The New York Islanders had a rebirth this past season. The last year on Long Island at Nassau Coliseum was a big success. Although because it was the last year on Long Island all fans were dreaming of a deep playoff run. The Islanders roster is full of young talent that is improving each year. Also they arguable could be the NHL team in the best position in the league, salary cap wise now and going forward. Having said that this is a very big off-season for the Islanders. Next year a 100 Point season and a great 1st round playoff series will not be enough for their General Manger Garth Snow and the coaching staff. Next year is year one in Brooklyn but it is current majority owner Charles Wang last year with significant control. The new ownership tandem of Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky will no longer be minority owners after next season. All signs point to another busy off-season for the Isles.
Big Talent Coming In?
There are two areas the Islanders could address in terms of taking this team from being on the outer edges of a contender in the Eastern Conference to being a force in the East. Those two areas are for the Islanders to land an established scoring winger to play with John Tavares and or add another proven top four defenseman to join Boychuk, Leddy and Hamonic. Imagine how good the Islanders could be next season if they can accomplish both? There are plenty of teams looking to rebuild / retool, as well as teams in salary cap hell. The cap ceiling for next season is estimated at 71.5 Million. This puts a lot of teams in the soup when it comes to their cap. The Islanders next season have 17 players signed already with just a salary cap payroll just under 55 Million. This gives the Islanders plenty of flexibility to makes moves. The Islanders do have to sign RFA’s Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Thomas Hickey.
In terms of someone to play with John Tavares how about making a deal with the Sharks for Patrick Marleau? I believe there will be plenty of options for a veteran top 4 defenseman be it the unrestricted free agent market or the trade market. Interesting to note is if the Islanders add a proven top 4 defenseman to join Boychuk, Leddy and Hamonic that would leave just 2 spots open on the Isles roster to round out their defense corps. That would mean the Isles could trade one of Calvin de Haan, Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock. That doesn’t even take into account the other talented defenseman the Isles have in their organization in Scott Mayfield, Brian Strait and Matt Donovan to name a few. This is an area of incredible depth the Islanders have and can use in trades to make this team on par with any team in the East.
Looking 1 Year Ahead
The Islanders have some big decisions to make in regards to looking 1 year down the road as well. Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin are all UFA’s after next season. It would make sense to lock them up this summer as the Islanders have done with their other core players. Michael Dal Cole is one of the top prospects in all of hockey and should be one of the core Islanders forwards for years to come. However he is a year away and should spend one more year in junior. An interesting question is down the road whose key roster spot will he take?
The Islanders should be a team to follow this summer. I am glad to be aboard The Hockey Writers as an NY Islanders contributor. Follow me @TheNLKing.