Questions still remain with Islanders’ defense

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders defensemen will have the largest magnifying glass on them when training camp opens in September.

Relatively unchanged, Isles Head Coach Jack Capuano will rely on a young defensive core in 2014-15. Travis Hamonic and Lubomir Visnovsky will likely lead the Isles blue line this season, with Calvin de Haan continuing to have a prominent role. Also throw into the mix Griffin Reinhart, who is expected to make the roster out of training camp, and Thomas Hickey, who was a solid defender last season for the Islanders.

Andrew MacDonald, Evgeni Nabokov, Martin Hanzal, Brian StraitThe Isles will also have a healthy Brian Strait back for the upcoming season. He appeared in only 47 games last season due to injury.

As many pundits have pointed out, the Islanders blue line has gotten better by default with the departure of Andrew MacDonald. The 27-year-old defenseman struggled massively after Capuano overused him. MacDonald was a shot blocker, but his possession numbers were terrible and he finished the regular season a minus-22.

But how much better the Isles defense has gotten is still up for debate.

For one, the Islanders will have to hope that the injury bug doesn’t strike too often this season. Visnovsky will return to camp healthy after missing all but 24 games last season due to injury, but there is concern over how susceptible he will be to injuries next year and what happens if he has to miss time due to one. They would also have to hope that injury does not strike their other top defenseman, Hamonic.

General Manager Garth Snow could not persuade Dan Boyle to sign, so the Isles still could use another top-4 defenseman. The Islanders certainly have the pieces to execute a deal, but it is unclear if or when such will take place.

For now, the Islanders will rely on the defenseman they have. That’s not to say it is the worst predicament in the world, but it could make things tougher on the Islanders’ plans to make it back into the postseason.

Photo: Nassau Coliseum in NHL 15


Wang wants to move Barroway suit to Nassau County

Charles Wang wants to move Andrew Barroway’s lawsuit from Manhattan to Nassau County (Baumbach, Aug. 27).

Wang was hit with a $10 million lawsuit for backing out of a handshake agreement to sell the team to Barroway (NYDN, August 11).

Barroway claims that Wang agreed to sell the Islanders for $420 million, but backed out after the Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2 billion. Barroway claims that Wang tried to up the sale price to $548 million.

Wang recently agreed to a deal to sell a majority interest in the Islanders, the team said (IPB, Aug. 19).

The deal is to sell the team to Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, who will be minority owners for two years, after which they will assume majority control over the organization, the Islanders announced.

More from Baumbach: To read more of this story, click here

Nelson deserves a shot on Isles’ top line


Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Going into the 2014-15 season, the Islanders are once again in a position to have to find someone to play the wing on the top line.

It seems that the predicament of having to find a player to fill that role has become a new tradition with the team. The Islanders have options going into training camp, but team management seems likely to give breakout rookie Brock Nelson a shot at the job.

And the 22-year-old deserves the opportunity.

Nelson had a very good 2013-14 season. The former first-round draft pick made the team out of training camp over Ryan Strome, which some fans did not agree with. However, Nelson proved the doubters wrong by recording 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) in 72 games.

The rookie even earned time on the top line playing on the wing after Thomas Vanek was injured shortly after arriving on Long Island. Nelson re-emerged on the Isles’ top line as a center after John Tavares’ season ended early due to an injury suffered during the Olympics.

The Minnesota native preformed admirable during those stints on the top line and his teammates took notice. Tavares and Kyle Okposo both praised him during the team’s breakup day in April. Okposo even went as far to say that Nelson reminded him of Patrice Bergeron.

Having already played, and performed well, on the Islanders’ top line should be all that Jack Capuano needs to at least start Nelson there going into camp. His 2013-14 stats and the praise from his teammates only bolster his case.

Nelson has proven he is a smart hockey player, who uses his size to his advantage. He knows how to make plays happen and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Nelson’s goal production wouldn’t benefit from playing with Tavares.

To read more of this story, click here

Shannon Hogan named new host and reporter for Isles’ broadcasts

010-Tigers-Shannon-HogaMSG Networks has hired Shannon Hogan to take over as anchor and reporter for the Islander broadcasts this season.

The announcement doesn’t come as a surprise, since word leaked on Twitter that Hogan would take over the job earlier this month. She replaces Peter Ruttgaizer, who held the position for the previous three seasons.

Hogan joins the Islanders telecast after four years at Fox Sports Detroit, where she covered the area’s three major professional sports teams and college sports. She has also covered the 2010 US Open, 2010 World Series and the 2014 Winter Classic. Hogan was also the recipient of a Michigan Emmy Award in June for her work at Fox Sport Detroit.

“We are excited to welcome Shannon Hogan to the MSG family,” Daniel Ronayne, executive vice president and general manager of MSG Networks, said in a press release. “Islanders fans will appreciate Shannon’s enthusiasm, charisma, and love of hockey for the team’s final season at Nassau Coliseum.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the MSG family at such an exciting time for the network and the Islanders,” said Shannon Hogan. “It will be fantastic working with a franchise rich in tradition and a young team on the rise. During my four years with Fox Sports Detroit, I had the pleasure of working with some of the best managers, coaches, players and analysts in the business. My experience with the Islanders and MSG will add many more people to that list. Interacting with Detroit’s passionate fans was a pleasure and I’m looking forward to a great relationship with the Islanders fans. I can’t wait for my adventure in New York to begin!”

Oh Yeah…2004: Rangers/Islanders Brawling

The Rangers-Islanders rivalry hit a flashpoint in 2004, when multiple games ended in bench-clearing brawls.

Oh Yeah… takes viewers on a trip down memory lane by re-visiting the most entertaining, offbeat, and perhaps forgotten local sports topics over the past 40 years with each episode devoted to a specific year. New episodes air Sundays at 10 p.m. on SNY.

Caps owner congratulates Ledecky & Malkin on purchase of Isles

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin will become the new owners of the New York Islanders. First, as minority stake holders, and then take full control of the franchise in two years.

The announcement of the deal prompted Washington Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis to congratulate Ledecky, who was co-owner of the Caps from 1999 to 2001, on his blog.

Jon, forever now to be known as Katie Ledecky’s uncle, was a terrific and enthusiastic co owner of the Capitals, back in the day. He and his partner will bring passion, energy and commitment to community to Charles Wang and the Islanders, when this deal is approved.

Ledecky held a minority share of the Capitals for three years before selling it to Leonsis in 2001.