Hope For The Future: Long Island Dreams
Welcome to our newest series, wherein we detail how each of the teams who missed the playoffs this past season has some bright hope in their future. Well, probably, anyways.
The New York Islanders were actually rather lucky this past season, going 19-13-11 in one goal games - which makes their roughly .500 record overall a little bit worrisome. However, they aren't particularly old or untalented, so there are definitely signs that good things are around the corner.
Power Play - The Islanders scoring was deep - they had seven players finish with at least 35 points. They also have plenty of young talent in John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, and Jack Hillen. They even got 30 goals from Matt Moulson. They have roughly $25 million in cap space to work with, and only a handful of fairly cheap internal players (including Moulson) that need re-signed.
Shorthanded - The team may have had scoring depth, but Tavares' team-leading 54 points were only good for 76th best in the league. Special teams was a year-long struggle, and point-man Mark Streit isn't getting younger. Goaltending has been rough as well, with Rick DiPietro still unable to stay healthy for any serious length of time (only played 13 games the past two seasons after missing 58 in the previous three). The team keeps playing poorly, but not quite poorly enough to get one more top-flight player to have alongside Tavares and Okposo.
Shootout Loss - The Islanders will go as DiPietro goes, really. If he can get healthy - which becomes a bigger "if" every year - the Islanders could have a solid goaltending presence to keep them in more games and have their developing youngsters push them over the edge. Without Rick, they'll need to start looking for another franchise goalie sooner than later, which will only extend the rebuilding to a point where the fans might push themselves over the edge.