Frans Neilson- Trent Hunter

Jeff Tambellini- Richard Park- Tim Jackman


If Tavares is not drafted, then the Isles should re-sign Andy Hilbert, and the lines would look like this:

Martin Havlat- Doug Weight- Sean Bergenheim

Blake Comeau- Josh Bailey- Kyle Okposo

Andy Hilbert- Frans Neilson- Trent Hunter

Jeff Tambellini- Richard Park- Tim Jackman


Now, for the defense.

First, Andy Sutton should be waived or traded. I like Sutton, but he just can not stay healthy. 

Waiving Sutton will free up a roster spot for the Isles to go all out to sign Long Island native Mike Komisarek. Komisarek is a solid young defenseman, and would help solidify the Isles defense. 

I would also re-sign Jack Hillen. Hillen has progressed nicely, and has the makings of being a fourth or fifth defenseman for this team in the future.

The defensive pairings will look the same whether Victor Hedman is drafted.  Hedman is signed for one more season in the Swedish Elite League, so it is not likely he will be in the NHL next season. 

This is what the defensive pairings would look like:

Mark Streit- Bruno Gervais

Mike Komisarek- Brendan Witt

Radek Martinek- Jack Hillen/Freddy Meyer


Meyer would have been my sixth, but he has missed most of the year, so he will have to prove himself again in September.

At the same time, Hillen has played well, and should be given an opportunity to fight for the last spot on defense. 

As for the goaltending, hopefully, Rick DiPietro will be back and healthy next season.  The Isles will need a backup to DP though, because Yann Danis and Joey MacDonald are UFA's.

Danis has played well, and deserves an extension. The team seems to play well around him too. 

With the additions of Havlat and Komisarek (and possibly Tavares), I really feel this team can compete for a playoff spot in 2009-2010. 

They young guys are maturing and gelling well together. If they can stay healthy next season (mainly DP), I think this team will turn some heads and surprise those people who will most likely predict another last place finish for them next season.