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.




264 comments
david macdonald
david macdonald

Also, practicing against our own offense (which should be much better than in past years) will help this group of d-men grow and improve every year....God I hope so!

david macdonald
david macdonald

Why are you people talking about nino??? I'm interested in seeing Brennan on the blue line. If the Leafs are pissed that he didn't stay, he must have talent. I think he'll be one of our top 4 players on D.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@dkdk.. i just read your NINO and Ullstrom post. Have to write, it is pretty awful factually. And i am not an Ullstrom fan. 


 but lets begin..


The Isles didn't extend a camp invite to Ulstrom to " bribe him here" as you claim


Nino was drafted in june- 2010. He played 9 games, and went back to Portland. Ullstrom was playing his first season in B-Port.

So Ullstrom was already here. Your statement is basically false- unless hockey database is untruthful- or Bridgeport isn't inside the United States. As I look North across the sound- I see Bridgeport.. 


About that camp invite, and young players earning a spot(your a big fan these days of that concept) on the roster.


2010-2011 Ullstrom goes 17-24-41 in 67 AHL games.

2011-2012 Ullstrom goes 24-6-30 in 41 AHL games, gets NHL call up. scoring a goal every other game- pretty impressive.

2012-2013 Ullstrom gets an invite, Nino doesn't and loses his mind..


to be fair, lets take Nino's best , and only full AHL season. The one where he doesn't get a camp invite.


2012-2013 Nino goes  28-22-50 in 74 AHL games.


basically NINO needed 33 games to score 4 more goals then Ullstrom scored the season prior. Ullstrom rated .73 points a game- Nino rated .67 points a game. 


Ullstrom basically deserved a camp invite in 2012-2013. His last season in the AHL was superior to Nino's last AHL season. Ullstrom wasn't a superior player- but if your a champion of earning it!- then Ullstrom earned a camp invite over a guy who had 1 point in 55 NHL games- and was clearly over matched at the NHL level.


Ullstrom posted  4-4-8 line in 29 NHL games, then a 2-3-5 line in 20 NHL games. 


Stats or results wise:


Nino scoring 50 points in 74  AHL games isn't dominating at the AHL level.

Ryan Strome had 49 points in 37 games- that is domination worthy of a call up.


Enjoy the current Nino holdout in Mn. Nino holding out and being difficult- WELL I AM SHOCKED! I wish there were some warning signs about something like this happening. IF your gonna defend somebody, Nino isn't the guy. IF your gonna state players should earn a chance at  roster spots- Ullstrom earn a chance at a roster spot. 









mrcisback
mrcisback

 Chicago's Nick Leddy and Toronto's Dion Phaneuf would definitely help the Islanders defense. I just wonder what the cost would be.

wally1616
wally1616

This blog blows big time just like the GM and owner.

David Rosenthal
David Rosenthal

Sept 2nd...where are all the people back in May-Aug that said Snow will pick up a top D or 2 and take advantage of the teams against the cap, then laughed at me when I said he wouldnt...every summer we hear Garth is going to fleece some cap trouble team, and it never happens

islesfan77
islesfan77

@rmbbanned  RM, you and I agree on a lot of points, but on the Nino issue we do disagree. The Islanders used him wrong. He should not have been placed on a fourth line with Pandolfo and Reasoner. Those guys were not playing well or were done already and to put Nino on that line was a terrible idea. Snow and Cappy should have known that Nino could have very easily lost confidence if things did not go well, which is what happened.  The whole notion that he would learn how to play defense doesn't wash because Reasoner and Pandolfo were not doing that well.


Obviously, Nino did not handle it well and sulked like a baby. However, he has an excuse, he is an immature kid. I expected more out of Snow. I expected Snow to sit down with Nino after his complete season in the AHL and say, "Look, lets forget the past and start over." Snow didn't do that and he should have


Is Nino any good? I don't know, I am not sold on last season alone. I do think the Clutterbuck trade was inadequate return. You can't build a team properly by unloading 5th overall picks for a third liner.


