The New York Islanders have a lot of talent that is just waiting to be shown. There are players on this team that are going to be playing in much bigger roles then they did in the past and will need to step up their game.
As the team gets better, we will start to see who belongs here and who doesn't. Which is why this season is so important.
Over the past few seasons, the Islanders have built their team through drafting. Many of these players are now in the NHL. It's time for them to show that they are good enough to be in the teams future plans.
As I said before, this is the season where players need to prove themselves. In this slideshow, I will show the five players who will have breakout seasons in 2011-12. These players could be the future of this team.
Yes, Tavares has scored 20+ goals in his first two seasons. But, this is the season where we will get a feel for what he will become.
Tavares is the centerpiece of this team. He was brought in to score goals. He needs to show his talent this year. He has the ability to become a perennial goal scorer in this league. Tavares hasn't seemed lost on the ice, but it seems like he tries too hard and tries to do too much.
I'm expecting a big year from Tavares this season. I think he is capable of being a 40 goal, 80-90+ player. It's time we see him make the next step.
It's no secret that Josh Bailey was rushed to the NHL. But don't forget he's still only 21 years old and still has a lot of time to improve.
Bailey needs to step up his game. He has never played in 82 games. He was sent down last season to find his game and played well. He has a lot of upside but he still needs to show that he was worthy of a ninth overall draft pick.
While Bailey is still young, his days could be numbered on Long Island. Bailey's name has been tossed around in some trade talks so the Islanders could get a much needed defenseman. This could be the year that shows what Bailey will become.
Will he become a player that can contribute year in and year out? Or will he be a player that will struggle? This year should give us a better idea of what to expect.
Islander defenseman, Travis Hamonic, wasn't even supposed to be playing on the Island last year. After the Isles best defenseman, Mark Streit, went down with an injury, Hamonic stepped right in and played very well.
That was only a sample size of what we should see from Hamonic though. He could very well be the Islanders number three or even number two defenseman by the end of this year. He has great skill which we saw last season.
Hamonic is know for playing a good defensive game and he's not bad on offense either. He scored five goals and finished with 26 points in 62 games in the 2010-11 season. I can defiantly see him score 15 goals and have around 50 points in the future.
The thing I like is that the Islanders did was not rush him into the NHL. Hamonic played two seasons in the WHL then played in 19 games in the AHL in 2010-11 before coming up. He has had time to adjust and has done so very well. I'm really excited to see Hamonic play this season and see how he plays and how he improves.
It may be hard to believe but I think Kyle Okposo has almost been the forgotten player on the Islanders. He's been overshadowed by John Tavares, Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson. But I think this is the year that we will see Okposo play at his best.
Okposo was out for most of the year with a shoulder injury. He came back and played fairly well scoring five goals and finishing with 20 points in 38 games. I really think Okposo has the potential to be a 25 goal scorer. He has yet to score 20 goals which is the next step he needs to make.
Okposo is defiantly part of the core for the Islanders. With his new five year contract he is defiantly in their future plans. He seems like he presses to much and tries to force things to happen. I think this year will be the year Okposo shows why he is part of the future for the Islanders.
It appears that the Isles fifth overall pick from 2010 will make the team and start right away. Niederreiter will be a great addition to an already talented Islander team.
I think with Niedereiter's skill we can see what kind of player he will become right away. He played nine games last year with the Isles and had a goal and an assists. While he didn't score much, he played very well for a guy just starting out. This kid has potential to be a 20+ goal, 60-70+ point player. The best player to compare him to is Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He plays a very good offensive game but also can play physical.
This season hopefully we will see another player that could be huge for this team in a few years. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see Niedererreiter score 20+ goals this year and maybe be in talks for the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. I really think he has that talent and will show it this season.