There are still a number of marquee players available to be had, but the New York Islanders are nowhere near competing for their services. How long until that changes? With success, not long.
How long will it take until the New York Islanders can become a destination for players? The Islanders keep missing out on big-name free agents or even big-name players available via trade because players don’t want to come here.
The Islanders even lost a free agent that they had for the last nine years because another market was more desirable.
During free agency the Islanders lost John Tavares to the Maple Leafs, Ryan O’Reilly was traded to the St. Louis Blues, Artemi Panarin has been rumored to be not entirely happy in Columbus, and the biggest fish of them all, Erik Karlsson is still seemingly available.
Aside from John Tavares, the New York Islanders aren’t anywhere near landing any. And even when it comes to Tavares it’s debatable how close the Islanders actually were to keeping him. How long till that changes?
To be a destination a team has to be in contention. They’ve got to have a winning mentality and a winning culture. Even in the years where the Islanders had back-to-back 100 point seasons no one took them seriously.
The Isles might have been “close” to contending three to four years ago, but you wouldn’t attribute them with a winning mentality or a winning culture. It’s the entire reason that Lou Lamoriello removed Garth Snow and Doug Weight, and most of Weight’s coaching staff in the offseason.
The Islanders are addressing the culture, which in turn is affecting the mentality around the franchise. The Islanders are finally behaving like a normal NHL franchise and are gaining respect around the league. They now have to turn that into contention. That’s not going to happen overnight.
This year is clearly a “let’s see what we got” season. Islanders management doesn’t know exactly how close (or far) they actually are to contention.
But in three years time, the Islanders are going to look much different with a ton of talented and exciting youth in the lineup.
Kieffer Bellows and Josh Ho-Sang should already be two to three years into their NHL careers. Oliver Wahlstrom should already be into his sophomore NHL season and Noah Dobson should be making his debut on the blueline. Linus Soderstrom should be a seasoned NHL starter, or Ilya Sorokin should be on the way.
With the quality already in the lineup, three years from now the Islanders should easily be part of the top tier of their division. That’s when the appeal of a brand new arena, a new practice facility, top-tier management and coaching, and owners that will pay start to attract top-tier talent.
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Depending on how well the New York Islanders do this year that timetable could be accelerated. But for now, it’s reasonable to believe that it might take three years before the Islanders can start attracting big names around the league.