New York Islanders: Summer History Predicts Future


New York Islanders GM Garth Snow has had a decade to show us some patterns that might indicate what else he might do before opening night.

Ten Years of New York Islanders summer rebuilding projects is quite a legacy for a GM. And like every person, at every job, General Managers have certain repeatable and predictable behaviors.     We’re going to try and uncover some of Garth Snow’s.

First, just because something happened once, doesn’t make it a pattern. For instance, if you say, “Garth often acquires two top pair defensemen on the eve of training camp”, that would not be a pattern. That only happened once.

However, if you said, “When Garth thinks his defense is not up to snuff, he is unafraid to make multiple acquisitions in the weeks before breaking camp.” Because he also picked up three defensemen on waivers in the same week (Hickey, Strait, Finley) once, this constitutes a pattern. Got it?

You know what?  He also once had a whole draft of only defensemen. The guy is not afraid to shop in bulk.

Fixing a Need

But it doesn’t look like the need for a truckload of defensemen exists this year.  However, I do think the team is weakest at right wing.  Has anyone else noticed that since selecting Nino Niederreiter in 2010, Garth has only drafted ONE right wing, and that’s Ho Sang. That is almost seven complete drafts with only a single right wing selected. So the pipeline is not spewing guys out.

Assuming Grabovski is still on IR in mid-October, and Strome is back home at center, the current roster really only has Parenteau and Clutterbuck as natural right wings.

I wouldn’t be surprised, based on his history, if Garth Snow invites a few PTO righties into camp. But with Hudler and Vrbata off the market, I can’t imagine who that might be. You know, Yakupov, although left-handed, plays almost exclusively on the right.

I guess Rick Nash plays on the right side sometimes as well. But despite Jyri Niemi and Thomas Pock, I don’t see a pattern of substantive transactions between the teams.

Aging Acquisitions and Junior Games

There’s been another Garth pattern. He likes to acquire one aging depth defenseman each year who is a little short on vowel sounds.  Martinek…Wisniewski… Visnovsky… Jurcina…Zidlicky.

Kris Russell is way too western-sounding to satisfy the pattern. Probably also too good to qualify as depth.  Same for Kyle Quincey. I think Dennis Seidenberg might be the guy this year.

The actual name is quite a bit softer on the tongue, but that is no reason he couldn’t provide quality veteran presence in the number 7 or 8 defender role combined with the European flavor Snow craves in that spot.

One other pattern over the past few training camps is to pick one junior age prospect, let slip that he is on the verge of earning a roster spot, and then send him down. Maybe this is done to put pressure on veterans, or perhaps even other rookies. Because it usually isn’t the fellow we think is next in line.

Last year it was Barzal and not Dal Colle. In 2014 in was Dal Colle and not Pulock. In 2013 it was Pulock and not Reinhart.  This year, when we all expect Barzal to be the guy fighting for a spot, Garth will praise someone else. Maybe Ho-Sang? That would shake things up.  Beauvillier? That would knock Barzal down a peg? I’m going with Mitch Vande Sompel.

Next: New York Islanders Playing Off-Season Hockey

I am not a Scientologist, and I doubt anyone in Islander management is either. But L.Ron Hubbard once said that “The best predictor of future events, is past events”. Let’s take L.Ron at his word (on this) and expect that Garth Snow will stay true to some of his patterns.

Someone remind me to revisit this topic in Mid October. It could be quite interesting.