Poll: New York Islanders’ Position Most in Need of an Upgrade

By James McDermott

The New York Islanders have moved into the second half of their 2014-15 schedule and have performed as well as even the most optimistic fan could have projected to this point.  They are currently perched atop the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division with a 28-13-1 record. The team have shown themselves to be an extremely deep and talented squad, one that has the ability to win games even if they are not playing at their absolute best. That is a trait that has allowed them to avoid the prolonged losing streaks that have doomed Islander rosters of the past.

However, there is always room for improvement with any roster, and these Isles are no different. These are my suggestions for how the Isles could improve at every level:

A) Bring in a top 4 defenseman.

Preferably of the ‘stay-at-home’ variety. The Isles are a solid offensive team but they are 21st in the NHL in goals against per game. If this team is serious about making a deep run through the playoffs they must tighten up their defense.

B) Get John Tavares a left wing.

The captain is having another excellent year for the Isles. He has been consistently flanked on his right by Kyle Okposo this year, but the wing position to his left has been a revolving door the entire season. Garth Snow should do anything he can to provide Tavares and Okposo with a steady presence to fill out the top line. The pair has shown it can be lethal when given the chance to play with a true top line caliber player, as was the case when Thomas Vanek was deployed there last season.

C) Replace Chad Johnson with a different veteran NHL backup.

Johnson was signed by Snow to provide the Isles with a steady number two behind starter Jaroslav Halak. Halak has been nothing short of sensational for the Isles this season, the same can not be said for his understudy. Johnson’s 3.40 goals against average and .869 save percentage are not acceptable numbers, even for a backup.

It will likely be impossible for Snow to address all of these needs this season, so he must prioritize which area of the roster is in the most need of reinforcements. Obviously, the Isles have shown that even as they are presently constituted they are among one of the East’s best teams, but I, like many Isles fans, want more from this team than just a trip to the postseason.

Please, please, please, feel free to make any other suggestions or explain you vote in the comments. I’d love to hear from you all.