BT's Bold (or Not So Bold) 2010-11 NHL Predictions: The New York Islanders

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BT's Bold (or Not So Bold) 2010-11 NHL Predictions: The New York Islanders
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Here's hoping he's healthy this year...

The Islanders seem to have the worst luck of any NHL franchise.

Toronto Maple Leaf fans in the audience are struggling to stifle screams and the Phoenix Coyotes never seem to be able to dodge extinction worries, but it's true.

Key injuries, missed opportunities, weird/bad decisions, and performances leaving a lot to be desired have dogged this franchise.

Of course, everyone first points to Rick DiPietro: Great goalie, dumb contract and not healthy (fingers crossed for this year).

Last year, there was the season-ending injury to Doug Weight; now there's the shoulder injury that's felled Mark Streit and even Kyle Okposo.

In the span of a calendar year, the Isles have lost their starting goalie, captain, and All-Star defenseman to injuries.

At least the Leafs have someone to blame for their misfortunes:

1. James Wisniewski Does Well, but He's No Mark Streit

Wisniewski has never gotten the opportunity to be a feature offensive defenseman, so this is his chance.

Unfortunately, the production value would be higher if Streit was still in the lineup.

With a chance to quarterback the power play, Wisniewski should see at least his first season over 30 points (he hit 30 right on last year), with a realistic shot at 35, and a chance at 40.

2. Matt Moulson Falls to 22 Goals

Moulson was the story of last year: After a full college career and three seasons split between the NHL and the AHL, he got a shot out of camp and made the most of it. Moulson continued to score all year long.

He's been a goal-scorer over a playmaker his entire career, so the "shoot first, pass later" mentality will still work, but with fewer dividends this year.

3. Rob Schremp Has a 50-Point Season

If you're not familiar with Schremp, YouTube his name. He probably has the hands of a top-five player in the league.

Unfortunately, his reputation preceded him in Edmonton and he never got a fair shake from Craig MacTavish.

Last year, things started to go his way with the Islanders and then a knee injury put a stop to that.

This year? He makes big waves.

4. DiPietro Starts Slow but Wins 28 Games

Word is Rick DiPietro is healthy. For his sake, I hope he is because if this keeps up, the next 10-plus years could be...well...messy.

No one can deny that he has talent, it's just staying on the ice long enough to use it. DiPietro won't show much rust, but the results will take a while to work themselves into a positive on the stat sheet.

5. John Tavares Doesn't Pull a Steven Stamkos

There was a lot made out of both Stamkos' rookie season and his sophomore season.

Tavares shares a lot of those same expectations because he was a first overall selection too, and because he'll be expected to ascend to the heights of other former first overalls.

Best case? 30 goals, 70 points. Worst? He repeats last year's stats.

6. Josh Bailey and Nino Niederreiter Feed Off of Each Other

These two might be the perfect complement to each other.

Nino is no small rookie at 6'2" and 205lbs, and Bailey is a tough young centre who can finish off plays and set them up.

The former Windsor Spitfire will give the Swiss Mister plenty of chances to find success if they stay together for a season, making Nino one of the big rookie performers.

7. Zenon Konopka Finishes with at Least 225 Penalty Minutes

If he's allowed to run around, Konopka can really rack up the minutes.

With 260 last year and 200-plus combined between the NHL and AHL the two years before that, he's obviously a penalty threat.

250 seems a tad lofty to hit two years in a row (Dan Carcillo and Sean Avery were the only ones to do it in back-to-back seasons last decade), but 225 is definitely realistic.

8. The Islanders Penalty-Kill Moves Out of the Bottom Five

While they've had trouble getting it away from the bottom 10 the past few years, there's reason to be hopeful for this year's penalty-killing unit.

A full year from a healthy DiPietro and the additions of Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina mean that there will be a more experienced base from which to build on for the Islanders.

How high will it go? It's hard to tell, especially with them missing their top two penalty-killing forwards from last year (Richard Park and Nate Thompson), but they'll be greatly improved down a man.

9. Frans Hits Plus-10

A lot has been made about Frans Nielsen's development throughout the Islanders organization, and he's looking to continue that this season.

He likes his role as a defensive player, and while the Islanders need offense, the likes of which Nielsen wants to try to provide this season (if he can settle in to a shut-down role), he'll be far more valuable to this team in the future.

10. Doug Weight Finishes Things Off with a 10-Goal, 35-Point Season

It's nowhere near the offensive proficiency that Weight provided during the best years of his career, but it's what he's settled in to when healthy, as of late.

He'll give the young Isles great leadership this season, setting them on the right track for their NHL careers—a fitting way to end the leader's career.

The Stretch

(Remember, you're supposed to laugh)

When an unidentified Islander goes down to an injury, he gets escorted off by head trainer Garrett Timms. Unfortunately, Timms tears his labrum in the process.

 

Bryan is a senior writer and a columnist for Hockey54.com—The Face of the Game! If you want to get in contact with Bryan, you can e-mail him at bryanthiel74@hotmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.

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