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 one to remember fondly for Islanders fans. The team returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-2007 season. John Tavares earned a spot as a finalist for the Hart Trophy, the first Islander to do that since Bryan Trottier did in 1982. And better yet, Tavares is only getting better.
While the team is headed to Brooklyn eventually, their focus now is finding out how to stay in the playoffs in the revamped Metropolitan Division where memories of the old Patrick Division come flying back. Rivalries with the Penguins, Rangers, and Devils stay in tact while memories of old playoff wars with the Capitals come roaring back. Let’s just hope Dale Hunter is nowhere to be seen.
Hope can be a dangerous thing to have, but the Islanders have all the reason in the world to have it.
The Isles’ summer turned out to be one that had them feeling Minnesota. They dealt away problematic (for them) prospect Nino Niederreiter for rugged winger Cal Clutterbuck and then added Pierre-Marc Bouchard in free agency. Picking guys off the Wild roster isn’t always a recipe for success, but both should do well for the Islanders.
Dealing away captain Mark Streit to the Flyers opened up the “C” for Tavares to (likely) take hold of it this year and beyond. Elsewhere in free agency, they brought back goalie Evgeni Nabokov after staying out of the goalie trade wars and added center Peter Regin from Ottawa. They’re hoping his friendship with underrated Danish countryman Frans Nielsen can pay off.
New York has a good handful of younger prospects looking to crash the roster for bigger roles this year. Staying out of a tepid free agency class was by design. Names like Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Matt Donovan, Griffin Reinhart and Calvin de Haan will be talked about a lot during training camp and beyond.