Previewing the East: N.Y. Islanders
Isles add depth up the middle with signings of backup goalie, second-line center
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
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)
|2013-14 Stats||Vs. Red Wings|
|IN THE CREASE|
|vs. Red Wings|
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.
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.
|2014-15 EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEWS|
|Atlantic Division||Metropolitan Division|
|Buffalo (July 24)||Carolina (Aug. 7)|
|Boston (sep. 11)||Columbus (Aug. 21)|
|Florida (July 29)||New Jersey (Aug. 14)|
|Montreal (Sep. 2)||NY Islanders (July 31)|
|Ottawa (Aug. 12)||NY Rangers (Aug. 28)|
|Tampa Bay (Sep. 4)||Philadelphia (Aug. 26)|
|Toronto (Aug. 5)||Pittsburgh (sep. 9)|
|Washington (Aug. 19)|