IPB Mailbag: On Defense, Prospects and Ryan Miller

You asked us questions last week, this week we answer.


Dom Longo
Do u think the Isles stick with the current goalie tandem throughout the season? Or do u think they trade for one (Miller) or call one up? (Nilsson) Thx

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Right now goaltending is an interesting question. Nabokov had an extremely shaky performance on Tuesday night and it sounded like after the game Capuano was more open to play Poulin. But I don’t think that means that the tandem will really change. Nilsson may get called up if he’s performing really well and Poulin isn’t, but I don’t see the Islanders trading for a goaltender.

Kevin Schultz

I’d agree with what Christian said and would further say that trading for Ryan Miller doesn’t make sense, unless you know you’re re-signing him. He’s a pending UFA, so it would be self-defeating to pay for him in trade with the risk of losing him a few months from now. Backing up the Brinks truck in the off-season is likely the smartest move.


John from Massapequa

Why does Capuano continue to let PMB take Brock Nelson’s line up spot? And then put him on our power play? Is he getting us to the cap floor and that’s the reason because aside from that I don’t see it.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

 John, I think Capuano is giving the free agent signings every chance to prove themselves, though from Nelson’s play it’s hard to say that he shouldn’t be in the lineup. But that’s not to say Pierre-Marc Bouchard has played terrible either. And the Isles are over the cap, so playing PMB is not in anyway a cap move.

Kevin Schultz

Bouchard had a rough start to the year and deservedly took criticism for that. But it makes no sense to throw a guy off the team after three games. Lately, PMB is turning it around with three points in four games and is second on the team in possession.


Derek in London, UK

How many games do you think the Isles will play in NVMC per season after they move to Brooklyn? Is there a chance we could see a significant number of games played at NVMC after a renovation?

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

 The Isles will play six games at a renovated Nassau Coliseum. No more than that from what everyone involved has been saying. Unless the team moves back to Long Island, which I DON’T see happening, then they will only play six games there.


jon from nj

At what point does the organization either 1) promote De Haan to take the place of Hickey/Strait 2) Promote Strome to take the place of Regin/Bouchard 3) Trade some of these chips for an established d-man or goalie?

Something has to give, because this defense is horrendous.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

 De Haan is coming off an injury last season and it seems they’re giving him time to develop in the AHL. With Strome it is the same sort of thing, minus the injury, but the Islanders aren’t trying to rush anyone up into the NHL. I still don’t think De Haan is ready just yet, but Strome will be the first called up if/when things don’t work out with Regin or Bouchard.

As for a trade of some sorts, I still don’t see one coming yet. Garth Snow and the rest of the Isles organization is confident in the prospects and pieces they have in place.

Kevin Schultz

Unfortunately, the D and goalie issues are ones that could have been solved in the off-season and weren’t. That said, the D will get better with prospects in the pipeline but that will still take another year or two. All the guys from the 2012 draft still need some time.


Ray Cifelli

I feel like the isles organization thinks that they are “almost there” after last season. I think they have a good while of development yet to do and as a HUGE fan it is so frustrating seeing 18 and 19 year olds all over the league excelling and we are not playing our youngsters. (sorry) my question is, why are we not playing our young studs?

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

As I said earlier, I think the team is worried about rushing their young players. They don’t want to make the same mistake they made with Josh Bailey, but Brock Nelson and Matt Donovan are both guys who have proven they’re ready for the NHL. They’re getting their chance, and it’s only a matter of time before Ryan Strome is called up from Bridgeport. Management is playing it safe at the moment.


Carl from Canada

How long of a leash does Capuano have this season? & does Ratner have any say in the decision making with Wang. i.e team decisions? As the new landlord you would have to think that you would want the owner to bring a premium product to his arena.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

I don’t think Capuano really has a leash. Barring some terrible losing streak, his job is safe. As of right now, Ratner has no say in hockey operations. However, considering all the news that has come out about the deal to bring the Islanders to Brooklyn, it’s hard to imagine that Ratner and Barclays Center brass won’t have some say… At the very least you know they’ll want to see some improvements and money invested into the on ice product.

