Editorials

New York Islanders Need To Call Up Gibson, Bench Halak

By Tim Ryder
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 21: Jaroslav Halak
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 21: Jaroslav Halak /
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After, to put it lightly, inconsistent goaltending all season, the New York Islanders have come to a crossroads. It’s time to make a change in the Isles goaltending department. A viable trade may be tough to find, so this problem may need to be solved in-house.

Since making Jaroslav Halak the de facto starting netminder seven games ago, the New York Islanders have allowed four or more goals five times. Halak was pulled from Sunday’s game in Colorado after allowing five goals in just over two periods.

In his first game action in more than ten days, Thomas Greiss was brought in to relieve Halak. While allowing just one goal, Greiss was far from impressive. Personally, I thought this would be the start of a week of seeing Greiss in net if only to give Halak a much-needed break.

In a slightly shocking move, Doug Weight decided to give Jaro the start last night at home versus the Bruins. Jaro symbolically thanked his head coach for the vote of confidence by giving up four goals, yet again.

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What’s the New York Islanders next move?

It’s become obvious that the Islanders can’t keep pace in the East with their current goaltending situation. It’s also become pretty clear Thomas Greiss is not the answer to the Isles problems either. Barring an unlikely trade for a front-line netminder, the New York Islanders will likely need to address this issue in-house.

Now entering the ring, coming from Bridgeport, CT by way of Karkkila, Finland, the New York Islanders new starting goaltender…Christopher Gibson! I know it’s not the most exciting sentence you’ve ever heard, but it could be just what the Islanders need to wake up their dormant goaltending unit.

Christopher Gibson has performed well in his two-plus seasons at Bridgeport. He currently sports a 12-6 record with a 2.46 goals against average and a .904 save percentage. While these stats don’t exactly jump off the page, a goalie with confidence would be a nice change for the Islanders and their fans alike.

Can the New York Islanders survive with Gibson in net?

If the situation works itself out in the right way for the New York Islanders, they may not have to rely solely on Gibson to lead the way. Calling up Gibson to start, relegating Jaroslav Halak to the bench, and making Thomas Greiss the third-string goalie could, in theory, set off an effective chain of events for the Islanders.

Halak would no doubt be upset by his benching, as would Greiss (likely even more-so) after being demoted to the ballcap-wearing position of emergency goaltender. If that doesn’t light a fire underneath one of them to improve their play, I honestly don’t know what will.

If that plan fails, the Islanders will need to take a serious look at their goaltending needs either via trade before the deadline or in free agency this coming offseason.

Looking past 2017-18

The New York Islanders could have a stopgap solution through the end of this season if Christopher Gibson can make his transition to the NHL a seamless one. That’s assuming Halak and/or Greiss can improve enough to capably assume backup duties, of course.

Looking past this season and into the future, Gibson could serve a much more important purpose than simply bridging the gap to 2018-19. If the Islanders go out and sign a free agent netminder this offseason, that’s taking already-limited funds away from the other problem areas that the Isles desperately need to upgrade.

Next: Isles Three Best Performances of 2017

If Christopher Gibson can perform at a high level right from the start, it could provide the spark the New York Islanders so desperately need right now. If Gibson can show he belongs, the Isles may not need to make any other moves at netminder for the foreseeable future. That is until Ilya Sorokin gets here, of course.

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