DK, you cannot have it both ways. You cannot claim Snow is at fault for drafting Nino too high and then say that Snow gave him away for nothing. Either Nino was not a legitimate 5th overall pick and Snow did not get a good return on him or he was not a legitimate 5th overall pick and therefore the Clutterbuck trade is not as bad as it is seems on paper.  As for whether Snow should have detected that the kid was immature, that is a tough charge. There was no write up on him being difficult and if the Isles did not draft him 5th, he probably would have went top ten. He was ranked to be a top pick. Also, there was a bad knock on Ho Sang and yet most would agree that Snow did the right thing burning a first round pick on him.



dkdk
dkdk

Rm.... This isn't about defending niño, this is about the waste of a 5th overall pick which is what it became. Many young players holdout, see Ryan Johanssen. Remember losing bergenheim for a season early on? My point is simply just because a player asks for a trade DOESNT mean he HAS to be traded. And if niño is a bad apple, and maybe he is, maybe he isn't ... Shouldn't Garth and the brain trust stumbled upon that during he predraft interviews? As least a red flag? In terms of Ullstrom he was given a guaranteed one way deal. For what? How was it deserved? And how was it repaid? By running to the KHL. But he isn't a baby or a problem child? Now you can get back to ignoring this board and never coming on again while posting 20 more times. You know how to keep your word.

shlo
shlo

@rmbbanned Did not hear about Nino holding out in Minni, gave me a nice laugh....immature kid.

jepliberty
jepliberty

@mrcisback 

While I personally hate Pheneuf, he would help this young defense providing they go with some of the kids, and either sit, or trade some of the vets on D.

jepliberty
jepliberty

@mrcisback 

Some in here would say much, to much to give up to get either one of them, and maybe, just maybe one of them would be the 'missing piece' to get this team into the playoffs, we will see what snow does before the season begins.

elephant
elephant

@David Rosenthal  It may be September, but there is still a month and a half to make a move.  Also, the teams above the cap are STILL above the cap!  It's not like they've traded all these defensemen and Snow has missed out.

Also, its not easy to get a good D man.  The Islanders may very likely have to give up a prospect with a lot of potential (Lee, Strome, or Nelson) in order to get a deal done.  I'm glad Snow is taking his time to let those teams get desperate to offload some salary.  Once again... It's not like other teams are just scooping up all these D men that some think grow on trees.

dkdk
dkdk

Well after fleecing teams out of Collberg and Clutterbuck he needs a break

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

Of course, that none of the cap challenged teams have made a move yet to comply might have some meaning..

It is Sept 2, and Nino still doesn't have a signed contract. If he was still an Islander, it would be the fault of Snow. Just nod your heads, you know you would be blaming him..

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@isles: the return on Nino was very poor. Was he mishandled, yep- he was rushed. Solid points, both counts.

But Nino was sent to the AHL, put on the top line and had $800,000 in his checking account. He was MISHANDLED, but sure wasnt MISTREATED. The Franchise never went public, never spoke down about him. Nino went off on the Franchise in public- not once but twice.

A guy with 64 career NHL games took his gripes outside the room. Exactly where is that kind of conduct accepted with NHL franchise? For all the writing about establishing a winning culture, for all the envy of quality franchises in Boston, Chicago, L.A.- show me a player with 64 carer games running his mouth to press about his home Franchise in a negative fashion.

Nino wanted out, and they moved him out the door. Everything you like about the current crop of home grown Islanders, you see anybody try to throw the Franchise under a bus. EVEN Josh Bailey, humiliated and sent down to the AHL- never said a negative word.

Sometimes you got to shoot a hostage, to show people your serious. They shot Nino.

So who has a longer RFA hold out- Nino after 1 year in Minn with all 14 goals- or every other RFA free agent on the Islanders the last 3 years? Didn't you see all the players who were sad when Moulson left. There were plenty. Anybody weep over Nino leaving the team?NOPE.

