While the team doesn’t have a dark horse-type goalie like Craig Anderson (instead they’re a bit wobbly with the aged Dwayne Roloson and the hobbled Rick Dipietro), but perhaps the New York Islanders’ most optimistic fans might be hoping for a Colorado Avalanche-type resurgence.
One area where the Islanders match the Avalanche is in the sheer amount of youth on their club, though one might debate if the team from Long Island can boast the same quality of prospects. If that parallel holds true, third year player Kyle Okposo could be the Islanders’ answer to Avs power forward Chris Stewart.
Okposo discussed the upcoming season with NHL.com, including being in the odd position of being a near-veteran compared to the even younger talent flooding the Islanders system.
Okposo, the Isles’ first pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, is beginning his third full NHL season at age 22. But on a team that’s got a large contingent of kids, Okposo is among the older Islanders in point of service with the team.
“It feels a little different,” he told NHL.com after a workout Thursday at Iceworks, where Okposo and many of his teammates are skating prior to the opening of training camp next week. “I know what to expect. I know the League pretty much, and the players. That’s a big thing for us, especially because we’re such a young group.”
Okposo isn’t exactly a grizzled veteran. But he says he’s learned a lot in his two-plus seasons since joining the Islanders after leaving the University of Minnesota.
“You know how certain players play,” Okposo said when asked what he’s learned from the time he entered the League until now. “It’s also another year of chemistry for our team, and I think that helps quite a bit – just knowing how each other play. I’ve pretty much played with everyone now, and the chemistry definitely helps.”
It’s not a consensus, but many experts think that John Tavares might make a nice jump in his sophomore season, though Steven Stamkos comparisons might be difficult to match. If Tavares does improve considerably, Okposo could be one of the major beneficiaries.
I think that the Atlantic division is deep enough that dreams of a big playoff run might be a bit much for the Islanders, but if it happens, Okposo will be one of the catalysts. He might just be a player to watch in 2010-11.