The Morning Skate: Time to Think About Next Year’s Roster

Kevin Schultz

The final 10 games of the 2013-14 are approaching — the 11th from the end takes place tonight — and the way this year has gone they’ll be best used as evaluation on decisions for next year.

For the younger players, it’s a chance to make an impression for a roster spot and get a jump on training camp. Anders Lee is pretty clearly at the head of the pack right now, with 10 points in 11 games. Of course small sample size warnings apply, but anywhere in the real of a point per game, or above half a point per game, would be excellent from him at this point. Ryan Strome has played well since his recall with six points in 11 games and another summer of training will hopefully do him well.

On defense, the Islanders have quite a few names to evaluate and most of them you would imagine are already penciled in for next year’s roster given; A) their performance and B) the lack of depth at the defensive position. Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan and Thomas Hickey should all be in the fold in the fall. Both Donovan and de Haan, along with Lee, are going to be restricted free agents and owed new contracts over the summer.

When it comes to the veterans, it’s a bit trickier. The Islanders need a starting goaltender in the worst way and I think that’s evident after this season. Neither Kevin Poulin nor Anders Nilsson have stepped up to the occasion of being given regular NHL playing time. Evgeni Nabokov is quite clearly not the caliber of a starting goaltender (he’s not ranked in the league’s top 50 (!) netminders in save percentage with at least 10 games played).

In today’s Newsday, Arthur Staple wrote about the possibility of Nabokov returning as the team’s backup:

After watching both of his young backups, Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson, fail to impress this season, Garth Snow will be searching for a starter on the trade or free-agent market this summer. Not having a capable backup has hurt as much as not having a solid No. 1 during the last seven seasons, so having someone the players are comfortable with on the bench might be seen as a positive.

“I feel like I can still do it,” Nabokov said. “[NHL defenseman] Rob Blake told me, ‘When it’s time, you’ll know.’ I don’t know yet.”

Another veteran who has had questions asked of him is Josh Bailey, who is amazingly still only 24 years old. Eyes on Isles writes that it may be time to buy him out of his contract that runs through 2017-18:

For me, the greatest question for Bailey’s future with the Islanders is about where he fits in. Clearly, unless he has an impressive offseason, he is not a second line player. Period. Brock Nelson has proven his place in the top-six group of forwards and, being perfectly honest, the idea of Nelson, Frans Nielsen, and Michael Grabner is not the worst thing that could happen going in to next season, baring any trades or free agent signings, though we are all hoping for a 1st line player.

This leaves Bailey out of a job.

In my opinion, Bailey has one a year to prove himself before the idea of a trade or buyout is thought about.

Bailey, while having a down year, is a player I can’t see being bought out unless the Islanders have so many prospects/young players on the NHL roster that there just isn’t room. While he’s not had a good year and is inching ever-closer to the ‘bust’ label, he’s still a useful player on the third or fourth line for depth. He’s certainly better than the failed experiments of Pierre Marc-Bouchard, Peter Regin and Marty Reasoner so I don’t see the value in buying him out.

On the trade front, well, he’s not got much value. You’d have to hope he improves to raise his value and then it’s another conundrum; do you trade a guy who finally seems to be coming into his own?

Brock Nelson, as the writer said, has already jumped Bailey on the depth chart. If Lee, Strome and others do as well then we can certainly start to think about exit scenarios. I’m just leery of giving up on depth for the sake of it not being top-six talent. The Islanders, while they obviously need top-six talent, shouldn’t forsake the rest of the roster for the sake of cutting bait. If they team ever gets good enough, they’ll need that playoff depth as well.


