Monday, November 23, 2009

A Ray of Hope on Long Island?

When General Manager Garth Snow was awarded the 1st selection in the 2009 National Hockey League entry draft, London Knight’s John Tavares, it was the inevitable that they were turning the corner under the current ownership group led by Computer Associates CEO Charles Wang. Maybe, just maybe, this was the end of what has been an absolute nightmare for the Islander faithful who have witnessed a lack of direction, on-ice depth, leadership and most importantly, a true foundation.

Welcome to another 82 games for the New York Islanders, only this time, however improbable it might sound, the Islanders actually have necessary pieces to the puzzle to not only compete on a nightly basis, but to build around for right now and the future. This Hockey club might have just 8 wins in the first 23 contests, but for the most part, the first quarter of the season was about establishing a new identity.  I believe that's what they've done under Head Coach Scott Gordon. When GM Garth Snow chose superstar forward John Tavares over Swedish Defensemen Victor Hedman, you couldn’t help but think about the huge voids in the Islanders offense. You couldn’t help but think about which players would skate with Tavares.  I think it’s safe to assume, a large percentage of the Islander fan base were keen on finding out exactly that it would look like at the Nassau County Memorial Coliseum for the first 20 games.  A new beginning, or more of the same false hope?

Long Island, New York...please welcome journeyman Left Winger and Mississauga, Ontario native Matt Moulson, a former 2003 draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and past member of the Los Angeles Kings organization. Moulson signed a one year contract with the Islanders on July 6th, 2009 and as far as I am concerned, has been 2nd best to John Tavares, surpassing a short list of promising talent lead by forward Kyle Okoposo. Moulson’s 10 goals are good enough for the team lead through mid-November. His 18 points are just one shy of Tavares. At this time, it’s safe to assume, Garth Snow has found his first diamond in the rough. The former Cornell University standout has been more then a pleasant surprise for the Islanders. His positive energy on and off the ice, is just an added bonus.  This is how successful teams are formed.

If you look beyond Tavares and Moulson however, it’s safe to argue that Garth Snow isn’t done building the new foundation; in fact, he is still a ways away from doing that. Forwards Kyle Okoposo and Josh Bailey are apparently part of the future, but their combined 10 goals are simply not going to cut it. Veteran forward Richard Park is currently fifth in overall points with 9, and one goal to show for. Again, that’s not going to cut it. No offense to a hard working Richard Park, but when Scott Gordon is relying on a career high 32-point getter over the course of a 16-year career, you have major problems. So far so good though for Park, but it’s not what the doctor ordered; never has been, and never will be.

Knock on wood Islander Faithful, Defensemen Mark Streit is healthy and through 23 games, is fourth on the team in scoring. The highly talented offensive defenseman was brought in as an Unrestricted Free Agent in July of 2008 and has become a quiet leader of the Islanders back end. Yet if I were you, I would ask General Manager Garth Snow where his partner is. When will the Islanders bring in an impact defenseman to compliment Streit? Jack Hillen, Andy Sutton, Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek and Bruno Gervais make up for the rest of the blueline right now, but it’s the same story every year for the majority of this group. They are not good enough on paper, which makes the on ice level of play that much worse. Signing three starting goaltenders (Dipietro, Biron, Roloson) isn't the answer to defensive shortcomings. Bottom line, Garth Snow must bring in a player to compliment Mark Streit.

A foundation is there for the Islanders, and if you have watched a good portion of their games you would agree with me. You would also agree that there are still needed assets in several areas on this squad, and simply dead Weight in others. Garth Snow needs to continue to find diamonds in the rough like Matt Moulson if Charles Wang is not going to give him the go ahead green light to make an impact trade. For the time being however, John Tavares and company will continue with the identity process, and as far as I'm concerned, it really hasn't been too bad so far.

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Mike Colligan said...

It's hard to argue with statistics, but how much of Moulson's success do you think is Tavares related?

I guess what I'm asking is whether it's a case of Moulson (a nobody) being good, or Tavares being that good at making others around him better. Does Moulson put up those kind of points on a top line with Park and Weight last season?

Crazy Canton Cuts said...

great post

go Caps ;)

Anonymous said...

When (IF?) Dipietro comes back, do the Islanders move Biron or Roloson for that defenseman you mention? Seems logical to me.

Darren Coslov said...

Matt Moulson was part of a major overhaul in Pittsburgh when Ray Shero was brought in. Fortunately for Moulson, he was able to quickly showcase his game out west in the Kings organization. Whether it was in LA or Manchester, his game was evident. He was a top 6 guy.

That right there, is why I give Garth Snow lot's of credit. He went out and got this guy and knew of that possibility of paying immediate dividends.

Now, all that being said, you put him with a guy like Tavares, your gonna have success no matter what, but I do think Moulson will only get better playing with Tavares, in terms of confidence and increasing the numbers, but I also think Moulson had quite a game prior to coming to the Island.

Darren Coslov said...

When Garth Snow had 3 goaltenders on his hands heading into camp, I think it's safe to say that eventually he would have the ability to cash in on one of them, once their #1 was healthy in Dipietro.

I would imagine there would be interest in Biron right off the bat. Darcy Regier is not comfortable with Patrick Lalime as a backup to Ryan Miller.

Looking at their blueline, I can think of a couple possibilities.

Darren said...

That being said, I like the idea of dangling a goaltender for a Dman. It's a matter of timing though. Garth Snow has some leverage though.

Mike Colligan said...

Knowing Dipietro's past, I would guess they'll probably make sure he's set before they ship anyone out.

Perhaps waiting until the trade deadline would be their best bet. Find a team that's on the verge of the playoffs and looking for a bonafide starter.