Time To Play Catch Up

Hey everyone, remember me? Yes, it has been almost a month since I've posted a blog. I got very busy with finals around the end of May. But I will also admit that I have been enjoying some time off to myself to relax a little after completing my first semester of Graduate school. For those interested, I got a 4.0.

It has been relatively quiet in Islander country lately; otherwise I would've jumped off my lazy ass and written something. Hamonic has been signed as well as Poulin and Ullstrom. These contracts were expected and weren't very noteworthy besides the fact that every fan can now get excited about Hamonic possibly joining the Islanders right out of camp - this is one blogger that say those odds are currently in his favor. However, the draft may have an effect on those odds.

I predict the Islanders to pick Erik Gudbranson, one of two potential draftees who have visited the Island this week. Cam Fowler being the other. If Fowler is available with the 5th overall pick (which I sincerely doubt) the Isles should grab him. But Gudbranson is no slouch. He weighs about 200 pounds and is 6’3. Plus he is only 18, so he still may continue to grow a bit. He possesses the tools to be that big stay-at-home defenseman that can knock anyone on their asses. Gudbranson, Hamonic and de Haan with Streit would be an exciting top-4 pairing to watch in the future. AMac and Hillen would round out the bottom two nicely.

But that will still leave a few holes to fill on offense. My wish list includes Eric Nystrom to center the fourth line, hopefully with Matt Martin and Trevor Gillies. Toughness served its purpose over the last quarter of the season and Snow took notice as he re-signed the man with the mustache right away. I believe there is a clause in his contract that states he is not allowed to shave it for fear of losing intimidation – just kidding.

Along with Bobby’s kid, my other hopeful is Alexander Frolov (to maybe play with Petrov this year or the year after). He’s not an elite forward, but he has the hands, speed and agility to open up the ice for his line mates. With Okposo, Tavares and Bailey continuing to get better, a young and exciting veteran like Frolov may fit with this team very well, and it may not be too hard to land him either.

Offense is needed on the blue-line as well. Streit is one heck of a defenseman but he can’t do it all by himself. Some veteran assistance is needed with AMac and Hillen still developing, Martinek bound to get hurt, and Gervais turning the puck over on a shift-by-shift basis. Plus Hamonic and de Haan have not yet earned their way into the line-up. My choice is Pavel Kubina. The Isles have targeted him in the past and he fills this team’s needs on the blue line: size, grit and production. He’s 6’4, 244 pounds and has averaged 40 points in his last three seasons. His slap shot comes off as a canon as well.

Goaltending can be an entire blog in itself so I will save that for another day. I have plenty of thoughts circulating Rick DiPietro, Dwayne Roloson, Mikko Koskinen, Kevin Poulin and next season’s back-up goalie. Hint hint, I don’t expect DP to be ready after training camp. This is just a hunch I am getting from him being incapable of finishing the 2010 season.

And last but not least, LET’S GO BLACKHAWKS! This has been an intense series with plenty of drama, bone-crushing hits and high-light reel plays. My prediction going into Game 5 was that whoever won last night would win the series. My prediction still stands, but I want the Hawks to win in Chicago. If Philly comes away with a win tomorrow, which I think they will, the Hawks will take Game 7.

And just for the record, I am not a front-runner. I have always liked the Hawks. They are an exciting team to watch and they have been building themselves the way that every team is supposed to; through the draft. I look at them and hope to see the Isles achieve the same success. Right now it’s a lot to ask for, but Snow has been following in their foot-steps. I’ve also used the Blackhawks in the EA Sports NHL series for about the past two years for the reasons I’ve stated above. Sad to say, I’m almost never the Islanders, but that might change going into next season.

In other news, I will be interviewing Kyle Okposo over the phone on Wednesday to talk about the World Championships, plans for the off-season, and outlook for next year. Hopefully that blog will be posted the same day or the day after over at www.thehockeywriters.com. So keep checking in!

-Rob McGowan

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