Not much Islander material in this week’s 30 Thoughts, but Elliotte Friedman notes that the Islanders were in on another college prospect:

20. While several NHL teams wait for Lowell’s season to end as theychase defenceman Christian Folin, there’s a couple other names to keep an eye on. San Jose has signed Bowling Green captain Ryan Carpenter, who was also looking at Boston and the Islanders… 

Also: Good counterpoint from Jonathan Willis here on the Oilers and their draft picks… This is hilarious stuff on the James Reimer situation in Toronto… Justin Bourne on the playoff races

The Montreal Canadiens 2nd round draft pick watch is in full effect:




56 comments
jpizzy
jpizzy

The idea of Nabby returning just boggles the mind. He's not Barry Bonds and won't get better as he gets closer to 40. He's been far below average for two years now. Why would the idea of bringing him back again even be considered? Bernier, Bishop, Schneider, Neuvirth, etc. Countless goalies have changed teams over the past year and where have the Isles been? Out to lunch as usual. 

Mario Gazzaneo
Mario Gazzaneo

Another thing coming up is I dont want to waste a year of contract on Reinhart, Pelech, Pulock just so they play one game like Lee did last year. That is just stupid.

John Richards
John Richards

Thanx to wangs cheapness and snows stupidity we have no first line next year!! As much as anders Lee is promising with his combination of size/strength/willingness to compete he's gonna be force fed on the wing with JT/KO/and will be expected from day one to produce!! Can he?? Who knows!! And if Cappy is still the coach next year and that critical period in November when our season is in peril just what's he gonna do?? Man doesn't use his timeouts/makes bad desicions etc!! And Doug weight is next?? Cmon!! Hire a real coach!!

willymayshays
willymayshays

-If I could be optimistic for a moment and pretend that Wang/Snow could actually make this a winning team.  here's my list of how to do that (assuming Wang keeps Snow, for reasons beyond my ability to comprehend)

-Capuano needs to be replaced.  I wish Snow would get a real coach, but that person would be too smart and Snow has an inferiority complex.  So I'll take Weight over Cappy if I have to.  Point is you can't get worse than Capuano.


-Goalie (everyone knows this)


-Depth at wing (we need a second line that can score)  We have prospects and picks to trade, get us a RW that play on the second line.


-Veteran, defensive minded D-man that is over the hill physically (so not to expensive, contractually) but most importantly can teach and lead by example.  We have an unbelievably high number of defensive prospects that could use on ice tutelage. 


-Trade Hickey.  Defensively he not much better than AMac.  I like the guy, but little defenders are not my style.


-Draft... physical strength, toughness and size need to be important.  If Bennet, Reinhart and Ekblad are gone, Draisaitl is my pick followed by Ritchie.  Ekblad is my top prospect if we win the lottery.


-Cap space forward thinking.  Okposo would get a new contract if I was in charge. 
He has 2 remaining seasons under contract, which would be great for lowering our salary cap, BUT since Wang will have a tough time reaching the floor  let's give KO more now so we can afford to keep all of our young talent long term.  AND still have money left over for filling holes with talented FA's.  Lets face it, if KO keeps this up, KO will be pricing himself out of Wangville in 2 yrs OR less depending on what great deal Snow can get for him, prior to FA.  (Maybe a conditional 2nd....) 

5.5 mil/7 yrs at age 27

Instead of

7.5/7 yrs at age 29

-Lastly, I would have Bailey on the trading block.  But we're probably stuck with him for a while.

Larry Samele
Larry Samele

put a real Defense in front of the goalies, and they will look  whole lot better. Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden would have a bad GAA with this D. Try addressing this before you panic with new Goalies.

bubbamac19
bubbamac19

Went to the game v. Columbus... a few thoughts ... 1. Donovan was pitiful; he needs to show some improvement b/c he looks really over matched. 2. Nabby is a backup goalie/positive locker room presence at best 3. LOVE the idea of offering Miller 2 yr @ 10M per (I think RM had that thought) 4. No confidence in Viz being useful next year 5. Low confidence in either Reinhart or Pulock substantially improving the D next year just because they're bigger. I thought Donovan would replace Streit, for example; whoops. 6. Whatever happens, I am going to go to as many games as I can next year. Cuz after that, it's going to be very tough for me to get to Brooklyn... 7. The Isles may not be good, but I love 'em anyway despite the near daily headaches!

