Previewing the East: N.Y. Islanders

Isles add depth up the middle with signings of backup goalie, second-line center

Thursday, 07.31.2014 / 12:00 AM
Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
DETROIT – Ready for some hockey?

Sure you are.

The Red Wings don’t open training camp until Sept. 19 in Traverse City, but over the next eight weeks DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose will preview the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, including the Red Wings’ Atlantic Division rivals in Boston, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Florida and Buffalo. This week it's the New York Islanders:

NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Coach: Jack Capuano

2013-14 INTANGIBLES
Last Year: 34-27-11, 79 points (14th in Eastern Conference)
Detroit vs. Islanders: 1-1-1
5-on-5 Goals: 146 (10th in Eastern Conference)
Power Play Efficiency: 49-for-276, 17.8 percent (11th in Eastern Conference)

POINT RANGE
2013-14 Stats Vs. Red Wings
Player POS AGE rank GM G A PT. GM G A PT.
Kyle Okposo RW 26 22 71 27 42 69 3 1 0 1
Thomas Vanek* LW 30 26 78 27 41 68 2 0 1 1
John Tavares C 23 28 59 24 42 66 3 1 2 3
Frans Nielsen C 30 55 80 25 33 58 3 1 0 1
Josh Bailey LW 24 175 77 8 30 38 2 0 2 2
 
IN THE CREASE
2013-14 Stats
Goalie AGE Rank GM W L OTL GAA SV%
Evgeni Nabokov 39 36 40 15 14 8 2.74 .905
vs. Red Wings
2 1 0 0 0.93 .958






2014-15 OUTLOOK

Regular-Season Games vs. Red Wings: Dec. 19 (at DET); Jan. 31 (at DET); Mar. 29 (at NYI).

ARRIVALS:  Forwards Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, Cory Conacher, Jack Skille, Harry Zolniercyk and Kael Mouillerat, defenseman T.J. Brennan, and goalies Chad Johnson, David Leggio and Kevin Poulin.

DEPARTURES:  Defensemen Dan Boyle and Radek Martinek; and goalie Evgeni Nabokov.

Halak
PLAYER TO WATCH: Finally, the Islanders think they have stability between the pipes with goalie Jaroslav Halak, who signed a four-year, $18 million contract in May. The Isles have won 30-34 games in the past three full seasons. Meanwhile, the veteran netminder posted 29 wins with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 52 games with St. Louis and Washington last season. Halak is a reliable commodity, who has enjoyed 25-wins or better in each of the past four full seasons, which is a definite upgrade on Long Island.

SEASON SCOPE: The Islanders, who are getting ready for their farewell season at Nassau Coliseum, bolstered their offense by adding a pair of speedy and highly-skilled wingers when they signed UFAs Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. The two veteran forwards know each other very well. They’ve been friends for years and were teammates in Toronto. Grabovski likely fits in the No. 2 center hole behind John Tavares, while Kulemin will probably play left wing on the second forward line.

GM Garth Snow has said that he likes the team’s depth and points to the signings of AHL veterans Cory Conacher and T.J. Brennan. The Isles are expected to give Brennan, who produced 25 goals for the Toronto Marlies last season, an opportunity to help the power play while becoming an NHL regular.

The Islanders will move into Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015-16.

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