Thinking about some of the players that never got a fair chance with the New York Islanders, what would an all-time second chance starting lineup look like?
With no New York Islanders hockey for nearly two months now, our minds are wandering and thinking about all kinds of possibilities. What-ifs are all the rage as we sit around stuck with our own thoughts. With that much time to think we’re all thinking of alternate realities and what could have been.
Here’s another what-if to add to the mix.
What if the New York Islanders gave everyone a fair shot to succeed? Think about some of the players who never got a fair shot or those who were given up on way too early. What if those players got a second chance with the organization?
Left-wing – Nino Niederreiter
The Islanders never gave Nino Niederreiter a chance. Drafted fifth overall in 2010, Niederreiter had serious offensive potential, but the Islanders decided he needed to learn how to play defense by playing with Jay Pandolfo and Marty Reasoner. The trio combined for ten points over a full season in 2011-12.
In the shortened 2012-13 season, Niederreiter wasn’t even invited to the Islanders training camp, despite putting up 36 points in 39 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He’d be traded to Minnesota for Cal Clutterbuck and a 2013 third-round pick before the 2013-14 season.
Niederreiter would score 20 goals on three separate occasions and would hit 50+ points twice so far in his career after leaving the Islanders.
Center – Olli Jokinen
Olli Jokinen came to the Islanders in the Ziggy Palffy trade with the Los Angeles Kings. The Islanders kept him for 82 games before dealing him to the Florida Panthers in the Roberto Luongo trade (more on him later).
It was a slow process for Jokinen to become his true self, but by his age 24 season, Jokinen had 36 goals and 65 points. From the 02-03 season to the 07-08 season, Jokinen scored 173 goals and 374 points in 409 games.
To put that into perspective, Jokinen ranked as the 14th most productive player in the NHL in that period. The most productive Islanders player in that time was Jason Blake with 115 goals and 228 points.
Right-wing – J.P. Dumont
J.P. Dumont was drafted third overall by the Islanders in 1996 NHL Draft. Due to a contract dispute between Dumont and the Islanders, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1998.
Over a 12 year NHL career, Dumont would score 523 points in 822 games including three 60+ point seasons between 2006-07 and 2008-09. His best season was in 2007-08 when he scored 29 goals and 72 points.
Left D – Zdeno Chara
What could have been with Zdeno Chara? He’s certainly going to find his way to the Hockey Hall of Fame when he eventually hangs up his skates.
Before being traded in the Alexei Yashin trade, Chara participated in 231 games for the Islanders and scored 29 points. Away from the Islanders, his career took off. He’s since played 1,322 games and scored 627 points.
Chara has won the Norris Trophy once and finished in the top five for the best defenseman award an incredible eight times. He also has a Stanley Cup ring from Boston’s championship in 2011.
Right D – Jared Spurgeon
Jared Spurgeon never played a game for the Islanders because they just didn’t sign him to a contract. After drafting the 5’9″ defenseman 156th overall in 2008, the Islanders just didn’t sign him.
The Minnesota Wild brought him during the 2011-12 training camp and was given a contract after impressing. He’s since played 653 games for the Wild and has become a great puck-moving blue-liner with great offensive upside.
Roberto Luongo played 24 games for the Islanders before they decided to ship him to Florida and run with Rick DiPietro between the pipes. Over a 19 year NHL career, Luongo would hold a 489-392-124 record with 77 shutouts and average a 2.52GAA and 0.919SV%.
Luongo never won a Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the league but he did finish in the top four on five occasions. Just like Chara, Luongo is likely going to find his way to the Hockey Hall of Fame one day.