2013-14 Season Preview : New York Islanders

Bruce Bennett

Today's preview features the Brooklyn,er, New York Islanders who look to keep the momentum rolling after their return to the playoffs in 2013.

Last season the Islanders' 55 points was good enough to get them back into the playoffs for the first time since 2007.  They gave the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins all they could handle in their six game playoff series.  I still believe that if they Islanders had average goaltending they would have won that series.  With their young superstar and Hart Trophy finalist,John Tavares in tow, the Isles are looking to make a return trip to the post season this year.

Today we will hear from Dominik of Lighthouse Hockey as he will give us some insight on the "Brooklanders."

The Islanders returned to the playoffs last year and took the "world's greatest team ever assembled on paper" to seven games. Do you expect the Islanders to make the postseason again after a full 82 game season?

I think there's a good chance. The 48-game season probably makes anyone nervous about conclusions, but the Isles appeared to turn the corner not just in the standings, but in several underlying stat categories. Basically they controlled possession down the stretch and in their playoff series with Pittsburgh, and most of their key players should only get better...

You guys spent your playoff run doing the same thing San Jose fans did for many a spring; curse the name of Evgeni Nabokov.  The Islanders goalie situation has been a of laugh for the rest of the league.  Will the play between the pipes improve this year or will impede the Isles from taking the next step?

.... of course one of those key players who is unlikely to get better is Nabokov. If they can continue their form in front of him, and if he can try really hard to maybe be at least sort of, you know, average, they should be able to overcome his very un-star-like abilities. If not: Goalie implosion, head on a stake.

So, are the Isles moving to Brooklyn or not?

They are absolutely moving to Brooklyn, and anyone who says or writes otherwise has an agenda that does not align with "What Will Actually Happen in 2015." It's too bad things didn't work out in Nassau, but they spent the better part of that 30-year lease trying to find a solution. It's time for more lucrative pastures, in a place where the politics aren't quite so self-defeating.

The Islanders are now the proud owner of Cal Clutterbuck and his collection of douchey mustaches. What was the overall reaction from trading Nino Niederreiter for Clutterbuck?

Seven stages of prospect deflation: 1. Shock that's all they got for a 5th overall pick. 2. Acceptance that Nino sucked in the NHL (so far) and expected things before he showed he deserved them. 3. Disappointment that they drafted so high with such an outcome. 4. Fear that he might turn it around in Minnesota. 5. Hope that he doesn't. 6. Resignation that, toolish as Clusterbuck is, he's a useful NHLer who will help this year more than a pouting Nino would.

John Tavares was named a 2013 Hart Trophy finalist along with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. That is some pretty good company to be in. Is the year Tavares gets the national attention and takes his place among the NHL's elite players?

Without being too much of a homer, I'd argue Tavares already arrived at elite last year. It really is impressive how his game has improved -- on bad nights during his rookie year I'd have entertained any discussion about his skating keeping him from ever being an NHL superstar. But he went and fixed that, and is methodically honing every part of his game. Will he get more national attention this year? Probably, and it will probably be nauseating once the hype machine kicks in. I'll just enjoy his stunning play and even-keel attitude.

How excited is the team and the fans to be participating in the NHL Stadium Series?

I think most are guardedly excited, but with a few chips on their shoulder: Chip 1. The idea for a Battle of NY outdoor game was proposed by the Isles years ago. Instead teams like Philly and Pittsburgh were repeat participants. 2. The way it's set up, the Yankee Stadium game is an Islanders "home" game, meaning the Rangers only visit the Coliseum once this season. Chip 3. It's a little less special when the calendar is strewn with outdoor games, including another one involving the Rangers in the same venue.

Who are some of the young up and coming players, in the Islanders system, we should be on the look for in the next couple of years?

Definitely Ryan Strome, if he's not already on your radar. If he doesn't make the opening night roster, he might reach "best player not in the NHL" status and regardless, should be a star and complement to Tavares down the middle. Brock Nelson is also coming along really nicely as a two-way pivot out of Minnesota and U. of North Dakota.

On defense, Matt Donovan -- the first NHLer from Oklahoma -- might be a powerplay producer. Down the line, Griffin Reinhart and possibly Andrey Pedan should be bastards to play against on the blueline. Notice that I didn't mention any goalies? Bit of a concern, that.

Thanks again to Dominik for taking the time to chat with us.  We will get to see the Islanders early on in the year as they come Chicago on October 11th with the return trip to Uniondale on January 2nd.

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