The New York Islanders off-season was quietly successful, with Garth Snow adding necessary grit, speed and craftiness to an already maturing lineup of hockey players.
Combine that with one of the deepest amateur pools in the entire National Hockey League and you have all the makings of a rebuild that is nearing its completion and hopes to bring a string of successful, productive and silverware laden seasons in the coming years.
As the attention turns to training camps for all clubs beginning over the course of the next two weeks, some popular hockey websites and magazines have started to make their pre-season predictions already.
If it seems a little early to you, you can guarantee that the same thought resonated in my head as well. Maybe the quiet silence of this summer in the NHL has contributed to ‘cabin fever’ among writers and bloggers alike.
After perusing some of the material, it seemed that a common thought was echoing. While many agree that the New York Islanders are a team on the rise, they also staked claim to them taking a step back this season and not fulfilling the expectations created from last season’s exciting last two months and playoff round elimination.
Now we cannot lay any claim to ‘knowing’ what is going to happen. Basically at the end of the day, a lot of what we offer are facts with a sprinkle of opinion. But I can tell you this….the Islanders are a better team than the one that finally faltered in game six against the Pittsburgh Penguins. And if the rest of the journalism community does not want to see that, so be it. Perhaps the league will catch that theme as well and underestimate this club as many have over the past couple of seasons.
The addition of Cal Clutterbuck makes them a compete annoyance to play against every night and teams will be spending many post-games in their sauna’s and whirlpools after facing a combination of the two leading hitters of the past four seasons (Matt Martin, of course, being the other). Pierre-Marc Bouchard does come with question marks about his health but also with no doubts of his skill. Peter Regin adds lower line depth and tons of speed to combine with Michael Grabner, who is already the fastest of them all in the entire league.
Those factors combined with the continued brilliance of John Tavares and maturation of Travis Hamonic puts me very optimistic about the 2013-14 season. With that being said, it’s not all ‘peaches and cream’ as they say for any NHL club over an 82 game haul. Let’s look at the top five burning questions on the hot stove about the New York Islanders.
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