First off, Congratulations to Rob and the St. Louis Blues for winning the GHCL Cup and to Stephan for a great season/run in the playoffs! Islanders were very happy with their season finishing 3rd and getting back into the playoffs, we couldn’t have done it without our goalies Hiller and Dubnyk. New York had 6 guys score 20+ goals, making this a very hard team to defend. Hats off to sophomore Jacob Trouba who in 65 games finished with the best +/- for the Islanders. Proud of this team, as it was a good mix of veterans and youngsters.
While most of the players are out golfing 18 holes a day, Huet and the rest of the management staff are looking at the 2016-17 season with angst. We lose the 2015-16 regular season stud net minder Hiller, 5th line center Andersson, and recently acquired defender Nikitin (possibly KHL) to teams overseas. After having a whopping 16.6 shooting % and being one of the top goal scorers on the Islanders, Erik Cole decided to retire. He had a great career with New York and we wish him and his family the best of luck! Fedor Tyutin is lost in translation as he was bought out and will be on his way to free agency, no room for the aging defenseman. The last cut will be decided in the near future and it’s between Cody Hodgson and Alex Stalock, both former 1st and 2nd round picks (respectively). Hodgson and Stalock are both trying to find their way in the AHL.
The 2016-17 New York Islanders will have Devan Dubnyk back in action alongside 2011 2nd round pick James Reimer. The Canadian born duo will split games, Reimer having the better Save % might see half of the season (40 games). Unless management takes a goalie or swings a deal for a back-up, Jonathan Bernier will have that scarce job when Dubnyk is between the pipes.
Since 2010, the Islanders have spent their first round draft picks on 5 defensemen, and we now have a core group of guys for the future. In 2010 with the 10th overall pick we selected Michael Del Zotto. With the 8th overall selection in 2011 we took Cam Fowler. Jonas Brodin was picked 6th overall in 2013, and both Trouba and Rielly were taken in the 2014 draft (2nd overall, and 16th overall). Veterans Marco Scandella (26 y.o) and Ben Lovejoy (32 y.o) will round out the 2016-17 defense for New York.
Offense is a worry area for management as they spent many picks on defense over the years but forgot how quickly our offense was aging. Huet and company tried to make up for that in last years draft by selecting Andre Burakovsky, Dmitrij Jaskin and Jacob de la Rose but it seems like Burakovsky will be the only one seeing significant time while the latter two will watch and learn for another season. Captain Patrice Bergeron will lead the charge with 32 goals and line mates Kyle Okposo and Alex Steen will look to handle some of that scoring load. After the top line, we see a significant drop in production. Justin Abdelkader scored 19 goals but will more than likely spend most of his time in the penalty box (120 PIM). Nyquist won’t be as dangerous as he has been in the past but will certainly find a top spot on the power play. We mentioned Burakovsky earlier and he will play a significant role on the 2nd/3rd line. Our problem will be our 3rd and 4th lines, no 20 goal scorers and some of our veterans are ready for alumni games. Brian Gionta (37 y.o) will be fighting for his typical 4th line RW spot. Mike Fisher and Brad Richards (both 36 y.o) are the current centers filling the bottom roles. Michael Cammalleri (34 y.o) will only get to play half of the season due to a hand injury and Tomas Plekanec at the age of 33 will see a significant drop in offensive production.
Huet is looking to get younger and more talented at the center/right wing position. With the 14th overall pick in the 2016 draft we have a few guys in mind that fit the bill. Whoever the Islanders draft may end up playing some solid minutes just like Burakovsky did last year. Management is taking offers for ALL players EXCEPT: Brodin, Fowler, Rielly, Scandella, Trouba, Bergeron, Burakovksy, de la Rose, Jaskin, Nyquist, and Okposo. Again we are looking for young centers, young wingers, and draft picks. This team is not going to be as good as our 3rd place finish last season, but we could have a ceiling of 7th-9th with good goalies and solid defensive play.
As you can tell, the New York Islanders are excited for the off season and especially for the 2016 DRAFT!
Kevin – NYI