Tag: Garth Snow

Garth Snow

Under Pressure: Garth Snow


Nearly 12 months ago we here at ProHockeyTalk asked, What’s Garth Snow thinking?

Almost a calendar year later, the same question can be asked.

With new ownership in the process of taking over and the Islanders set to move into a new home for 2015-16, one has to wonder what Mr. Snow is thinking.

The man, who appointed Snow general manager eight years ago, Charles Wang, is on his way out and the team has qualified for the playoffs just once in the past seven years.

With big changes at the top ahead, Snow is under pressure to turn his team into a playoff contender sooner rather than later.

New York finished the 2013-14 season 14 points back of eighth place Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Islanders were last in the Metropolitan Division with a 34-37-11 record.

The Red Wings finished with 93 points to clinch that final playoff spot last season, the only time the Islanders have finished with more than 80 points in an 82-game season was Snow’s first year at the helm in 2006-07 where the Islanders lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Buffalo Sabres in five games.

Under Snow’s watch, the Islanders have had three coaches and one can argue, given Snow’s pressure to win now, Jack Capuano could also be written about in this space.

The good news for Snow is he’ll have his captain, and top center, John Tavares back and healthy after suffering a knee injury at the 2014 Olympics limited him to just 59 games in 2013-14.

Snow went out and got Tavares some help adding depth to the forward group by signing Mikhail Grabovski to a four-year $20 million deal and Nikolai Kulemin to a four-year $16.8 million deal. The hope is Grabovski and Kulemin can rekindle their chemistry formed while playing together for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In goal, Snow went out and picked up the rights to Jaroslav Halak from Washington and inked him to a new four-year $18 million deal. Halak, who has a career 144-85-29 record with a .918 save percentage, should slot in nicely for the departed Evgeni Nabakov.

Halak should slot in nicely that is if he gets help from his defense.

The Islanders were 28th last season in goals-against ahead of only Florida and Edmonton. Snow didn’t do much to help his goaltender. He did go out and acquire the rights to Dan Boyle from San Jose, but was unable to come to terms with the pending unrestricted free agent, who signed with the New York Rangers.

The Islanders are also without Andrew MacDonald, who Snow sent to Philadelphia in March for minor leaguer Matt Mangene and a pair of draft picks.

Left are Lubomir Visnovsky, Travis Hamonic, Matt Carkner, Thomas Hickey and Brian Strait in addition to Calvin de Haan and Matt Donovan.

The Islanders did add a former Maple Leafs property on the back end as well in T.J. Brennan, the reigning AHL defenseman of the year. But given that Brennan was a minus-10 while scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace with the Toronto Marlies last season, I’m not sure how much help Brennan can be.

Then there’s budding prospect Griffin Reinhart, who at 20-years-old, could crack the Islanders opening day lineup. But to rest your defensive hopes on a rookie is recipe for disaster.

Snow’s inability to shore up defensive concerns could be what sinks him in New York’s final season on Long Island.

Related: In praise of John Tavares

It’s New York Islanders Day at PHT

Travis Hamonic, Kyle Okposo, John Tavares

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New York Islanders.

Last season was a disappointment for a lot of reasons for the Islanders.

After making the playoffs in 2013, they plummeted to last place in the Metropolitan Division. While the offense was all right, the Isles problems centered around their defense and goaltending as they finished 28th out of 30 in the league in goals allowed per-game giving up 3.18 per. Only the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers were worse.

Even the brightest spot on offense, John Tavares, suffered his own pitfalls. He suffered a season-ending knee injury during the Olympics in Sochi, something that didn’t sit well with GM Garth Snow. As for how he played when healthy, he had 66 points (24 goals) in 59 games and still nearly finished the season as the team leader in points.

Instead, Kyle Okposo picked up the slack in Tavares’ absence and ended the season leading the team in goals (27) and points (69) – both career highs. Just think of what he would’ve done if Tavares could’ve finished the season with him and Thomas Vanek (44 points in 47 games).

Frans Nielsen provided another bright spot up with career-highs in both goals (25) and points (58) as well. With Nielsen and Okposo providing highs, seeing Michael Grabner regress to 12 goals in 64 games was disappointing. The Isles did get a glimpse of the future as both Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome showed signs they’ll be key contributors soon.

Where the Isles had their biggest problems were on the back end. Injuries kept Lubomir Visnovsky off the ice for most of the season and they dealt Andrew MacDonald to the Flyers at the trade deadline. Travis Hamonic came back to the pack a bit after strong play two seasons ago, but guys like Calvin de Haan and Matt Donovan had a chance to show what they had and should get a shot to own a spot in the top six next season.

