THE MORNING SKATE — Grading the Defense and Changes in the Lottery

Kevin Schultz , Islanders Point Blank:

The NHL outlined changes in the lottery system yesterday, which will be minimal and hopefully not a concern around these parts (but lottery concerns are a longstanding tradition). The lottery will be held on April 29th and the main difference this year is that the team that wins the lottery will automatically get the first overall pick. In years past, the team that won would move up four spots.

The change means that any team that misses the playoffs could end up with the first overall pick. It also drastically decreases the liklihood that having the worst record will give a team the #1. In the past, the worst team would have a nearly 50% chance of taking home the grand prize. Under this new system, their chances have been reduced to 25% (although if they lose the lottery, they’ll still pick second).

The Draft itself will be held at the end of June on the 30th. It will take place at the Rock in New Jersey, so pencil that into your calendar. Might be interesting to go see regardless of where the Islanders pick.

GRADING THE DEFENSE
Over at Lighthouse, Garik took a very, very, very long look at evaluating the Islanders defense thus far (seriously it’s ridiculously long). We’ll skim ahead to his final thoughts:

Overall the Islanders Defense has been better than last year by a good bit. AMac has stayed the same, Streit and Hamonic have gotten a little bit worse, but Lubo is a major upgrade, Hickey seems to be a potential real steal (the next Amac perhaps?) and Strait is servicable. Moreover, we’ve gone from 4 dead-weight D men to at best 2, and really Carkner isn’t super Mottau like. Moreover, both of those 2 guys haven’t gotten major minutes or games played for various reasons. And Hamonic should be better as the season goes on.

…The D has not been the problem – it’s just that the goaltending makes it look worse than it is.

USING OWED UTILITY BILLS AS BROOKLYN LEVERAGE?
On Sunday, news broke that the Islanders and County both owed each other money courtesy of a story in Newsday with a cleverly tilted title.

A theory floated at examiner.com is that team could be using this debt, along with the asbestos claims and money the County owes for repairs as leverage to get out of the Coliseum lease early.

Maybe the team is banking on the idea that offering to settle up its debt obligations to the dead broke County would be enough of an exchange to get them to Brooklyn early. We’ll see. At this point, it certainly seems like getting out of Nassau early could work in favor of both parties. The Islanders head to their new revenue generator in Brooklyn and the County gets money and the ability to develop the land without having to involve the Islanders (although let’s face it, the County developing anything at this point is more than wishful thinking).

ALSO: Chris Botta on Rick DiPietro and Tim Thomas