At 21 years old, John Tavares is clearly the face of the New York Islanders.
Still, regular finishes in the East’s cellar furnished the team with plenty of other young players. For the team to take a big step forward, these offensive players need to progress:
Kyle Okposo – On the bright side, Okposo reached a career-high with 24 goals last season. Still, the team has a lot invested in the young power forward, so they’d love to see a larger jump in 2012-13.
Michael Grabner – The speedster’s breakout in 2010-11 presented the makings of a letdown, and 32 total points was disappointing (a -18 didn’t help, either). Still, he did manage 20 goals, so don’t discount his chances of bouncing back.
Josh Bailey – After scoring just 15 points in his first 61 games last season, Bailey finished on fire (17 points in 19 contests). That flourish partially came from moving to the wing, where the Isles would be wise to keep the 22-year-old forward.
Ryan Strome – Could the fifth overall pick from 2011 leap into the NHL already? Even if he can’t, Strome seems on a path to becoming a go-to guy for Long Island.
Kirill Kabanov – The boisterous Russian winger should be on Garth Snow’s radar.
Brock Nelson – Great size, even better name.
Are there any other young scorers that need to bring more to the table for the Islanders?
Islanders offseason report
At least they have Tavares
A look at Travis Hamonic
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.