The New York Islanders are coming off their most disastrous season in franchise history; a year that saw them put up a sub-par offense and an even worse defense.
The goaltending situation is as bad as it could ever be. The fan base is also dwindling and general manager Garth Snow desperately needs to find a way to correct the situation.
In almost every single mock draft done by the top websites and analysts, Jonathan Tavares is the first overall pick, and rightly so since he clearly is the best all-around offensive player and someone who has the potential to be a super star.
Because of that, Garth Snow is under tremendous pressure, deciding between what he has to do and what he should do—a considerable difference.
The entire hockey world is expecting the Islanders to draft Tavares since he can single-handedly bring the franchise out of obscurity and back into the spotlight on the New York scene.
Fans at Nassau Coliseum were even heard chanting his name late last season at games. This team needs a big name and that is why Garth Snow has to draft him.
But let us take a look at the prospect that most analysts feel will be taken at number two; the Swedish born defenseman Victor Hedman. He has a powerful stride, superb vision, and excellent skills when it comes to moving the puck. He can also play defense, something that the offensive defenseman has become excused from doing in recent years.
The Islanders offense last season was pretty bad, but with budding young players such as Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey, they will develop into steady players. Add to that Trent Hunter and Doug Weight and all they need are a few more additions via free agency and the Islanders offense can shape itself up.
Now take a look at the defensive corps.
Mark Streit had an all-star caliber season and for a very affordable price, he is proving to be one of the best free agent signings of all of last season. Other then him, however, there is nothing to write home about.
Brendan Witt is a far cry from what he used to be; that nasty, hard hitting, no-nonsense defenseman is nothing more then a slow shell of his former self. He can provide leadership, but nothing else.
Tomas Pock has decent offensive potential but is a disaster defensively. The Islanders would be better off moving him to left wing, a position he played on the Rangers for a short time.
The rest of the names include Bruno Gervais, Jack Hillen, Radek Martinek, and the slowest skater of them all, Andy Sutton. Even if Rick Dipietro were to come back and in Vezina form, this defense in front of him would make it all moot.
Add Jonathan Tavares to this motley crew and the offense may improve, but the defense will still be the same. If the Islanders want to succeed in the Atlantic Division, and furthermore make the playoffs, they will have to solidify defense.
Free agents aren't likely to run to the team, so they will have to build themselves. They can do that with Victor Hedman. If you thought Mark Streit was something special last season, just wait until he has this incredible prospect on the blue line with him.
Hedman will not only help quarterback the power play, but will help to lift this franchise out of the dark ages in helping them get back to winning hockey.
Greg Caggiano is a writer on Bleacher Report covering the New York Rangers. He has a New York area sports teams blog called Metro-Sports, where you can read great articles about all professional sports teams that play in the area by a dedicated team of young writers.
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