NY Islander GM Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang want to fill some more seats in 2010-11 by securing a playoff berth for the team. What will it take to achieve that goal?
Coach Gordon was hired in large part because he was seen as someone who can motivate and encourage the development of the Islanders' young emerging talent. It may be too early to say that his job is on the line, but it is very important that Gordon gets John Tavares and the other young core players to take major steps forward this year.
Tavares had a rookie campaign that was adequate considering his hype--no more, no less. For the Islanders to have any real shot at the playoffs this year, he must have a sophomore year comparable to Steven Stamkos (pictured with him).
If Tavares is to have a Stamkos-like breakout season and if the Islanders are going to make the playoffs this year, the team will need serious secondary scoring from its other skaters. Matt Moulson will need to repeat his remarkable success story this year, but the Islanders will need more.than that. Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, and others will all need to step up in a big way if the team is to sustain a second season push. The existing batch of forwards may not be enough. Garth has left the door open to signing more free agents, but the Isles will be more likely to get added production if Nino Niederreiter (seen here) and / or Kirill Petrov make the team.
The Islanders followed up a 279 goals against campaign with a 264 goals against effort. It is an improvement, but nowhere near good enough for a playoff team. Mark Streit (shown) and recently added veterans Milan Jurcina and Mark Eaton will need to lead the blueline corps to a far more stingy season if the playoffs are to become a reality. One key: Can superb but frequently injured shut down specialist Radek Martinek stay healthy?
Dwayne Roloson turns 41 this year, but even if he were 21, he would need help. Rick DiPietro's track record of four injuries to his right knee in 1.5 years and 13 games played is cause enough to doubt that he will be able to offer that assistance. His career may, in fact, be over. The Isles would seem to need a reliable backup but Garth has made it clear that he will not add any other netminders in free agency. He has tapped Nathan Lawson (pictured) as the likely go to guy if DP goes down again. We will see if he is up to it.
he can always ask these guys.
So what are the Islanders' chances? If everything happens as I have outlined, I see them making the playoffs as probably a 4-8 seed and having a 15-20 overall pick.
If these requirements are partly met, the team will be on the bubble but will probably fall just short with a 10-14 overall pick.
If none of these requirements are met, the Isles will have a top ten or even a top five pick.
My guess is that they will be in the second group but MIGHT just sneak in at the end and win a playoff berth. They might even win a playoff series for the first time since 1993. We will see.