Editorials

New York Islanders: The Best From The Bottom

By Farrell Hirsch
Apr 2, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube (30) before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube (30) before the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New York Islanders roster has some players with limited expectations. But what’s the most we can expect from them? What’s the best the bottom can give us in 2016-17?

For the purposes of this discussion I am going to define the bottom of the New York Islanders roster as guys making less than $2.5 million this season, and with a possibility, but no logical guarantee of a roster spot.

So though Cizikas and Clutterbuck may be on the fourth line, they don’t meet the standards for the article because they earn too much and are a lock for next season’s roster. Bailey and Chimera may not be your favorites, but, right or wrong, they have secured spots.

There’s about a half-dozen guys who meet the requirements for this discussion. Each lives with the real possibility that this season could take a bad turn and damage their careers. But let’s take a moment and look at their best case scenarios.

Eric Boulton

I’m not knocking Eric Bolton’s career, but it is most likely substantially over. I wish that didn’t sound like a knock because this is a guy who made the most of his chances, and seems beloved in the room. But what will he be doing to earn his $150,000 in 2016/17?

If he is in Bridgeport as a mentor, there are exactly two forward there who are legit prospects.   One needs to learn to walk the straight and narrow, the other guy needs to learn how to put on some girth and bring it every night.

The best the Islanders can get from Eric Bolton this year is that he turns these two talented kids into NHL players.

Scott Mayfield/Adam Pelech

Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech also reside at the bottom of the roster as they seem to be fighting for the number seven defense spot. Conventional internet wisdom says that Mayfield gets the spot because Pelech has another year of waiver immunity.

The best we can hope for from Mayfield is that when given the chance to get in the lineup, his strength and competitive nature become infectious. He’s not rising above the number six spot, so we’re not gonna expect stats, just a little noticeable and well-placed aggression.

Pelech is just the opposite. Injuries and slumps will most likely get Pelech some playing time. But the best we can hope for is that he isn’t singled out too often. He should be hoping that by spring the fan base starts taking him for granted.

With just a handful of NHL games under his belt, “Oh yeah, I think he played tonight” is a reasonable ceiling of expectation for Pelech next season.

Alan Quine

Alan Quine was a revelation in the season’s waning moments, and he was a hero for one night in the playoffs. But what is he over a six month, 82 game, season?

I see message board fans prognosticating all sorts of wondrous results. But if I had to describe him in two words they would be “Keith Aucoin”.  I imagine the best we can hope for is that he might approach double digit goals. But that’s going to come at the cost of a month’s long slump.

Another guy with a bunch of the pieces to be really solid is Shane Prince. He feels like a guy who will have an up and down career based on his situation. If the coach trusts him with better linemates and ice time? Boom, 16 goals. The next year back down to seven. For this year – skate fast and steal a spot from someone. Parenteau? Bailey? Barzal? Can’t see much more.

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Jean-Francois Berube. Goalies have no limits. No barriers to upward or downward movement. Since neither of the guys ahead of Berube on the depth chart have any sustained history of holding down a starter’s job, what the hell? Maybe this guy can end the season as the starter. Remember, I’m not predicting the most likely outcome, just the best case scenario.

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