A third of the way through the 2009-2010 season, and the Isles are very much in the thick of things. How many of the so called “hockey pundits” would have predicted that? I think the general consensus from a lot of the experts was the notion that we would not be much better than last season. Sure, there are still some 55 games to go, but the New York Islanders are competing and it is not completely unrealistic to think they have a shot at being a part of the final eight in the conference come April.
In my opinion, barring any significant injuries to the team, it is going to be an interesting next few months. First of all, with Rick DiPietro now practicing and expecting to play some conditioning games before rejoining the club some time in mid-December, it will then lead to the question of what will be done about Roloson and Biron? If DP is game ready and steps back into the roll as our number 1 goalie, one of the others will have to be moved.
What, to me, is also quite interesting is the news that Garth Snow has been given the green light to spend money on the team for a playoff effort. This will then obviously mean a trade or trades in order for it to be made effective, which opens the door to a lot of speculation. I will say that, at this point, as this team develops and grows into Scott Gordon’s system, I am not particularly comfortable with the idea of bringing in new personnel or parting with anyone. It is, of course, far too early for such pondering, but I still find myself feeling a bit of uncertainty and caution in considering any possibilities. Yes, we now have some prospects in our system, but is it too early to start thinking about who would be worth trading or if anyone is worth trading? And, of course, at this stage, who is worth trying to get? Perhaps I am a bit gun shy from previous years and the chances of pulling off another Butch Goring-like acquisition are quite slim, but I don’t find a lot of excitement in this “news”.
As much as it is quite a bit too early to delve to far into it on December 1, I am going to be curious to see what the Isles fans out there have to say on this matter. Maybe, I am reading far too much into nothing, as I have become quite a nervous Islander fan in recent years. I like the way this team is now starting to show serious signs of coming together, and I very much am hoping to see the further development of JT, Okposo, Bailey and others. We also have more than a few potentially good players in the system who could make a difference within the next year or two. Having so much money free beneath the salary cap can allow the Isles to lock more than a few of our younger “stars” into contracts that will keep them around for a while.
In any event, let’s just hope Nielsen is back swiftly, and Sutton’s projected time on the IR will be more towards the 2 than the 4 weeks. We are on the road again, though, I believe that when it is all said and done, we will have played half our away games this season and only have played 11 at home. However, it starts in Atlanta on Thursday, so let’s just keep the proverbial ship on a steady course towards hockey in May on the island.