How Good Will the Islanders Be in 2014-15?

A lot has been made of the Islanders’ off season to this point- and with good reason. Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog ranked them the most improved team this off season. Therefore, I think it’s fair to ask the question- how good will the Islanders be next season?


Last year, the Islanders had one of the best top lines in the league for most of the season, skating John Tavares, Thomas Vanek, and Kyle Okposo together.  Once Tavares got hurt at the Olympics and Vanek was traded to Montreal, it was abundantly clear that the team needed depth help. The players the team called up to help played very well, which surprised many people. Players such as Mike Halmo and Brett Gallant found a way into the conversation about future roles with the team. It’s safe to say that Garth Snow has helped the Islanders become one of the more deep teams in the league, offensively.

Snow added Nikolai Kulimen, Mikhail Grabovski, and Cory Conacher. Kulimen and Grabovski have great chemistry, noted by their time together in Toronto, and likely add a little humor to an already light and fun locker room. Conacher’s versatility makes him a valuable piece since he can play virtually all forward positions and play them well. He had fallen a bit last year, but on a one year contract, there’s virtually no downside to that signing.

While Garth didn’t bring in a new top line left winger (despite being a finalist for Vanek in free agency) the pieces are there to build a very good top line. Anders Lee and Brock Nelson both played very well in their time with the team, and one of the two will likely see themselves on that line come opening night.


Garth Snow made his biggest acquisition before the draft or free agency even started in acquiring Jaroslav Halak. Arguably his next best move was getting Chad Johnson, Boston’s backup to sign to a two year deal. That should be enough to describe how well these moves should be viewed.

If you’re confused, let’s go over this- the Islanders, while they have had solid goal tending in recent years, have yet to have a goalie that they can count on day in and day out for more than a few weeks at a time. Halak and Johnson give them that sense of reliability that fans have desperately pleaded for for years. The goaltending upgrades alone probably win the team, at minimum, five more games last year and make them much more competitive this year.


While the defense wasn’t upgraded tremendously from outside the organization, that might not be a terrible thing.

The Islanders have some good pieces to their defense that are young and cost controlled, such as Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey, and more. It’s all but certain that Griffin Reinhart will likely make the team out of camp, who should be able to

Travis Hamonic Islanders
(Icon SMI)

make an impact. The team will also see the return of Lubomir Visnovsky, who should be healthy following his concussion plagued season last year, and the addition of TJ Brennan.

The Islanders defense will only be getting better as the younger players, such as Ryan Pulock, Griffin Reinhart, Scott Mayfield, Ville Pokka, Kevin Czuczman, and more will be getting ready to take the next step and become NHL regulars. Competition for a spot only helps these guys.

Cut to the chase- How good will the Islanders be?

Well, unfortunately the team disappointed many after their playoff season, but I don’t see that being the case again this year. They were by far the most improved team so far this off season, in a division that really has not improved all that much. While it’s fair to say that the Rangers and the Penguins will likely be tops of the Metropolitan Division, the third spot and potentially a wild card spot are up for grabs, and those positions could be really any team in the division. It will be a tough go of it for all the teams in the Metro, but I think the expectation for the Islanders should be to compete for a wild card spot at the very minimum.

This is a team that is on the rise, and their moves this off season reflect that. Now, it’s time for these off season moves to pay off on the ice.

5 thoughts on “How Good Will the Islanders Be in 2014-15?”

  1. A lot willl depend on how good Halak is. If he has a horrible year or is injured, the Isles may miss the playoffs. Otherwise, they should at least make the playoffs and, if he is hot in the playoffs, they might go deep. I could see the Isles finishing anywhere from last if Halak is a bust to first if he puts together a Vezina-like season. One wild card is the apparent intent of Snow to move for a top four D. If he somehow lands Boychuk, the Isles could become a legit cup contender.

  2. Mitch, you lose what little credibility you have when you are unable to stick to discussing the isles off season moves and start off posting that they are a joje Let me guess……Ranger fan?

    Halak and Johnson are a major upgrade from Nabby, Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilson. Last season, the only isles goalie with a save % above .900 was Nabby with save % of .905.

    Frans Nielsen is coming off a 58 pt season and with the Grabovski signing, Nielsen slides down to the 3rd line to center Bailey and Grabner . Isles will have a lot of skill on the top three lines with Strome playing on the second line with Grabovski and Kuli.

    Reinhart almost made last season’s roster. Isles sent him back to juniors, where he had a very strong season and lead the Oil Kings to the Memorial Cup Championship. Ville Pokka has been playing in a Finnish Men’s league, against older players. They are the two young blueliners , who I think have the best chance to stick with the big club out of training camp.

  3. This article is a joke just like the Islanders have been for many years. Tavares is the only truly great player they have. Saying Conacher had fallen a bit last year? From 11 goals the previous year to only 7 so yes I guess he fell a bit but was never someone that is going to be even a small part of turning a failed team around.

    Halak is certainly a minor improvement at goal but also won’t be a savior. he was never good enough in St. Louis unless just barely making the playoffs is NY’s goal. Kulemin was another whopping 9 goal scorer last year and Grabovski is equally as below average. The only other decent player after Tavares is Okposo.

    The writers bio says it all “Lifelong Islanders Fan”. I suspect they will be marginally better this year but still miss one of the wildcard playoff spots. They are at least 2 more good players away from a team that has a shot to make it past the first round. They should give up another first round draft pick to the Sabres for one of Buffalo’s stockpile of defensemen.

    • Mitch,

      While I am an Islander fan and have been for years, that doesn’t cloud my judgement in the slightest. A simple Google search would show you how big an upgrade Halak is. He was 13th in the league in save percentage (playing for two different teams, mind you) which also puts him ahead in that category of Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Miller, Roberto Luongo, Corey Crawford and more.

      Conacher’s signing gives the team a solid piece they can plug in anywhere. Last year after Tavares went down, he would’ve been perfect to plug in anywhere in the lineup.

      I sincerely thank you for reading and the comment!

  4. It all depends of Garth Snow. Maybe they get into the playoffs I hope. But I just don’t trust Snow
    when it comes to idiotic trades that he makes. Nobody is perfect, but he has made some bad ones. The ownership is what it is. I want them to get in and do something, but we’ll see.

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