Season Preview: The New York Islanders Defensemen

Sep 21, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils center

Adam Henrique

(14) keeps the puck from New York Islanders defenseman

Matt Donovan

(46) during the first period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get started, congratulations are in order for you, the reader, on successfully surviving another offseason. The NHL season officially started last night, with a trio of fantastic games. We were relieved of severe hockey deprivation (more commonly known as SVD), and are now ready for Islanders’ hockey.

As mentioned, this past summer was an absolute bore at times, and it comes with good reason. The Islanders are now a good team. They have the offense, and the defense has made positive strides, and hopefully, if predictions are correct, the goaltending does good enough to keep the ship afloat.

The goaltending is the X-Factor of the team, there’s no denying it, but the team’s defense is going to be crucial to the success (or lack thereof) of the Islanders as a team.

The defense should have a strong season, and with that final tidbit, here are the predicted stats and placings of the 2013-14 New York Islanders.

Travis Hamonic

Without much debate, Hamonic stands as the most complete defenseman on the Islanders’ roster. He’s physicality is something we’ve all seen since his arrival to the NHL. His stats haven’t been outstanding on the offensive side of the puck, but they’ve been solid for a young player. Hamonic is also a leader on this team. While Tavares earned the title of captain, and rightfully so, Hamonic was snubbed of having an “A” on his chest. He is an emotional player. He motivates the team, most notably this season shown during the Islanders’ regular season streak and in the playoff series against Pittsburgh. Curious it would be to see if the ‘slight’ will only help generate more energy from this emerging talent.

Hamonic, along with top-pairing defenseman Andrew MacDonald, will be a top defensive contributor on both sides of the puck this season. Fresh off a seven year contract, Hamonic will have personal records on offense with his terrific slap shot, and will continue to be a shut-down defenseman.

2013-14 stats: 11 goals, 24 assists, 35 points

Andrew MacDonald

Islanders’ defenseman Andrew MacDonald is one of the more underrated defenseman in the NHL. He may not be the most prolific offensive defenseman, but he plays his position well. He blocks shots, and is a shut-down defenseman, and occasionally, can dazzle fans with a booming slap shot.

MacDonald’s vitality was evident during the postseason series against Pittsburgh. MacDonald went down in Game 4 with a broken wrist after blocking shot, and the Islanders went onto lose the next two games, one of which was a blowout.

His defense pays huge dividends for this young Islanders defense, while his veteran presence will certainly add to what will be a nice season for Andrew MacDonald.

2013-14 stats: 8 goals, 17 assists, 25 points

Lubomir Visnovsky

Visnovsky was arguably the best offseason pickup for the Islanders in the last 3 years. Talk about an out-of-the-blue signing, and this name will come up from Islanders fans.

Visnovksy had himself a pretty solid year, putting up 14 points, 3 of which were goals in 35 games. Visnovksy served as a solid power play quarterback along with former Islander Mark Streit.

Visnovsky’s production should be higher with an 82 game season. Visnovksy, commanding the Islanders second pair of defenseman, hopefully will be one of several factors to try and fill the offensive void left by Mark Streit following his departure.

2013-14 stats: 14 goals, 27 assists, 41 points

Thomas Hickey

One of several rookies skating for the team last year, Thomas Hickey wasn’t a particular standout. He wasn’t much of an offensive threat with 4 points in 39 games, but he did play respectable defense alongside Lubomir Visnovsky.

Hickey, who played second pair minutes last year, will most likely fall to the final pair of defense alongside Brian Strait, although with the addition of Matt Donovan, that may very well change. And despite potentially being downgraded, Hickey will have himself a productive season. Again, scoring and offense won’t be huge, but he is a solid defenseman, and expect to see that from Hickey this season.

2013-14 stats: 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points

Matt Donovan

Fresh off the foreseen success of making the Islanders team for Opening Night, defenseman Matt Donovan is believed to have a great rookie season. The kid has outstanding potential as an offensive defenseman, leading all players in the AHL at his position with 48 points, and is expected to be one of the contributing factors in making up for the loss of Mark Streit.

Donovan could very well play on a second pairing with Lubomir Visnovsky. Visnovsky helped solidify a rookie defenseman last year in Thomas Hickey, so it would make sense to put a veteran with a rookie with such great potential.

2013-14 stats: 10 goals, 21 assists, 31 points

Brian Strait

Brian Strait is coming off a year in which he sustained a major injury that limited him to play only 19 games. There wasn’t too much we were able to see from Strait, but what we did see was promising.

Strait recorded 4 points, all of which were assists in 19 games. Strait’s season was highlighted by opening up the scoring for the Islanders in Nassau Coliseum in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Strait should have himself a solid season. He’s not a superstar by any means, but he will post a strong season for the Islanders.

2013-14 stats: 8 goals, 15 assists, 21 points 

Matt Carkner

Matt Carkner is really more of a player used for physical purposes than anything else. The Islanders were lacking physicality on the defense, and Carkner was brought in to fix that.

Carkner served his purpose, adding physicality when he was called upon. His tenacious play led him to rack up the penalties, recording 46 PIM in 22 games.

Carkner will likely serve as the 7th man this season, and he should. His defensive play isn’t outstanding, but he does serve his need when called upon.

2013-14 stats: 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points

Griffin Reinhart

Griffin Reinhart surprised many fans and analysts when it was announced he made the team. Coming into camp, the main competition for a roster spot seemed to be a case of Clavin de Haan vs. Matt Donovan, but Reinhart managed to sneak onto the Opening Night roster via the 9 game tryout, which will not burn a year off his Entry Level Contract.

It isn’t likely that Reinhart will stay after the first 9 games of the regular season have concluded, but look for him to make an impact. He should be a defenseman who will play a little bit in multiple spots on the roster. He is one of the top defensive prospects the Islanders have, and we should be able to get a little taste of what the future of this team will look like.

2013-14 stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points

As always, thanks for being an active reader here at Eyes on Isles. With the regular season underway, you can certainly count on the devoted staff here at Eyes to bring you up-to-the-minute news and expert opinions surrounding the NHL.

-Peter (@pjmcentee)