The New York Islanders are coming off a season in which goaltending was a problem. They tried a three-goalie system and watched it fail. Heading into 2017-2018 goaltending should be a strength.
In the NHL it can be tough to find a starting goalie. Teams like the Dallas Stars, with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Jason Spezza, have offensive star power, but suffer from lackluster goaltending. The Islanders are in a rare position to have two starting caliber goalies on the roster.
The Islanders have Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak both under team control for next season. Both goalies have proven themselves capable starting goalies with the Isles, and also showed the ability to carry the team single-handedly from time to time.
Greiss and Halak have both played well with the Isles and should be a strength for the team next season.
The Issue Last Season
Halak was clearly not comfortable with the goaltending situation last season – nor was his agent Allan Walsh – and his play suffered. Halak underperformed to the point where he was sent down to the Islander’s AHL affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Greiss was given the reigns after Halak’s demotion at the end of the 2016 calendar year and played well. Greiss was crucial in the Islanders second half surge that saw them fall just one point short of a playoff birth.
Unfortunately, the New York Islanders had to rely on Greiss far too often down the stretch and he wore down. Halak was eventually recalled from Bridgeport and helped the Islanders finish their season on a six-game winning streak.
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Halak deserves credit for handling his demotion as a professional. He went down and played hard before deserving his recall back to the big club. Looking ahead the Islanders should use Greiss and Halak as a 1A and 1B type goalie tandem.
Competition can bring out the best in players, and this could be a way to see both goalies at the top of their game. Most importantly it will allow Greiss and Halak to stay fresh. While playing at the top of their game both goalies have played at an all-star caliber. Remember Halak’s all-star nod in 2015.
The Islanders gave Greiss a contract extension in the middle of last season and I would expect him to go into the season as the starter. Barring injury, I would look for Greiss to play around 45 games and Halak to play 37.
Heading into 2017-2018 goaltending should be a strength for the New York Islanders. The goaltending should be able to steal games when needed, and dare I say compete for a William M. Jennings Trophy.