Isles Twitter was alive today.
With the news of the Islanders roster cuts, especially sending Kiefer Bellows and Josh Ho Sang to Bridgeport and the contract offer to Lucas Sbisa, the boo birds were out in force, Seems like most Isles fans look at the current roster, and have given up on this season being successful.
They may be right.
They may be completely wrong.
Truth is, none of us have any idea how this team is going to perform this season, for one very simple reason. Most of the players on this roster have not had any discernible defensive system in place for the last one and a half seasons. That will change this season. I suspect that many fans watched the team lose their captain, bring in a bunch of “grinders”, and assume that this will be a much worse team than last season, and when you look at it on paper, it’s hard to argue with that.
On the ice, however, we don’t know how the pieces fit into the defensive scheme that Barry Trotz is going to install, and neither does Isles management. When they talk about needing to see some of these veteran players and evaluate them, that’s what they are talking about. Can they fit what Trotz is trying to do defensively. We don’t actually know that. I suspect that’s why you see so many bottom six forwards on contract, they don’t know which ones are going to really work out. I also suspect that is why many of them are on one year deals.
Here is what I do know.
- 1. The Islanders will be tougher to play against. It’s impossible that they wouldn’t be, honestly.
- 2. The renewed focus on a defensive system will probably mean most forwards take a step back in their offensive numbers. the team may actually struggle to score.
- 3. A few of the guys on the opening day roster, will be injured by Thanksgiving.
- 4. Fans will complain about the new forwards, forgetting that the ones they replaced aren’t even in the NHL any more. (You may not love Komarov, Fillipula, etc. but how quickly we forget the number of games played by Quine/Prince/Wagner/Chimera.)
- 5. There are 8 players on this team who will be UFAs at the end of the year, and the Islanders have no 3rd or 4th round draft picks. If the Isles start out slowly, and it becomes clear that this team is not ready to compete, I suspect both of those things to change.
- 6. It’s anyone’s guess how good the goaltending is going to be. Seriously, no one has any idea.
Here’s what I think:
- We’re not at Oct 4 yet. Or even into the season. Lou and Barry may not be done shaping this roster at all. Moves may still be on the horizon.
- This team will be physical and compete every night.
- This team will not give up goals and shots in buckets like last year.
- They will also not score as much.
- They may very well no longer lose 6-4 games, but they’re going to lose a lot of 3-2 games.
- This isn’t a playoff team, but it may stay closer than they did last year to the playoff chase, if only because we won’t be watching a team that can’t stop anyone. They will steal some wins they didn’t get last season.
I hope I’m wrong about that, but I just don’t see it with the current roster, even if you add in some talented young players as the season progresses.
Of course, things can change.