John Tavares

Islanders’ biggest question: Will they finally make a deep run?

3 Comments

The New York Islanders haven’t won a playoff series since they foiled Mario Lemieux’s quest for a three-peat.

In case that doesn’t provide you context (or if you’re a Penguins fan, memories of a bloodied Kevin Stevens), that came back in 1993.

Let’s skip the “insert list of historical events/amusing Geocities references since 1993” portion of the post and merely note that the Isles have seen seven first-round exits and 14 failed postseason bids since they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the 1993 Eastern Conference Final.

One would assume that Islanders fans have learned to be patient over the years, and GM Garth Snow’s steady approach is really starting to pay off, even if some fans might feel a little antsy.

“We have a lot of players that still have term on their contracts,” Snow told NHL.com recently. “We’re looking for our younger players to take another step in the right direction, guys like Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee … they’re all good, young players that had quality seasons and they’re just going to keep getting better.”

When you pour over the Islanders’ roster, it’s clear that the team boasts a little of everything. John Tavares is absolutely one of the best forwards in the league. Their defense may lack a Duncan Keith-type superstar, but Johnny Boychuk isn’t chopped liver. They may not have the most mainstream recognition, but Jaroslav Halak – Thomas Greiss ranks as one of the better goalie tandems in the NHL.

The possession stats were there, too, last season.

Just about every sign points to the Islanders possessing the tools to finally make a nice playoff run, now they just have to get there.

It could get a little messy if they provide an all-too-familiar feeling, albeit in a new building.

Under pressure: Jack Capuano

9 Comments

If nothing else, it seems like New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano seems pretty comfortable on the hot seat.

Well, judging by PHT archives, it’s at least a common location. Let’s peer through the headlines over the past few years:

2014-15: After the season – “(Garth) Snow says Isles will stick with Capuano”; back in November – “Isles’ struggles putting heat on Capuano”

2013-14: After the season – “Snow says Capuano will be back as Isles coach”there were Peter Laviolette rumors, but Capuano wasn’t considered “the problem.” His struggles were testing Snow’s loyalties. Hey, but he had John Tavares’ faith.

2012-13: After the season – “Islanders will keep GM Garth Snow and coach Jack Capuano”

2011-12: He got the fabled vote of confidence

Jeez, quite the pattern for a guy who was bumped up from interim head coach back in April 2011, right?

Even with the vultures swirling over Capuano after each season, Snow remains loyal. After the Islanders fell to the Washington Capitals in that tightly played Game 7, he (mostly) praised Capuano’s work to New York Newsday.

“Our coaches did a great job, whether it was preparing our players or with the communication between coaches and players, which was outstanding,” Snow said. “There were some aspects of our game, whether it was with our penalty-kill that struggled early on and became a strength for us by the end, or our power play, which was a strength at times early on and we didn’t have one in the playoffs. That’s an area of concern. We’ll analyze all different areas of our team and try to get better.”

The Islanders have come along nicely over the years, yet you have to wonder how long the leash might be if they don’t generate a deep postseason run in the near future.

Could 2015-16 be Capuano’s last chance?

It’s New York Islanders day at PHT

13 Comments

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

The Islanders finished the 2014-15 season with a 47-28-7 record good for third in the Metropolitan Division; however, their first round playoff woes continued as the Washington Capitals edged New York in seven games. Four of the seven games were decided by one goal.

The Islanders have not been to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs since 1993.

“We were disappointed that we lost a Game 7 against Washington,” GM Garth Snow told NHL.com. “We have a great group of players in that room that are motivated to win a Stanley Cup, and I’m sure there are 29 other teams that are saying the same thing. We know we’re in for a battle. It’s a grind of a season for 82 games and just to make the playoffs is quite an accomplishment. Once you get in, anything can happen. We feel we have a team that can compete on a nightly basis.

“Two of the last three years, we’ve been in the playoffs. We lost a Game 6 two years back to Pittsburgh and lost a Game 7 to Washington last year. You hope that those experiences help a player grow, and that’s what we’re counting on.”