Kevin Schultz

Ratner & Co. don’t have a say in hockey operations, but with the Barclays taking the brunt of the risk for fluctuations in revenues, that should make them heavily invested in the success of the team. They seem like a very smart bunch and my guess is they have that figured out.


Rob

Why does Garth Snow refuse to address the 1st line RW for Tavares and lack of a top 4 defenseman? The team is $14 million under the cap. We need a legit top line RW and top 4 dman. This team will not make the playoffs unless Garth addressees these issues!

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

 I agree, defense especially at the moment. The Islanders defense has not been what it has needed to be and during the offseason that was something that needed to be addressed. However I don’t think it is because Snow won’t address those issues, it is that he has faith in the guys he has there.

Kevin Schultz

I think Trots said it best; imagine Mike Bossy on Tavares’ wing. This needs to be addressed before it’s too late.


@JimmyShnoogen

If the Islanders were to look to make an in-season trade, which would take priority: A high caliber goal-scorer or a young, reliable goaltender with potential, that will be able to step in for Nabokov if/when he gets burnt out later in the year?

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

My pick would be neither. I’d say the priority would be defense. That has been the Islanders biggest weakness so far. Yes I know Nabokov has had some rough games, especially his last one, but his defense has not given him much help at times. And there are certain defensive guys on the roster that have not played as well as they should be or need to be.

Kevin Schultz

Have I mentioned lately I’m concerned about the goaltending? No, because Nabokov had a nice start to the season. Tuesday night was the first real bad game that Nabokov had and the team’s offense kept them in it. Kevin Poulin should get a chance, Nabokov is not the long-term solution and the nice start is likely an illusion. This is a situation that needs fixing and a Bernier or a Schneider would be nice right about now but those ships have sailed.


Steve Hamerman

Blown 3rd period leads have always seemed to haunt the Isles for as long as I’ve been watching them. How and when can they eliminate this problem and take the next step to closing teams out? And not leaving possible points to make the playoffs behind.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

It’s all a part of that maturation process. The Islanders are still a young team and that will come with time where they fully close out teams. They’ve shown in the past that they can do it, but now it’s doing it on a consistent basis. As guys continue to mature in their game, it will become easier to do.

Kevin Schultz

The blown leads are frustrating, but if they can fix that they could be golden. They’ve been in every single game this year. If they can fix this issue, or the goaltending, or the defense, they should have no problem making the playoffs in what appears to be a very, very soft Metro Division.


Tom
I feel that Strait should be benched or waived and Is there a player that is NHL ready to step in and take over his position from Bridgeport.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Aaron Ness or Calvin de Haan may be the best options as far as prospects ready to make the jump. And out of those two, I’d say give Ness the shot. I’m sure I’m in the minority on that opinion, but I still think de Haan could use some more time in the AHL.

Kevin Schultz

There’s not much of an answer right now in Bridgeport. I’ve been trying to watch most of their games and De Haan doesn’t seem ready, or at least needs to shake off rust (remember Okposo for the first year after his injury?). I don’t know that Ness’ ceiling is particularly high. The best defensive prospects in the system appear to be Andrey Pedan, Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock. The latter two we definitely won’t see this year and Pedan still needs more time, too. There’s a lot of defense in the system, but most of it is still a year or more away.


Davey
The Isles seem to play better with Carkner in the line-up, with Strait struggling so much why not try Donovan & Carkner as the 3rd pair?

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Davey, you’re one of the few fans I’ve ever heard say the team plays better WITH Carkner in the lineup. Considering the Islanders struggles on defense I’d be willing to try the combination, but Carkner hasn’t necessarily been great defensively either.  I would be more inclined to bench Carkner than Strait. I think Carkner has struggled more than Strait so far this season.