Dan Coscino
Dan Coscino

First of all; it's been time to think about next year's roster since that Garden loss to the Rangers about two months ago.


Second of all; Griffin Reinhart, Czuczman, Pokka and Pulock will also be certainly be in the mix. Reinhart, in particular, better be good and ready because the Isles have may have some skill on the blue line but they are small, small, small.


Third of all; PAP begat Boyes begat Bouchard begat a 4th round pick; Moulson begat Vanek begat Sebastian Collberg; this is why "depth" scoring is always a problem and the rebuild is perpetual. Anders Lee, Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson would have made a helluva 3rd scoring line behind a Tavares line and a Nielsen checking/all-around line but since 2 of their top four wingers from a year ago are now gone, the Isles are more or less back to where they started-- relying on rookies/2nd year players to play major roles up front and keeping their fingers crossed that 6-Goal Bailey can save the day. 


Fourth of all; if the Edmonton Oilers can acquire Bryzgalov, Scrivens and Fasth in-season, why can't the Isles get just one!


Fifth of all; why is Nabokov playing at all at this point in the season? What purpose does that serve? Do they need to evaluate his talent? Have they not gotten enough of a look at him the past 20 years? Shouldn't Nilsson and/or Poulin be playing? Either they will show something positive or they will sink the team to 29th. Either way that is way more productive for the team than having a 40 year-old goalie play another 8 or so meaningless games.

jonsson3
jonsson3

open the vault and get jonas hiller!!!

mrcisback
mrcisback

                          I'd probably go after James Reimer in a trade with Toronto. The Islanders have 2- 2nd rounders, 2- 3rd rounders and 3 -4th rounders in the 2014 NHL draft. Reimer is still young at 26 and has a life time record of 64 and 45 with a .913 save %. I also try and coax Koskinen back from Finland. Not many people might agree with me but i'm willing to give Josh Bailey one more year. Maybe the light will turn on for this guy. Maybe he needs a new girlfriend or something. Griffen Reinhart and Ryan Pulock should be on the Islanders defense come september. Maybe we'll have a little luck and have a chance to draft Ekblad or Reinhart in the up coming draft.

John Falcone
John Falcone

Next year's roster should start with a new GM

Scott Weinstein
Scott Weinstein

All we're going to get are more 4th liner/7th defenseman types like Hal Gill or Jeff Halpern.

Don22
Don22

The Reimer video is pretty funny, although I can't stand that song.  So true about Clarkson.  If he is worth 5.2 mil per year for 7, then how much is Moulson worth?  I don't know if Toronto has any buyouts left, but I am willing to bet he may be one of them in the next few years.  He had I think one season of over 30 points.

erika
erika

Lee better be signed! DeHahn as well. Donovan...well, I am not impressed with any of his game so far, but it's not like we are so deep on D that we can afford to let anyone go. Maybe use him in a trade for a goalie??

since72
since72

Snow will bring in another goalie, whether Nabakov is signed or not.  He's gotta reach the cap minimum somehow and this is the easiest way. 

I can't see Bailey being bought out this year.  Snow is very reluctant to pull triggers on his mistakes.  He tends to wish things would change for the better, rather than assess the situation and do the best thing at the moment.  The flubbing of the Vanek deal where he reportedly turned down a number 1 and Etam from the Ducks, hoping things would get better is a good example.  In spite of many years in this job, he doesn't understand the fundamentals of decision making:  It doesn't matter how you got to a position or what you had hoped for;  the only thing that matters is what the right decision is NOW!  He doesn't get that.  So Bailey will be with us for another year at least.

I doubt that a high end forward or D man would come here even if Mr. Wang was willing to pay.  The opportunity to sign those guys was last Summer when the team was on the upswing and signings were feasible.  Now, you can only expect 3rd tier guys who have no one else interested. 