Captain John Tavares led the way offensively scoring a career-high 38 goals and 86 points in 82 games. The 24-year-old was a finalist for the Hart Trophy for the second time in his career.

Rookie Anders Lee had a solid first full season in New York scoring 25 goals and 41 points in 76 games. The 25-year-old finished ninth in Calder Trophy voting.

Nick Leddy, who was acquired by the Islanders last October, paced all New York defensemen with 10 goals and 37 points in 78 games.

In goal, Jaroslav Halak went 38-17-4 while posting a 2.43 G.A.A. and a .914 save percentage in 59 games during his first season with the Islanders.

Off-season recap

After 43 years of playing at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders begin playing at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this season.

On the ice, Snow didn’t make many changes to his roster, but he did ink goaltender Thomas Greiss to backup Halak.

The Islanders also dealt prospect defenseman Griffin Reinhart to the Edmonton Oilers for a pair of draft picks in June.

Roundup: Jackman to Preds, Moore to Devils, Parenteau to Leafs

6 Comments

Some smaller signings to pass your way…

Nashville has signed veteran d-man Barret Jackman to a two-year, $4 million deal with an average annual cap hit of $2 million. Jackman, 34, had previously spent his entire NHL career — 14 years, 803 games — with the St. Louis Blues and, though it was a while ago, is still one of just four defensemen in the last 25 years to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

In Nashville, he’ll provide a veteran presence in the club’s top-six defense alongside Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis.

New Jersey has signed former Blue Jackets, Rangers and Coyotes defenseman John Moore to a three-year, $5 million deal with an average annual value of $1.67M. Columbus’ first-round pick (21st overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Moore had a pretty decent ’13-14 campaign with the Rangers (15 points in 74 games, 21 playoff appearances) but was sent to Arizona as part of the Keith Yandle trade, and wasn’t given a qualifying offer by Coyotes GM Don Maloney.

• Just days after Montreal bought him out of his contract, P.A. Parenteau has signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with Toronto.

Parenteau, 32, has struggled to find the form that saw him score 67 points in 80 games for the Islanders in 2011-12 — when he played on a line with John Tavares — but less will be expected of him now that he’s no longer pulling down a $4 million cap hit.

Get to know a draft pick — Mitch Marner

Like we’ve done in the past, we’re profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. But this year, something new — we’re featuring special guest analysis from former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel, who currently serves as the president of North American Central Scouting.

Mitch Marner (C)

Height: 5’11 Weight: 160 Shoots: Right

Team: London Knights (OHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 6 among North American Skaters

What kind of player is he?

A diminutive skill guy, at a time when diminutive skill guys are all the rage.

Sure, that might be overstating things a bit, but we did just wrap a Stanley Cup Final in which Patrick Kane (5-foot-11, 181 pounds) and Tyler Johnson (5-9, 175) finished tied for the playoff scoring lead. And if you’re looking for offense, look no further than Marner — he finished second in the OHL in scoring this year (126 points in just 63 games), became the fastest 17-year-old in London history to score 40 goals and became the 46th player in franchise history to notch 100 points, joining the likes of Kane, John Tavares and Corey Perry.

“The NHL has changed,” Marner said earlier this month. “It’s not about height. It’s not about cross-checking as hard as you can. It’s not about hooking. All those get you a penalty nowadays. It’s a speed game now. It’s about thinking.

“If you have the brain to play in the NHL, no matter how tall you are, you can play. If you can dodge hits, you can play.”

Seidel says:

“The Kane comparisons are inevitable because both are undersized, offensive machines that had phenomenal careers with London. Marner is a magician with the puck and had the OHL scoring race locked up — until the final day of the season, when Dylan Strome notched six points to snatch the title. Although Marner needs to get stronger, concerns about his size are overstated as he’s shown a willingness to go into the dirty areas to make plays. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that he came into the OHL as a one-dimensional offensive star, only to evolve into a complete player under the tutelage of Dale Hunter. Marner has the potential to become a superstar in the NHL, and shouldn’t drop out of the top-five.”

NHL comparable: Kane/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

For more 2015 NHL Draft profiles, click here.