Tag: Garth Snow

Frans Nielsen

Backhand shelved: Isles’ Nielsen out a month with broken hand


The Olympic break might be coming at the best time for the New York Islanders and Frans Nielsen.

Isles GM Garth Snow says Nielsen will miss a month of action after suffering a broken hand on Saturday night, as Arthur Staple of Newsday shares.

Nielsen was injured when he was slashed by Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson. Johnson was suspended for two games for his stick work.

Losing Nielsen puts the Islanders at major two-way disadvantage. He’s third on the team in points and is one of (if not their best) defensive forward. He’s also arguably their best performer in the shootout.

Times have been rough enough for the Isles as they’re winless in seven of their past eight games. Going without Nielsen for at least a couple weeks once Olympic break is over won’t make matters any easier.

The Islanders’ future is happening right now

John Tavares

After years of finishing poorly, the New York Islanders piled up an impressive array of draft picks and more than a few of those guys are there already to put the organization on their back.

Any discussion like this begins with John Tavares. If you missed out on what he did for the Isles last season you missed an incredible performance by a 22-year-old. His 28 goals and 19 assists in 48 games led the team in scoring and earned him a spot as a Hart Trophy finalist.

By leading the Isles to their first playoff berth since ’06-’07, Tavares at the very least became a folk hero on Long Island. What he may have actually done though is sealed the deal to be the next team captain. By teaming up with Matt Moulson to provide a killer one-two punch, the Isles have at least one line that can score on anyone in the league.

The fun part for Isles fans and executives alike? He’s not even close to the only young guy emerging.

Among the forwards, there’s a host of young guys thriving on the Island. Josh Bailey (23), Brock Nelson (21), Kyle Okposo (24), Michael Grabner (25), Casey Cizikas (21), Matt Martin (23), and Anders Lee (22) all saw time last season with the Isles. 2011 first-round pick Ryan Strome (20) will join that group this year.

And you wonder why GM Garth Snow mostly stayed away from the free agent market this summer.

Things aren’t any different on defense where Travis Hamonic has emerged as one of the best the Isles have there. At 22 years old he’s playing top minutes in all situations and he’s got other young guys right there with him.

Thomas Hickey (23) and Brian Strait (25) both emerged as key players last season and Matt Donovan (23), Calvin de Haan (22), and Griffin Reinhart (19) will look to crack the NHL roster in training camp.

Of those last three, Reinhart has the highest potential but may stay in juniors. 2013 first-round pick Ryan Pulock could eventually figure into the mix as well.

Long story short, you might look at the Isles roster before the season starts and ask, “Just who are these guys?” Chances are you’ll get to learn them quickly because they’re going to be part of the Isles’ continued rise out of the basement.

Islanders may have a big question mark in Nabokov

Evgeni Nabokov

The New York Islanders last season saw Evgeni Nabokov provide stability to a position that saw endless questions surrounding it last season. After years of watching Rick DiPietro try to lock things down in goal only to see injury throw a wrench into the plans, Nabokov’s steady play led the Islanders back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.

This offseason saw GM Garth Snow opt to bring back Nabokov rather than sniff around at other available netminders because “the team wanted him back.” At 38 years old, his best years are likely behind him. With the Islanders on the rise, is it possible the guy who kept them steady last season will be the one holding them back now? Perhaps.

Nabokov’s two seasons with the Isles have seen him be an average to slightly below-average goalie. Check the numbers:

2011-12:  19-18-3  .914 SV%  2.55 GAA

2012-13:  23-11-7  .910 SV%  2.50 GAA

The goals-against average is OK and while the save percentage might look scary, some of his winningest seasons with the Sharks saw him put up the exact same numbers.

Of course, the Sharks also had issues flaming out in the playoffs earlier than they should have so maybe that’s not the greatest thing to bring up.

As he showed against the Penguins in the playoffs, Nabokov had problems keeping up after the regular season. He stopped shots at a .842 rate (a career postseason low) and if it weren’t for Marc-Andre Fleury’s struggles, Nabokov’s play would’ve come under more fire.

With performances like this, you have to wonder if a team like the Islanders, who have a superstar in John Tavares, a great goal-scorer in Matt Moulson, budding defensive talent in Travis Hamonic and other great youth either already on the scene or on the way, will see their seasons put in peril by Nabokov’s play.

The team seems to support him and pick him up when he struggles, but at some point that kind of magic goes away. At age 38 and after such disappointing play in the postseason, Garth Snow and gang have to be prepared in case he hit the wall already.

Islanders partner with Stockton for ECHL affiliation

Stockton Thunder logo

The New York Islanders making the playoffs last season has given them a taste for success and now they want their prospects to get that in the minor leagues.

The team announced today they’ve signed an affiliation agreement with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. Isles GM Garth Snow spoke glowingly of the Thunder.

“We are thrilled to have the Stockton Thunder join the Islanders as the organization’s ECHL affiliate,” general manager Garth Snow said. “The culture of success in Stockton will benefit our prospects and develop them into better hockey players as they work their way from the ECHL, to the AHL and eventually playing for the New York Islanders.”

Stockton has made the ECHL playoffs each of the last seven seasons and lost in the Kelly Cup finals to Reading this past year. In case you didn’t know, the ECHL is a level below the AHL in the minors.

Islanders won’t toll Thomas’ contract, will be a free agent Friday

Tim Thomas

With the announcement yesterday that Tim Thomas would be looking for a place to play when free agency opens on Friday, some wondered whether or not the Islanders would let him go.

Since he stayed away for the full season, even after being dealt to Long Island, the team could’ve decided to toll his contract and keep him an Islander this season. Both Arthur Staple of Newsday and Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos confirm the team will do no such thing and let him go to market.

If this sounds like a familiar situation for the GM Garth Snow and the Isles, it is.

When they acquired Evgeni Nabokov off re-entry waivers two seasons ago, he too refused to report and the team tolled his contract locking him into playing there the following season. It turned out to be a mutually beneficial arrangement as Nabokov wound up signing another deal with the team and led them to the playoffs this season.