I usually try to look for the positive.  But I see very little with this GM and Coach.  We better get used to the kids.  We're apt to have a linup full of them next season.

John Richards
John Richards

We will be saying that next thanksgiving about 2015!!

isles23
isles23

@John. No first line next year? Is that a serious statement? Tavares and Okposo are all-star level players and will make who ever is on their LW a better player. There are enough issues with this team, you don't need to make any up. But just so you know Lee won't be force fed anything. The approach the team is taking with its younger players now gives them more time to grow before they even get to the NHL. That way when they get here they are able to contribute immediately. Not always the case as seen with Donovan but Lee, DeHann, and Nelson are examples of what I mean.

since72
since72

@John Richards Hire a real GM, who will hire a real coach.

Agreed on your assessment of Snow.  He's been in the job for 7 years and still hasn't got a clue.

Todd Walsh
Todd Walsh

@Larry Samele  yeah, it's not only the players, but the system.  This system is "puck control"...Most times, the Stanley cup winning team has a "defense" system as its priority.  If your team has been one of the worst defensive teams almost every single year, etc.....Goaltending has been poor, defense poor and the system of puck control stinks too

Don22
Don22

@bubbamac19 Unless they have cap issues, my bet is St Louis resigns Miller.  Something tells me he would rather play for a winner at this point than get the big bucks.  Doesn't hurt to try though.


I don;t know that you can be concerned about reinhart or Pulock because of what Donovan has showed. Donovan was a 4th round pick and the other 2 are both 1st rounders.  Remains to be seen of course, but I'm looking forward to seeing what they can do.  


I'm with you.  Headaches, but they are our headaches.


willymayshays
willymayshays

@mrcisback Reimer is a must.  Even if it's not Reimer, I'm thinking that FA's are not going to want to come here more and more.  Players don't want to come here because they know Wang/Snow are not committed to winning.  The have a "keep your head above water" type policy.   And although they have seemingly drowned, they haven't.  Next yr they give many enough to hope but not enough to win.  It's amazing how little some people need to be content.  Wang tries to push those borders as far as he can though.  For him, content is not enough,  it's how little can I give before I get in actual trouble.  The salary cap should be raised just because of him.  AND there should be a cap floor on scouting, medical and other staffing, just because of Wang.   

willymayshays
willymayshays

@rmreturns  

Nelson has played wing in the past and should next yr unless there is a sudden need at center.  That need could come from Stromes failure or an injury to one of the centers.  Sundstrom could be ready sometime soon, but I've read he needs a bit more seasoning.  No need to rush him.  Although I'd rather keep him at center in BP,  Sundstrom could still play wing as well.  It will not devalue them, on the contrary, versatility is valuable.  As time goes on things will sort themselves out and Nelson could move to center in the future.  But it's not like Lee, Nelson and Sundstrom are on the trading block anyway.   You've talked about getting defensive prospects but we have enough of those.  This organization, aside from KO and Grabs is extremely weak at the winger position.  Even with Strome or Nelson playing wing, we still need another winger to help with the secondary scoring. 

shlo
shlo

@Don22 Reimer scares me, but I will take a chance on him simply because at the moment we have nothing.

The question is will he take a short term contract to prove himself with the guaranty that he'll be #1 goalie for the duration.

 I hope Koskinen is our future #1. 

The only people that don't make mistakes are those that do nothing, so Toronto made a mistake. I always go back to Jason Blake's lesson- you have a great year or two you think you are the next coming and then there is an idiot GM who'll bite.

There are so many examples in the last 4 or 5 years of BIG signing that amounted to nothing.

palffy
palffy

@Don22  To answer your question about Clarkson, he's not worth 5.2 for 7...

ivo
ivo

@erika  I thought Lee signed a 2 year deal.

