The New York Islanders may indeed be doing things on purpose, with a purpose. Even if it looks like utter chaos sometimes.
I have a theory about the New York Islanders and the series of moves lately that seem to be baffling the fans of the team. It is all about speed.
Let us first examine who has left the team since they played against Tampa Bay last spring. Matt Martin has many atrributes that fans and coaches love on the fourth line. but skating wasn’t one of them. Brian Strait had a hard time making quick turns and pivots. Not a great skater. Kyle Okposo had about average speed, but didn’t always stay upright enough to use it.
You may say to me, “But what about Frans? He’s a terrific skater” Yep. And who was the one guy of that bunch they actually tried to keep? Maybe they looked at the way both the Panthers and the Lightning rushed passed them in the playoffs and decided the rosters did not skate well enough?
Maybe the Islanders looked at that Pittsburgh team, with a flawed defense, a rookie goalie, and no depth upfront and decided that speed made the difference in winning a Stanley Cup.
So who did they bring in to replace the cement shoe mafia? Andrew Ladd. Not a burner, but a speedier wing than Okposo. Seidenberg? Not anywhere a Nick Leddy. But he moves better than Strait. Chimera is a guy they added that can really turn on the jets.
You may say to me, “But what about Parenteau?” I’ll assume that he was a cheap afterthought by the Islanders when there no other right handed options, and Versteeg apparently turned them down. At least according to Elliot Friedman. The fact they first chased an equally marginal, but faster skating player, in Versteeg supports my point.
And that they dropped him so quickly, despite him playing a position of dire need, despite him having a history of chemistry with Tavares, despite the fact he hadn’t played a regular season game since the signing, indicates to me that speed is of the essence.
The rookies that seem to have made the team, what is their common denominator? Barzal and Beauvillier skate extremely well. The guy who is first call up on wing, Ho-Sang, probably skates better than either of them. The one forward who they say disappointed… Dal Colle. Much slower than the others.
In losing Okposo, Martin, Parenteau (and Nielsen), and replacing them with Chimera, Barzal, Ho-Sang, Beauvillier, and Ladd, I think the motive is clear. And it was backed up when the rationalization for sending down Pulock was his weak breakouts. That means the focus is on quick. This year’s Islanders are going to try and outset each and every opponent.