It was a bad trade in terms of returning talent for a fifth overall draft pick, but one that had to be made for the health of the franchise.

dkdk
dkdk

77 .... I am not saying anything about him being drafted too high. I thought he was gonna go 7-8 but I didn't object at 5. My premise is exactly what you state in the next to last paragraph. When you commit to a kid fifth overall you must have a lot of conviction in him and to part with him 2 years later for a 3rd liner seems rash. Bigger than is my point about asking for a trade. You do not have to honor that by any means. And I think that ties in to your point about sitting him down for a talk.

So my point isn't necessarily on niño the player, it is niño the asset. A fifth overall pick is a huge commodity to part with it so easily and for dimes on the dollar is problematic. And that is the reason I included the predraft interviews. All teams get to meet these kids. If this kid is really a head case shame on the org for not at least having some idea on that.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@dkdk.. No, the first point is your post was wrong. Dead wrong. You made something up to make snow look bad.

At least have some honesty, and admit your mistake.

Your second point is correct- Nino was mishandled. Celebrate that comment. Unlike you, I can easily admit when somebody makes a solid point. Even somebody who is basically worthless on this site, creates fake timelines, and can't even fess up to it. Your incredibly weak, but your point on Nino being mishandled is accurate.

Third- the Isles were correct to show Nino the door. They had NO choice. What should they do, knuckle under to his complaints, and promote him after 50 points in 74 games. Why not just give him top line minutes too. Definately do this when your Franchise is trying to establish a mind set- TEAM. So let's make an exception for a guy who potted - goal in 55 games, drops 50 points in 74 AHL games, and thru at least 1 if not 2 temper tantrums.

Or you look at Nino,decide you don't need to pick somebody to make an example of when you have Nino jumping up and down saying" pick me, pick me". Throw him out the door, and let everybody know who is the Boss.

Nino had a whole 14 goals last year. 14 goals- so he figures he maybe should hold out? The guy they got for him had 12 goals, in far fewer games. You can't even compare heart and desire, or the physical edge Cal brings compared to Nino.

To complain about the team needing to be tough, to have heart and play with desire( all your digs on Bailey), yet you mourn Nino. Really?

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@ shlo- yeah, stunning isn't it. His go too AHL season wasn't even a point a game, and he demands a call up.

Scoring 1 goal in 55 NHL games while cashing $800,000. If there was ever a time to say thank you, and quite up hoping nobody notices.. Nah- not Nino..

Could be a very good player in 5 years. Right now he is a very good headache for somebody else.

David Rosenthal
David Rosenthal

@elephant @David Rosenthal And again based on the last 8 years I will say the samething come opening night and be told wait until Dec, then its wait until trade deadline and it never happens

kevinpt
kevinpt

@dkdk

I still don't consider the Nino-Clutterbuck trade a fleece necessarily. The guy basically asked to be traded - didn't give Snow much leverage. However, I still blame Snow and the organization for mishandling Nino's development from the get go which led to the trade demand.

@dkdk I'd wager that collberg dosent play one game for the isles.

islesfan77
islesfan77

@rmbbanned  RM makes a solid point here. The cap challenged teams are not moving players to free up salary yet. This was reported on TSN.ca so how is Garth expected to get a deal done in the absence of a trading partner. Not a fan of Garth, but I cannot see him at fault on this one.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@dkdk.. You trying to play it both ways. Your own admission he was picked fifth, rated seven/eight.

Never any bad press on Nino- NONE. He wasn't some guy that snuck up on people, everybody knew who he was when he was drafted.

You want real negative press, a guy with issues- Ho-Sang. Immense talent, and a bad attitude. Nino had none of that static. Since the draft, Ho-Sang has answered every question right, and said all the right things.

Nino could write the definitive book on what not to say, or how to act with 64 career NHL games.

