A Lot at Stake for the Isles

So far this season the New York Islanders season can be viewed as either half full or half empty. From a half empty standpoint there has not been many points during this season where the Isles have played closed to their expected level. That is a major issue as they just hit the halfway mark. In terms of the half full standpoint despite this fact New York has a record of 22-15-5 they are tied for second place in the Metropolitan division with the Rangers. A couple of years ago that would be viewed as a very positive season for New York. However becoming a playoff team on an annual basis will no longer suffice as a successful season for the Islanders. A lot is at stake for this franchise is a major step is not taken this season.

The Coach:

Believe it or not Jack Capuano has been the head coach of the Islanders since November 2010. So Capuano just recently had his five year anniversary with the club as the man in charge behind the bench. Many good things have happened to this franchise while Capuano has been behind the bench. But it’s time for this team to take the next step and then some. If that does not happen this year for the Islanders there is no doubt in my mind the Islanders will be looking for a new head coach come this spring. If the Isles do not win a round (that has not happened since May of 93) and push a top team like the Capitals in a long competitive series, then New York will be shopping for a new head coach. Remember after this season the Islanders will be under control by the new ownership group of Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky. I am sure the new owners want this franchise to be an eastern conference force that challenges for the Stanley Cup every year.

The GM:

While I believe that the Islanders general manager Garth Snow has a lot longer rope than Capuano, remember sports is a very results driven business. The New York football Giants just let their head coach, Tom Coughlin go and he won two Super Bowl’s for that franchise. Snow who been the GM since July of 2006 steered this franchise through a very a difficult rebuild with numerous financial issues off the ice. Snow receives high marks for the his drafts over the years, shrewd and impactful trades (Boychuk and Leddy in recent times) and locking up his own players to very smart deals in today’s NHL salary cap era. But if the Islanders do not take a big step forward this year the questions will be raised is Snow the right main for the job to take this franchise to the next level? Don’t forget last September New York hired former GM George McPhee as special assistant to the general manager. McPhee spent 17 years as the Caps GM and one of the Islanders owners Ledecky is a former co-owner of the Washington franchise during that time. It would take a high level of failure for the new ownership group to remove Snow but it is not out of the question.

The Players:

This past off-season the Islanders made very little changes. If New York does not take a step forward this season, the up coming off-season will be completely different from this past summer. Thanks to Snow’s cap management the Islanders have plenty of salary cap flexibility to make moves. A disappointing end to this season could mean the Isles are looking for new faces in their room and that could mean good-bye to pending unrestricted free agents Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen. The Islanders will be in position to go big game hunting come July 1st via the UFA market. New York could be a player in the trade market as well. They have very attractive young assets in Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and a number of talented prospects who will be NHL ready in the near future.

Bottom line if the Islanders end this season in disappointing fashion, then big changes are coming. Follow me on Twitter @TheNLKing