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Prediction: Fourth in Atlantic Division, 10th in Eastern Conference
You're probably going to laugh at me for saying this, but I wholeheartedly believe the Islanders have a shot to make the playoffs this season.
It's hard to tell based on their draft position over the last few years, but the Isles have absolutely made progress over the course of that timespan.
The nucleus of this team continues to mature, led by John Tavares, who's no longer well on his way to being a top-10 forward in the NHL: He is one.
Between Tavares, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, Brad Boyes and Frans Nielsen, the Islanders have enough scoring talent to be competitive.
Defensively, they're still lacking, but they do have Travis Hamonic and Mark Streit, and if Lubomir Visnovsky ever shows up, he'll make a difference as well.
Thomas Hickey, who was L.A.'s fourth-overall pick in 2007, could prove to be GM Garth Snow's latest waiver wire steal. He's a very talented defenseman with offensive upside. Hickey had a tough time cracking a deep Kings roster but, then again, who the hell wouldn't?
Evgeni Nabokov proved down the stretch that he's capable of stealing hockey games. If the Isles let him play more often and allow him to be "the guy," he will not disappoint.
Do I think the New York Islanders will make the postseason this year? I don't. But they're a lot closer than they've been in years, and that's a very positive sign.