Playing Armchair GM

Nov 29, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin (60) makes a save against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period of a game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Red Wings defeated the Islanders 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After the New  York Islanders were handed their 5th straight loss Friday night, 5-0 against the Detroit Red Wings, I saw a quick exchange between Chris Botta and Ray “Chicken Parm” Ferraro on Twitter:

Chris Botta (@ChrisBottaNHL) “Comes a point when it’s pointless to project changes. There just has to be, even for the unique thinkers running the #Isles.”

Ray Ferraro (@rayferrarotsn) @ChrisBottaNHL “its about or well beyond time to hire experienced pres to examine/hire a new direction / 1 playoff yr & out not good enough”

This got me thinking about the team a little differently. What realistic changes could be made that wouldn’t hurt the team in the long run, but still allow for a chance to enhance the Islanders line up? Would those changes create a new direction for the team without completely rebuilding it from the ground up?

Since change under Garth Snow has been painfully slow, I’m going to take it upon myself to make some plausible armchair GM/coaching decisions to help the team that will never have a chance of being made.

1) With Peter Regin (1-3-4) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (4-5-9) sporting one year deals and their less than admirable play thus far in 2013, I wouldn’t mind seeing one of the two shipped out for a late draft pick or whatever they’re worth. This would allow for Brock Nelson to get regular time in the Islanders line up and the pick could be flipped in a package deal for a defensemen, if and when that deal is made. In terms of a return, I would see Bouchard leaving over Regin for two reasons: 1) Regin can be a healthy scratch kept for depth at center in case of injury 2) Bouchard will likely see a better return based on his playing history and has played better than Regin so far this year.

2) There are a lot of calls for Ryan Strome to get his first taste in the NHL and the larger of a hole the Islanders put themselves in the more it’s starting to make sense to me. If Regin or Bouchard were to be shipped out for a pick, it would allow for Strome to step in on the first two lines and make the third line a bit stronger with Nelson or Nielsen’s presence. The one caveat here is that Strome has been playing center this season in Bridgeport, so for those who would like to argue “he’s a natural center” I have created  two mock-ups of the forward lines:

1) Strome – Tavares – Vanek, 2) Bailey – Nielsen – Okposo,

3) Clutterbuck – Nelson – Grabner,  4) McDonald – Cizikas – Martin

(Scratched: Boulton/Regin)


1) Nelson – Tavares – Vanek, 2) Bailey – Strome – Okposo

3) Clutterbuck – Nielsen – Grabner, 4) McDonald – Cizikas – Martin

(Scratched: Boulton/Regin)

3) Defense is harder to gauge because we have to believe Snow is on the phone trying to get a defensemen. Either way, despite Evgeni Nabokov and Kevin Poulin’s numbers, goaltending is not the Islanders issue. Poulin has stood on his head since being made the number one goalie, but without support in front of him he cannot be held accountable for many, if not all, of the goals allowed. The more obvious problem are the Islanders injuries to Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait, which have caused players like Radek Martinek and Matt Carkner to see regular time in the line up, which is flat out unacceptable. Calvin De Haan played well against the Washington Capitals and Matt Donovan, though he had his rookie moments, played fairly well in his time in the show.

If the Islanders aren’t going to make a trade, here’s what I’d like to make happen. Carkner waived, Donovan brought up, and Martinek a healthy scratch on most nights. In my opinion, Carkner has no place on the Islanders. The toughness he brings doesn’t offset the countless defensive mistakes we’ve seen this season.

So, with the type of November the Islanders had, having the kids up can’t hurt until Visnovsky and Strait come back or reinforcements come from outside the organization. It won’t be a NHL caliber defensive core, but either is what is out there now. Keep in mind these wouldn’t necessarily be the pairings, but more of who would be in the line up.

MacDonald – Hamonic

Hickey – De Haan

Ness- Donovan

(Scratched: Martinek)

4) Coaching change: Personally, I understand the players’ issue with a coaching change, as John Tavares has proclaimed a number of times that it’s on the players to step up. However, Jack Capuano‘s philosophy, whatever it is, is not getting through to the team. The players may have become complacent with his coaching style and are no longer motivated, creating, well, a 4-10-1 November, like many before it. For me, I would like for a coach who is innovative and not afraid to make a bold play, which puts Guy Boucher in mind, though many fans are calling for Peter Laviolette to come back to town. Regardless of how much the players like playing for Capuano, the results are not showing in the standings. Plain and simple.

I’m sure there are many things you didn’t like about those changes, but there aren’t many options that don’t include some irrational trade that won’t happen. Have any ideas? Think these weren’t so bad? Want to yell at me and say I’m a dummy? Leave a comment or catch me on twitter (@jonzella)

– Jon