And now he is holding out after a stunning 14 goal season. Better to sell the head case at a discount, then keep him around and posion the room. Don't take a bad result, and make it worse.

dkdk
dkdk

I mourn wasting a 5th overall pick. You mourn locating DPs gold medal, to each his own.

wally1616
wally1616

@mrcisback @islesfan77Oh but I am an Isles fan, long and true. You two are telling me that you like this blog site? You've got to be kidding and what a myopic view you have.  I'd like to see more frequent news items of interest being posted.

dkdk
dkdk

Right the handling was deplorable. But where does it say that if a 20 year old asks to be traded you have to trade him? On the Fly on XM just made fun of that deal again last Friday. I will pose it this way since Niño was taken 5th overall. If we kept him and he became a 3rd - 4th Liner that got 8-10 goals a year, would it be a bust pick? Yes it would be. Welcome to what he became.

dkdk
dkdk

I will not take that bet .... Lol

dkdk
dkdk

Why shouldn't snow be given the benefit of doubt like the other GMs that have finished bottom 5 in 6 of the last 7 years.? Oh right, no others have pulled that task off.

dkdk
dkdk

Rm ...be careful laying with dogs gives you fleas laying with wang gets you indicted. Or "suicidal".

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@dkdk- that is what I love about your weakness. Your inability to admit an error, as if it matters here on cyberspace. So rather then make the admission, you change the subject. Your weak, and we both know it. How can expect to be respected, when you can't even respect yourself.

You were wrong, admit it and move on. Everybody makes mistakes. You blew this one, that fool tag1 leads the league in deleted posts, the other guy wants to spit on Wang, camb33 insults the moderators picture. Yeah, that is some crew you have there. You lie with dogs, You get fleas. Up your game.

Your big shot in my direction is the color of RdP's medal. Um, okay. For all the unpopular opinions I freely write about here, that is your go to answer. WEAK..

That is why I am comfortable in my beliefs, and you run to the safety of the pack- where unless your the lead dog, your always looking at another dogs rear end.

Don't kid yourself, you ain't the lead dog. Consider what I write, and decide for yourself.

mrcisback
mrcisback

@wally1616 @mrcisback @islesfan77 Then you should have said your last sentence first. Every website could always be better but this it what it is. If you hate the website then don't bother posting on it.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@dkdk.. So far Nino has:

A) demanded to be brought up, pouted when he didn't get brought up- his stats fell off the table.

B) demanded a trade, and he got got traded.

C) now has a contract issue with the Wild.

Awesome. Just awesome behavior from him. I give Snow blame for bringing him up too soon.

But Nino has been a problem child before this year, and is now a problem child again on a different team.

If he wasn't an ex-Islander traded by Snow, he would be some spoiled kid wasting time. He is an RFA. Sign your bridge deal, and get to work. He gains nothing by holding out except building a reputation as a problem player.

kevinpt
kevinpt

@dkdk

True, he didn't need to trade him. But for me personally I don't want any players on my favorite team that don't want to actually play for the team. Honestly, I would rather have a guy like Clutterbuck who plays his heart out every night than a whiny kid like Nino (I understand why he whined, but still, you're 20 years old and haven't earned anything yet, keep your mouth shut and be patient). 

islesfan77
islesfan77

@dkdk  I might....depending on how serious his injury is.

islesfan77
islesfan77

@slapshot18_rs @islesfan77 @rmbbanned  Slap, I have to tell you, you seem to be the most level headed person on this site. You don't go to extremes and you don't look at everything overly positive or overly negative. Keep it up.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

Kinda like the Pens with a top 5 pick for 5 years in a row? Including #1 overall twice.

5-1-2-1-2 or Whitney, MAF, Malkin, Sid and Staal

You crazy kids with all that draft knowledge.

3-7-3-1.. A four year stretch for the Blackhawks.

The year after that 4 year run of greatness, they picked at 11- the immortal Kyle Beech.

those 4 guys picked at 3-7-3-1 Skille, Toews, cam barker, Kane and Beech. Well 2 outta 5 ain't bad.

