The Frightening Future Of The New York Islanders

The New York Islanders future has always been uncertain when it's come to whether or not they will remain in Nassau County when the lease expires in 2015. Christian Arnold of Islanders Hockey Blog wrote an excellent piece since he was able to attend a public meeting at the Nassau County Legislature as a group of developers met to discuss the possibility of developing the hub in 2015, with or without the New York Islanders. (Photo Credit: stayclassynet/Flickr)

The Republicans have done their part to thwart owner Charles Wangs' efforts to get a new arena and the Democrats have thrown road blocks of their own, putting the Islanders in a position where Vince Polimeni of ABLI (A Better Long Island) has the upper hand in developing that giant parking lot into a place that doesn't contain an NHL hockey team. And Polimeni isn't the only one that has come to this realization; other developers have been drawing up their own proposals (Read Arnold's blog for more in-depth coverage).

2015 may be three years away, but it will be here a lot quicker than most may realize, regardless of your position on the topic. But 2013 is a lot closer, and the future of the Islanders success may get worse. 

Currently the Isles are six points out of the playoffs for the first time in a long time. Fans can hold on to the hope of a late playoff berth and watch every game to the end knowing that two valuable points are on the line - not to lose for a top-five draft pick, but to win to keep climbing up the standings. My advice to fans is to not get your hopes up just yet. There is a lot of time between now and then and right now all the Islanders can afford to do is win. The odds may certainly stacked up against them, but right now it's time to enjoy some meaningful hockey for the first time in a long time.

...however there is a good chance that next year could be a major set back to the team's recent success. Remember, a winning hockey team draws in fans and in turn creates more revenue, thus helping Wang's desire to keep his club in Nassau County and out of Brooklyn, Queens or who else knows where.

The first cause for alarm is that the Islanders do not have a goalie signed for next season. Both Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya are set for unrestricted free agency and only one of them will likely remain in an Islanders uniform - and it's probably the latter. Nabby is set for a big pay raise and never wanted to be here in the first place. This is his time to prove to the league that he is still a competitor and one that can win with a marginal team in front of him. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)

Keeping Montoya wouldn't be a bad thing despite the fact that he's gone from opening night starter to a bench rider. Coach Capuano has no choice but to play the veteran in Nabokov with every game having so much value. But as of now, Montoya is not signed to be here next year and it remains uncertain of what GM Garth Snow wants to do with his two active goalies. So, like I said, the Isles do not have a starting goalie signed for the 2013 season. 

By the way, (for those of you keeping track), Rick DiPietro and Kevin Poulin don't count. One is always hurt or not playing up to par and the other has yet to establish himself in the NHL.

Things just continue to get scarier with the defense. 

Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic are all here next year, but right now you can count out Mark Eaton, Steve Staios, Mike Mottau and Milan Jurcina. Do any of them want to come back for another season? Better yet, do the Islanders WANT any of them back? Some have showed that they are only at best as a sixth or seventh defenseman while others have been down right bad. 

If Snow were to look within the system he will find plenty of young talent possibly ready to jump to the NHL, some of which who already have whether it be due to a call-up or on an emergency basis. This includes Dylan Reese, Calvin de Haan and Aaron Ness, who is still currently with the club and has shown good potential on the blue line. Throw in Matt Donovan, who has had an excellent season in Bridgeport and even Ty Wishart, who was a healthy scratch last night against the Winnipeg Jets. (Photo Credit: clyedorama/Flickr)

But take a look at that seven-man unit; that is one young and inexperienced defense that doesn't have much offensive fire power. And you don't have to scroll far up to see my reminder about how questionable the goaltending is going to be. 

The core on forward is locked up for the most part with a few missing pieces here and there, but there are problems looming for the future of the franchise from the blue line to the goal line that need to be addressed immediately. It's safe to say that Snow is going to have his work cut out for him this summer heading into the off-season. If he doesn't make the right moves and/or signings, he may see a significant set back in his slow and steady rebuild just as it was finally starting to make progress. 

I wonder how Vince Polimeni and any other developers feel about a sinking hockey team contributing to the future of a better Long Island...

-Rob McGowan


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4 Comments

Taylor Giffin's picture

I would suggest doing a semi re-build from the area that you say needs attention, from the goal line to the blue line. There are some playoff teams out there that are looking for a goalie, such as Chicago or Toronto, and they would be jumping all over Nabokov if he was made available. Most likely I am going to say Nabokov will be testing the waters this summer anyways, so why not get something for sure in return. I think it is time, even though GM Snow may not agree, to become sellers and see what they can obtain going into next year.

A.K. Bennett's picture

As a Red Wings fan, I am secretly hoping negotiations with Parenteau go south. I'd love to see the Wings sign him but I know he wants to stay with the Islanders and they don't want to lose his chemistry with Tavares.

Rob McGowan's picture

They do need to do that, Taylor. Signing a legitimate goaltender should be the team's top priority, but they might have to settle for Montoya. He's not a bad goalie and probably can be a starter, but I wouldn't be too confident with Poulin as the only guy to back him up. He's young and promising, but Montoya is not confident enough, nor has he had the chance to prove that he can handle number one playing time behind Nabokov this year.

One or two top four defenseman need to be found also and hopefully the Isles will keep PA. There are one or two holes on offense that need to be addressed, but in this case, defense first.

rmo214's picture

Remember Nabokov is a free agent after this season so chances are he would be traded before the deadline. This is why they keep on showcasing him. If he is not picked up by the deadline, he might be asked to stay, but he has been around for a long time, and his remaining playing seasons are short so I think he would want to have a legitimate chance of putting his name on the cup.
I think the biggest need for the Isles right now is a big, stay at home defenseman who can keep the opposing players out of the goalie area(the refs cant seem to stop players from running the goalies). A version of Ken Daneyko comes to mind. Someone that gives an opposing player a little fear when getting too close(last one they had,Chara?). Defense first.