In continuing our preview of the Metropolitan Division, we stick within the Tri-State Area, learning more about the Islanders with Dan Saraceni of Lighthouse Hockey.
1. The Islanders lost Okposo, Nielsen, and Martin, but gained Ladd, Chimera, and Parenteau. Are the Isles better now than they were at the end of last season?
Seems like you've done some research around Islanders blogs because this is the central question for their entire offseason. (Editor’s note: I haven’t, it’s just been my question too.) And I have no answer for it.
Ladd is a couple of years older than Okposo and a couple of years younger than Nielsen. He can kill penalties like Nielsen, but will be expected to play with John Tavares in Okposo's old spot. Chimera is faster and has better hands than Martin but is, like, ten (10)(Wow) years older. Parenteau had chemistry with Tavares five years ago and will be expected to pick up where he left off, which might not be easy.
We won't really know if they're better until well into next season when the new guys have been fully integrated. Either it'll be too late and they'll be definitively worse or they'll be about the same or the new guys will have unlocked something in the remaining 85% of the roster that the other guys didn't and they end up indeed being better. We'll have to wait and see.
2. Shane Prince may be the most annoying traded player for Sens fans in recent history. The people that loved him are annoyed the team traded him for so little, and the people that weren't impressed are annoyed that people keep bringing him up. What do you expect from a full season of Prince in Brooklyn?
I hate to resort to cliche but Prince "didn't look out of place" in his short time with the Islanders, although he didn't actually score much, either. Maybe the new environment and full summer will help him, but he's not exactly guaranteed a role or even roster spot as of now. The Islanders have more forwards than they know what to do with.
I think 20 goals would be the absolute best-case-scenario maximum, but that would require a few things to break his way. Therefore, I expect less than that.
3. Do the Isles have a goalie controversy? What do you imagine will happen this season as regards to the goalie situation?
I prefer to call it a "conundrum" rather than a controversy. It's been a very, very long time since the Islanders had two legit goalies and how they proceed is going to be enormously important.
Thomas Greiss was signed for back-up money and turned in a starter's performance. Jean-Francois Berube was picked up off waivers and the team is apparently extraordinarily high on him despite his pretty light resume. Meanwhile Jaroslav Halak, the nominal starter who was vocally displeased with the three-man split, is making more than the other two combined and Arthur Staple of Newsday said the team might be questioning his conditioning. Oh, and Halak had sports hernia surgery this summer but should be okay to play for Team Europe at the World Cup alongside the team's other goalie, Thomas Greiss.
So, yeah, a conundrum. I have no idea how it'll shake out, but it sounds like no one wants a three goalie set-up anymore so someone will be out. Berube could be lost on waivers and Greiss just backstopped the team to their first playoff win in 23 years, so it will probably be Halak. But a team willing to trade for him will have to present itself first.