Don22
Don22

@erika They will be resigned.  They are the type of players the Isles want - young RFA that they can control with a smaller contract. 

John Richards
John Richards

Its funny how people are already penciling in Lee as a star!! Can we see more of him??Ad lelet's not forget this team is poorly managed and coached!! Keep that in mind!!

John Richards
John Richards

Wang will not hire a real gm nor will anyone work for him!! That's a fact jack!!

since72
since72

@Scott Weinstein @willymayshays Hickey is responsible with the puck.  When he takes possession in the defensive zone, it almost always makes its way up ice.  Size is good.  Skill is better.  We have a guy in Bridgeport named Finley who is 6' 8" 250 and cannot play defense.  Hickey is not going anywhere given our current roster.

willymayshays
willymayshays

@rmreturns @mrcisback

Frans is 29, turning 30.  Not old, Older then some yes.  I'd say his production is peaking.  BUT that's good.... NO????

Listen, it's good to think ahead, and I'd love to trade him and get a lot back before he declines beyond his effectiveness.  The thing is he is not old and has shown nothing but INCREASED productivity.  Lets not forget the present, the future seems to be getting enough attention, IMO  We need guys like Frans now.  We need more veterans like Frans now! 

Don22
Don22

@shlo @Don22I agree about Reimer.  I'm not sold on him either, but again - who are they going to bring in?  Do we really think Halak or Elliot will come here?  I doubt it.  However, if they sign him chances are it's in the 1.8 to 2 mil range, which means they will need to give up a #2 pick next year.  My guess is they would need to trade for his rights, kind of like the Clutterbuck trade and then sign him.  Toronto might take a decent prospect for him because I doubt they really want him even as an RFA. 


Take a flier on Reimer (if the price is right) and resign Nabby as the backup.  Assuming a better option to Reimer doesn't become available.

ocanada
ocanada

@shlo @Don22 I doubt Koskinen is going to be anything great, he was only 6th best in the KHL during the regular season and 8th in the playoffs.  I expect Snow to make some moves to get Thatcher Demko in the draft, probably will need a late 1st but knowing this team it could be the first pick.    

Ryan Sweeney
Ryan Sweeney

@Don22 @erika  not to mention this is the first year he has been exposed to the NHL.  most d guys take longer to develop...not ready to give up on him just yet. 

since72
since72

@rmreturns NHL live had reported it, but I don't know if that was a rumour or fact.  It was supposedly a week prior to the actual trade of Vanek.  I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it were true.  Anaheim bloggers were speculating on this as well.  Would have made the Vanek saga somewhat palatable to pick up Etam. 

John Richards
John Richards

@mitchfritz brother I like Lee too and nelson too but this team is so inept and dysfunctional they can mess up a good thing!! I have no faith in the three stooges running this club!!

isles23
isles23

@john. I'm not saying Lee is a star, although I do believe he has the potential, but I do believe he would be just fine in a top 6 role next year. Tavares and Okposo make others better, that's a fact, I don't see how putting a young bull with them doesn't work out. Our first line is not an issue, as long as we have Tavares it will be a legit first line. Like I said we have enough real problems. You don't have to try to make new ones.

willymayshays
willymayshays

@since72 @Scott Weinstein@willymayshays

Not saying he is bad, but with all the young talent and him in his last year of his contract next year I would see if we could get something good back.  A goalie..?   He plays better than AMac and Amac got us two good picks. 

ohiofan
ohiofan

@shlo @ocanada Stats I saw recently he was in the top 5 GAA and save %. Don't know for sure but have to think the KHL has more talent than the AHL. Agree need to try to get him back here as he seems way ahead of Poulin and Nillson at this point.

shlo
shlo

@ocanada Koskinen made the All Star team, so he must be ok.

He may not be great. His save pct is very good.

I said in the past, will say it again: Snow has to find a goalie in Europe and try to sign him because the current NHL  UFA goalies will be very reluctant to come here at this stage.