It’s no secret amongst NHL fans that the Islanders’ perils on the ice have resulted in the once proud franchise being relegated to perennial basement dweller. While the franchise continues to toil in a state of flux both on and off the ice, there are still those who remain cautiously optimistic. After all, with a cupboard of young players like John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Nino Niederreiter and a plethora of promising young defensemen, what’s not to like?


Well for starters, there’s a harsh dose of realism. A flashy 4-2-1 start to the season piqued the interest of most. After losing Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo for an extended period of time, and with Tavares going down early in the season opener, others relished the opportunity like Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau who suddenly appeared to be fantasy steals in the making. As a closet Islanders fan, I have to admit that even I was cautiously optimistic by the club’s start, but things quickly came crashing down.


Now the Islanders certainly are not a major team of interest for owners in short term fantasy leagues. Chances are the only Islanders in small leagues might be Tavares and James Wisniewski; with Okposo and Streit lingering on an IR somewhere, poised to be hopeful boosts when they return to full health. Where the Islanders do come into play, however, are the more comprehensive keeper leagues. Looking around the NHL, you’d be hard pressed to find a more rounded group of players under the age of 23, giving the Islanders no shortage of valuable pieces to supplement your long-term plan in a keeper league.


Where the concern comes into play, however, is that this team lacks a sense of direction, and with some of the most recent off-ice antics to derive from Long Island, these concerns should be paramount for poolies looking to invest in New York Islanders prospects. It’s become no secret that team owner Charles Wang is one of the most bizarre owners in the league, and his hands on approach has undoubtedly cost this team heavily. Whether you want to focus on the Alexei Yashin contract, or the Rick DiPietro contract, or how the team has flip-flopped general managers and coaches, there’s plenty of cause for conern.


As an avid keeper league general manager, it’s getting to the point where drafting New York Islanders prospects in fantasy hockey is almost like drafting Russian Players for NHL Clubs. Sure, John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit can make it on any fantasy club. But how much is their upside impacted from playing with the Islanders? How much can you really expect out of a 20 year old Tavares who is left to play with Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau on the “top” line? Sure, you’re going to get limited production out of them, but how long will the Islanders wait until they finally decide to invest some money into this team?


Sadly, it’s probably going to take a new ownership group to really stimulate any legitimate change, and the timeframe on that is sceptical at best.


Which leaves the question for keeper league general managers. If your league keeps up to date with entry drafts, how confident can you be in your high picks like Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, Nino Niederreiter and Kirill Petrov? Case in point, look at Josh Bailey, the 9th overall pick in 2008. Many agree that he was rushed to the NHL as a 19 year old and would have been better served with another year in Windsor and potentially a year in the AHL before lacing them up in the show. Well, after 66 points in two years of NHL hockey plus 18 games this season, Bailey has landed himself a spot in the AHL after the Islanders decided to “loan” him to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. This is something that has to concern you if you’re a fan of say, Nino Niederreiter.


And then you have to consider that the Islanders inevitably look like they’re on a path for another Top 5 pick this season, potentially even getting top honours at the 2011 NHL Draft Podium. How much of a cause for concern is it that your high draft pick could potentially be playing in the New York Islanders organization?


As it stands, these factors are all a huge concern and something you need to consider in your decision making process. In a keeper league, I always weight the team a player plays on, and frankly, the Islanders are probably the most concerning franchise to have your player belong to in the NHL right now.


My advice? Be leery of anyone belonging to the New York Islanders. This state of this team is going to get worse before it gets remedied, and that does not bode well for any player you have belonging to this franchise. Any Islanders prospect is a risk right now, and you need to assess and manage those risks before making your move.

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duballstar014 said:

Response to The Hockey Hitman For the record, I don't think that the Isles should buy out DiPietro. That would be a major mess. Why I do think it's a bad contract is because first his health has been an issue, but the team is invested in him for so long, they can't really pursue another franchise goaltender. So, all of their eggs are in DiPietro's basket, which brings me to the 2nd reason this is a bad contract. Unless DiPietro can turn back into a winning goaltender, the Isles are relying on someone who just isn't reliable. It's not the money that's the problem, it's the fact that they're invested in an average or sub-par goaltender for the length that they are. I hope RDP regains form and becomes a stellar goalie again (Dobber actually had RDP ranked #7 overall in his goalie rankings at one point if you can believe it), but I just don't know how likely it is. The team has been investing in older 1b type goalies (Biron, Roloson), but it wouldn't hurt to look into an up and coming goalie who is just tearing up the AHL right now or a highly touted goalie who's stock might be falling a tad (Chet Pickard for example).

I completely agree that their cap space is great, and it's because they are giving their youth (and cheap contracts) plenty of ice time to develop, though some would argue it's too much ice time/responsibility. One key thing they've done is not invest a ton of salary into older players for extended periods of time. As soon as their young studs start really going off, they'll earn more money and there will be a new line of youngsters and ELC's coming up.

My main point is that the Isles are bad now, yes, but they are in a perfect position to stockpile young talent and keep them for many years. Charles Wang is an idiot, so I'm not refuting that, but outside of the DiPietro and the Yashin contracts, the team isn't looking all that bad. They're just taking a little longer to develop, which isn't a terrible thing.
December 10, 2010
Votes: -1

The Hockey Hitman said:

The Hockey Hitman
two things... I agree completely with the author of the article. The Islanders are a mess because of Charles Wang. While I respect where duballstar014 is coming from, I'd like to point out the Isles have the 2nd most cap space of any team in the league.

I don't think the DiPietro contract is that bad when you consider its only a 4.5 million cap hit. If he was healthy this whole time it would be viewed as a bargain. To buy DiPietro out, it would only cost the Isles a cap hit of 1.5 million over, granted it would be for the next 20 years. Don't know if its worth it to do that, cause it only saves 3 million. And besides that, the DiPietro contract is not a bad contract because they have PLENTY of cap space, and hes injured so much its just a matter of time before he'll either a) retire or b) be put on LTIR which won't count towards the cap.

The Isles only have one other player locked up beyond 2012-13 and thats Andrew MacDonald and his dirt cheap 550k cap hit.
December 10, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

duballstar014 said:

... In my opinion, the biggest problem the Islanders have right now is that they have Rick DiPietro locked up for another decade. It's not often that a team can win with an average or sub-average goaltender and unless DiPietro regains form, the Isles need a young goalie who can win them games. Roloson/DiPietro is just a band-aid.

The next problem is that Yashin is on the payroll (and cap hit) until 2015. Yashin isn't a huge deal, but it's still a thorn in their side.

Outside of those two things, the Isles have done a pretty good job recently of keeping their payroll slim and young. They'll take on veterans every now and then, but never locking them up longer than a year or two and they'll make bargain signings (Trent Hunter at $2m/year comes to mind). Next they have plenty of youth that just needs to develop together. I skated with Rhett Rakhshani when he was much younger and he was one of the best kids in CA at his age level. He's gone on to succeed at every level since then and he's doing phenomenal in the AHL right now.

They're a young team that just needs time to develop. They might not put it all together as quickly as say the Penguins did, but they also don't have a Crosby and Malkin combo. The LA Kings are a similar team in youthful talent, but they have Quick and Bernier to fall back on. The growth was severely stunted by a couple bad contracts, but they're doing a good job by not panicking and adding unnecessary and costly pieces. I'd expect good things in 1-2 years, granted they somehow get a young goalie who can win games. There's plenty of them out there and sometimes they are quite cheap too...a waiver wire pickup could do the trick.
December 09, 2010
Votes: +0
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