The New York Islanders is capable of becoming a great sports franchise in a great sports city. Unfortunately, the stadium is crappy, the goaltending is questionable, and the Islanders need a player who makes players around him better as well as contribute to the offense.
First off, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum needs to be renovated NOW. It’s unfortunate that such a storied franchise plays in such a dump. It has the smallest seating area in the NHL, is the second oldest stadium in the NHL (behind MSG), and draws a scant 12,735 fans per game. The renovation proposed by Islanders owner Charles Wang, nicknamed “The Lighthouse,” is something that should be a No. 1 priority for the Fishermen. Rejuvenation of the stadium would add commerce to the Island, and would also give some incentive to Islanders fans to go see their team. Better stadiums=happier fans.
One huge question mark for this Islanders is the goaltending. Dwayne Roloson is now 40, and DiPietro is still only average. The average GAA of the Islanders was 3.14. There is no way that the Islanders will score 4 goals an evening to combat that. Some prospects like Mikko Koskinen and Anders Nilsson still need time to develop. So with the $17.425 million in cap space the Islanders have, a goalie like Antti Niemi and Jose Theodore could be a great starter. Niemi has Stanley Cup experience, and Theodore is a seasoned veteran. To move forward, the goalies have to stop pucks, and Roloson and DiPietro don’t deliver the goods.
Meanwhile, up on the other end of the ice, the Islanders fail to make ends meet. They only averaged 2.6 goals per game, and ended up being 20th in the NHL in goal scoring production. Good second and third liners, namely Lee Stempniak, Eric Belanger, and Raffi Torres, could be great 20 goal scoring additions to the Fishermen. If the Islanders add two twenty goal scorers, and goal production goes from 2.6 to 3.0. That’s the difference between winning and losing 5-10 games out of a season. More weapons are required if the New York is to become competent again in the competitive Atlantic Division.
The Islanders haven’t made it into the playoffs in 4 seasons. There’s much cap space before hitting $59.4 million. The defense is young, but has some players that have boatloads NHL experience that’s getting shipped right onto Long Island. Mark Eaton can even share his Stanley Cup winning ventures. Moreover, the owner wants a new stadium and has a proposal ready to be built. So the overhaul can start at this time tomorrow. It’s still open season on the free agent market, and more than enough players are willing to take lower salary if it means getting NHL time...
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