As long as the Los Angeles Kings are around, they’re not the worst team in the NHL. But they’re close, and L.A. is a year or two away from moving up in the standings.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, they don’t have the same outlook. Except for their goaltender, they don’t have any reason to be hopeful for the future.
Forwards: The only forward on the Islanders that any one cares about is Mike Comrie, and that’s only because he’s dating Hilary Duff. The rest of the team is a mismatch of players that are over the hill and guys you’ve never heard of.
In the over the hill category, there’s Doug Weight and Bill Guerin. In the “who are these guys” group, there’s Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen.
Trent Hunter had a decent rookie season with 25 goals, but have only scored 20 once in the past three years. Last year, he had only 12 goals in 82 games (only two on the powerplay), which is not a good sign for a second-line player.
The best bit of trivia for this team has to do with Mike Sillinger. Sillinger is now on his 12th team, an NHL record.
Defence: The Islanders tried to improve their defence and powerplay this offseason by signing Mark Streit to a five-year contract worth $4.1 million a year. While Streit is a halfway-decent defenceman with a hard slapshot, the Islanders will find a lot of his offence was because of the product of the system he was in with Montreal. Because the Habs had so many weapons on the powerplay, it left Streit open more for that shot. Streit will have a lot more trouble with the Islanders.
Like the forwards, except for Streit and Brendan Witt, most people may not have heard of the defencemen. That’s also not a good sign.
Goaltending: Fairly or unfairly, Rick DiPietro has a lot to live up to. The Islanders traded Roberto Luongo to Florida before drafting DiPietro with the first overall pick in 2000. Then, the Islanders signed him to a 15-year contract.
DiPietro has the ability to be a great goalie. But he has a horrible team in front of him. But he is the best player they have. If he ever gets injured for any length of time, this team would be in a lot of trouble.
Pool picks: Who to take: Streit and Comrie. Players to avoid: Everyone else. Streit and Comrie are the only two players who you should consider taking in a hockey pool, and that’s only in a deep draft. Someone has to score on this team, but probably not. Comrie led the team last year with 49 points. Imagine a team where the top point-getter doesn’t even get 50 points. That’s the New York Islanders.
Miscellaneous: Despite the Islanders troubles, things may be looking up the season after this one. Their top-four forwards on the payroll (Guerin, Weight, Comrie and Sillinger) will be unrestricted free agents. That will free up some money for the team to go after some big free agents next summer. That is, if they can convince someone to go to the Islanders. But then again, this is the team that will be paying Alexei Yashin $10 million over the next three years not to play with their team (and then $2.2 million a season for four years after that).
Expected finish: Fifth in the Atlantic division, 15th in the Eastern conference
Overall: Only watch the games if you’re hoping to have a Hillary Duff-sighting.