The year before that run of great Chicago dreams, the Hawks picked 14. The first two picks- Seabrook and Crawford.. The year before that they had some scrub in the second rd- Duncan Keith..

Nice to have Seabrook, Keith, and Crawford in the system before you go drafting 3-7-3-1-11(beach).

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@dkdk.. Look at you silly man. Begging for me to retire, and then responding to my post. Weak, very weak...

@dkdk he shouldn't. Imo.

camb33
camb33

@kevinpt @dkdk  didn't viz and nabby not want to play here? how quickly we forget

dkdk
dkdk

And I want players on my team that want to be here especially when so many don't. And that brings me back to the vanek for Moulson and a lottery pick charade.

You want niño to stay. Invite him to camp which is what he wanted. A simple camp invite which went to Ullstrom as a bribe to come over. And of course the thanks for that was Ullstrom bolting a year after getting that guaranteed one way deal.

dkdk
dkdk

I am not begging you to retire, I spent a night a few months ago reading your soliloquy upon soliloquy on how you were done with this board. Didn't know done meant 20 posts a night.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@camb33- didn't Viz and Nabby later sign contract extensions after playing here for one season. Even while the team was expected to finish outside the playoff hunt.

How can be so poorly informed?

Oh that's right, your cam33. Why bother with facts, just create silly stories- even if the ending totally disproves your point.

kevinpt
kevinpt

@camb33 @kevinpt @dkdk

Also there's a difference. They are both veterans while Nino was a kid who had yet to even prove he belonged in the NHL yet.

dkdk
dkdk

Camb ... Those pesky facts again! Lol.

rmbbanned
rmbbanned

@dkdk.. Yet players keep resigning here, once they get here. And rather then holding out like Nino and Johansson- JT signs a 5 year deal that is considered one of the best team friendly deals in the NHL.

Hammer signs a deal, that is very team friendly.

CdN signs a very friendly team deal. No nonsense, no drama, he just signs and plays.

Viz doesn't want to come, and later signs an extension. Nabby doesn't want to come, and he signs an extension.

The actions of these players run contrary to your opinion. The one guy who complained was terrible that season, and forgot to say thanks when they moved him to a playoff team in Boston.

Their are players worth defending- right now Nino the Holdout isn't one of them.

kevinpt
kevinpt

@dkdk

Don't get me wrong, I'm agreeing with everything you're saying - he should've gotten an invite and he shouldn't have been stuck on one of the worst lines in hockey history. But once he whined and demanded a trade, I didn't want him on the team anymore.

dkdk
dkdk

77 .... With all due respect Nabby wanted a starting gig and we were the only team that he would get that from. We have let viz come and go as he pleases since he walked in to the room .... A couple of months late. It is a high paying country club to him, why leave. We extend kids on ELC deals that would be RFA and have little leverage and guys looking to extend their already long careers. We aren't getting many 27 year old with options to commit with choices available to the,.

dkdk
dkdk

Kevin ... I get it, and a good chunk of me feels the same. But there are those that put ALL blame on the player and agent. I think the org should take more of the hit. I look at it this way if I were Nino's dad and I saw what went on with the geriatric line as a rookie and then not getting invited I would have wanted my kid traded too.

elephant
elephant

I think Nino should have shown some humility, accepted the fact that he was like 19/20 years old, and earned some respect.  Instead, he ran his mouth.Honestly... I'd rather have Clutterbuck.  He puts his head down, is tough as nails, and has a scoring touch to net about 15 goals in a full season (with limited minutes, mind you).  Maybe Nino will pot 10 more goals a year, but it's not like that trade was as terribly lopsided as everyone makes it seem... in my opinion of course...

shamwow
shamwow

@elephant 

Nino should have shown some humility, huh?

You mean like that unmistakable humility on full display when Snow proclaimed, repeatedly, to anyone who'd listen, "We don't give a s--t what anyone thinks"

Ah, yes... Be it ever so humble, there's no place like Wang World.