After seeing Evgeni Nabokov come up small against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs, he showed basically what he is putting up a .905 save percentage while dealing with a handful of injury issues. Both Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson showed how young they were by not being able to keep up with NHL-level players when Nabokov was out. Things in goal will be decidedly different next season or else coach Jack Capuano might be in real trouble.

Offseason recap

It was an adventurous offseason on Long Island for both GM Garth Snow and owner Charles Wang.

The Islanders fixed their biggest problem, goaltending, right away by trading for Jaroslav Halak and then signing him to a new deal. Adding Chad Johnson as his backup after a successful season in Boston means, suddenly, stopping pucks shouldn’t be their biggest concern.

Adding Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to their crew of forwards should bring a marked improvement in depth. With Tavares, Grabovski, Nielsen, and Casey Cizikas they’re looking strong up the middle. They didn’t exactly address their needs on the blue line, but may have gotten a bit of a steal signing the AHL’s top defenseman T.J. Brennan.

The biggest change, however, came recently that Wang is selling the team to former Washington Capitals owner Jon Ledecky. With next season being the last one on Long Island, they’re trying to go out with a bang.

Isles re-sign de Haan to three-year deal, Cizikas for two years

Casey Cizikas, Evgeni Nabokov, Calvin de Haan

The New York Islanders took care of some restricted free agent business on Tuesday.

The team announced they’ve re-signed defenseman Calvin de Haan to a three-year deal and center Casey Cizikas to a two-year contract.

Arthur Staple of Newsday reports de Haan’s deal is worth $5.9 million and Cizikas’ deal is for $2 million.

Last season, de Haan got a chance to show why the Islanders took him 12th overall in the 2009 NHL Draft with three goals and 16 points in 51 games with the big club. In that time on Long Island he averaged just over 21 minutes of ice time per game.

Getting big minutes and providing solid production (as well as possession numbers) means he should factor into the Isles’ top-six on the blue line next season. Getting him for under $2 million per season makes this an outstanding deal for GM Garth Snow.

Cizikas has been a solid third and fourth line player for the past two seasons and earned a full season on Long Island this past year. In 80 games he had six goals and 16 points and played an average of 13:22 per game. Now that the Isles have Mikhail Grabovski joining John Tavares and Frans Nielsen up the middle, Cizikas’ role on the fourth line would seem to be set.

Kings, four other teams have nine picks in 2014 Draft

Dean Lombardi

L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi is still riding the high of winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in three seasons, but he’s going to have a busy time at the NHL Draft next week.

The Kings will have nine picks at the 2014 Draft. Joining L.A. with a busy day will be the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, and Washington Capitals.

For GMs Doug Armstrong and Garth Snow, they’re a bit more used to this dance while Jim Nill and Brian MacLellan haven’t been running the show at the draft on their own very long. For MacLellan it’ll be his first and Nill his second.

The success the Kings have had in recent drafts says Lombardi and their array of scouts have done a solid job of finding those gems in the middle to late part of the first and second-rounds. Part of L.A.’s “That 70s Line” is a good example of that as Tanner Pearson was the 30th overall selection at the 2012 Draft and Tyler Toffoli went 47th overall in 2010.

Those five teams won’t be the only busy ones, however, as six other teams have eight selections. The Buffalo Sabres will have four picks in the Top 50 and five of the first 61 picks including three second-round selections. Sabres GM Tim Murray has made it clear he’s hoping to trade up to get another first-round pick to go along with the second overall selection.

With the number of questions surrounding the depth of talent in this year’s draft, these teams may not just be busy making selections but dealing them as well.

Snow says Capuano will be back as Isles coach

Jack Capuano

The New York Islanders will have one possible story line out of the way this summer.

Isles GM Garth Snow said coach Jack Capuano will return for his fifth season behind the bench. As Arthur Staple of Newsday shares, Islanders players support the return of Capuano and his assistants.

You saw Cappy’s system work extremely well at the end of the year,” Kyle Okposo said. “We were outworking and outplaying teams that were ahead of us in the standings. We played within the framework of the team really well. For whatever reason, we got away from that early in the year and it cost us.”

Injuries were a major buzzkill for the Islanders this season. Captain John Tavares and fellow star forwards Okposo and Michael Grabner suffered season-ending ailments as did defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky, Brian Strait, and Calvin de Haan.

Capuano should get a full regalia or players back next season, setting the bar for him to try and re-capture the magic they had last season when they made the playoffs. As long as Snow is bringing back his coach, now maybe he can give him some help by finding a way to improve the goaltending position.