New York Islanders Goaltending: What Does the Future Hold?

Michael DeSantis@@dtrain2495Senior Analyst IFebruary 5, 2011

Kevin Poulin eyes the puck
Kevin Poulin eyes the puckPaul Bereswill/Getty Images

The Islanders goaltending situation has been very shaky, considering the injury-plagued Rick DiPietro (29 years old) cannot stay healthy, and Evgeni Nabokov's (35) spurning of the team after they claimed him off waivers.  The Islanders currently have five goaltenders on their roster, also including rookies Kevin Poulin (20), Mikko Koskinen (22) and Nathan Lawson (27). 

Currently, the Islanders have Poulin and Koskinen up, due to Lawson and DiPietro being injured, and Nabokov suspended by the team.  Poulin has played well this year with a 3-2-1 record, .929 save percentage and a 2.37 goals against average.  Originally, the Islanders wanted to keep Poulin, Lawson and Koskinen in the minors to train for the NHL.  However, with the DiPietro and Nabokov situations, they had to come to the Islanders.  So, what is the future of the Islanders goaltending?

Many fans call Poulin "the future of Islanders goaltending".  They might be right.  Even though they wanted to season Poulin more in Bridgeport, he's performed well so far at the NHL level, even with a shaky Islander team.  He might be the future of the Isles goaltending much sooner then anybody thought. 

DiPietro has been truly injury-plagued, and is out for another 4-6 weeks with a facial injury because of his fight with Penguins goaltender Brent Johnson.  If this keeps up, and the Islanders want to turn to Poulin earlier than they thought they would, DiPietro should consider possible retirement.  He still has a good 10 to 11 years on his 15-year contract, but his being plagued by injury is hurting the Isles. 

If the Islanders toll Nabokov's contract, and he decides to play next year, I'm all for a Nabokov and Poulin tandem.  DiPietro should at least consider retirement, especially if there's another injury soon after he returns. 

If Nabokov comes back to play next season if the Isles toll him, the Islanders will play with him, DiPietro, and Poulin if either gets injured.  While DiPietro is healthy, the Islanders will continue to prepare Poulin in the AHL.  If not, their goaltending situation next year could look similar to this season's.

In a couple of seasons, if Poulin keeps his work up, he might become the official No. 1 of the Islanders.  Nabokov will probably be long gone.  If DiPietro retires, either the Islanders will go with a free-agent goaltender or maybe even Koskinen if he performs well.  If DiPietro doesn't retire, he might be in there along with Poulin, maybe even Koskinen or Lawson, if he continues to get injured. 

Out of all these goaltenders, I believe that Poulin will be one of the definites between the pipes for the Islanders in the future, along with Koskinen.  Either way, the Islanders hope to find some future stability in the net.