Friday night the Islanders welcomed back Kyle Okposo. It was the third and final welcome back party for the Isles core that departed in free agency last summer.
This past offseason the Islanders had some decisions to make. Fan favorites, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, and Matt Martin were all free agents. As we now know all three are donning different sweaters this year.
The Islanders lost more than a few players; they lost some of their core. Last year if you asked fans what four players made up the Islanders core you’d almost certainly get John Tavares, Nielsen, Okposo and a fourth could be interchanged between Martin, Travis Hamonic, and Cal Clutterbuck.
Now almost four months into the season if you ask the same question you’ll still get Tavares, but who follows? You’d have to throw in Hamonic, and then Josh Bailey? Cal Clutterbuck? Can you throw Ryan Strome in there?
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Building Towards Nothing
The last couple of years the Islanders seemed to be building towards something great. They put together back to back 100-point seasons and managed to get past round one of the playoffs.
Now it feels as though those seasons were simply a tease. The Isles are back in an all too familiar place; the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Hindsight is 20/20 but it would have been hard to say the Islanders had a good offseason.
This is not to say if the Isles were able to stay intact that they would be fighting for a President’s Trophy, but I think, and you might too, that they just might be in a better position today.
The past two seasons the Isles finished with 101 and 100 points. If they kept their core together you’d have to think they would end up somewhere around there. Certainly not the 32 points after 33 games they currently have.
A third straight 100 point season may not have been in the cards, but who knows. Instead, our big free agent acquisitions were an aging Andrew Ladd and 37-year-old Jason Chimera. Certainly not no-name players. But their output hasn’t matched their reputation, let alone their payroll.
Garth Snow should have tried to build off their first playoff series win in 23 years, and yet we saw the core of that group walk. Now the Isles sit in the bottom of the Eastern Conference and fans are left to imagine what could have been.