When Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit went down with long-term injuries, the weight of Long Island was shifted onto the shoulders of John Tavares. When Tavares sustained a concussion this past week, many wondered if the Islanders would be able to win more than 10-15 games this season. While Tavares isn’t expected to be out for a long time, the lack of talent on the Islanders was a problem even before their three best skaters sustained injuries.
However, the Islanders do have some solid fantasy-relevant players that are worth owning in most fantasy league formats. Scott Gordon has the team playing a fast-paced, aggressive, offensively-oriented style of game. They don’t have a ton of talent, but they are a fun team to watch because of how hard they work and how well they support each other on the ice.
The Islanders rushed Bailey from junior to the NHL, I don't think you will find anyone within the organization who disagrees with that statement. In his first two NHL seasons, he has looked physically (and at times mentally) overmatched. However, he added some size and strength over this past summer, and so far he has been playing with a lot more confidence and purpose. He has the ability to play both center and left wing, which boosts his fantasy value. He did increase his goal total from nine in 2008-09 to 16 last season. He is more known for his playmaking abilities, and if the first couple of games of this season are any indication, Bailey is back on track as a solid young player with a bright future.
Because of his style of play (reliable defensively, strong playmaker, a leader, not big or fast but very smart), he was compared to Joe Sakic during his final year with the Windsor Spitfires. Bailey won’t be the next Sakic, but in terms of playing style it isn’t a bad one. He brings a nice counterbalance to the goal-scoring John Tavares, and the two will form a strong one-two punch down the middle for the next decade.
One year upside: 20 goals, 55 points
Three year upside: 25 goals, 70 points
I first noticed Comeau when he skated on Canada’s top line at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Vancouver. He lined up alongside Steve Downie and Dustin Boyd. Comeau isn’t the type of player to make highlight reel plays, but he understands the game – and his role – very well. He is a strong skater, has decent size, and he thinks the game very well. The most goals he has scored at any level is 24 (back in the WHL with Kelowna), but he had 17 last season. With Okposo out, he immediately becomes a consistent member of the top six forward group for the Islanders.
I have previously compared Derek Stepan to Paul Stastny. Both are well-rounded players who slip under the radar because of their lack of flash. Comeau isn’t a similar player in terms of position or playing style, but like those two he has flown under the radar throughout his career because of his steady, reliable style of play (and because of the fact that he plays for the Islanders).
With Okposo out for a few months, look for Comeau to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
One-year upside: 20 goals, 50 points
Three-year upside: 25 goals, 60 points
Parenteau played well enough last season to earn the trust of John Tortorella – no easy feat. The Islanders signed him this season, as Parenteau probably saw what another overlooked AHL star (Matt Moulson) did last season. Like many other offensive stars at the AHL level, skating has been the main issue that has kept him out of the NHL. With the Islanders, he will be given ice time in the proper situations for him to excel (power play). Through the first two games of the season, he is playing close to 30% of his shifts on a line with Comeau and Bailey.
He has a one-way deal and the Islanders don’t strike me as a team willing to pay NHL money to a player in the AHL. Look for Parenteau to stick around all season. Here is an interesting quote from Moulson: “You look at that league, and that guys that do unbelievable year-by-year, they never seem to get that shot," Moulson said. "All you need is one person to believe in you, and the sky's the limit. That's kind of what happened with me last year. They took a shot on me. Who would have thought it'd work out the way it did? You just have to work on your game and not let yourself get frustrated. I think that's what probably keeps a lot of guys in the AHL.”
One-year upside: 20 goals, 45 points
Three-year upside: 25 goals, 55 points
The tenacious Dane had a very strong 2009-10 season for Long Island. He is a strong two-way player with great speed. If he continues to improve like he has over the past two seasons, he could emerge as one of the better defensive centers in the league in a few years. With his quickness and creativity with the puck he is able to create offense as well. Because of his defensive abilities, he probably won’t get the offensive minutes at even strength, but he moves the puck well and he will be a part of one of the power play units for the Islanders this season.
One-year upside: 15 goals, 45 points
Three-year upside: 20 goals, 50 points
Wisniewski will get the opportunity to be the number one defenseman in New York this season. He has battled injury, due in large part to his playing style. He loves to hit and get involved physically on a consistent basis (just ask Jamie Benn or Brent Seabrook). He also has a huge shot and is a solid puck mover on the power play. He scored seven goals and added 103 penalty minutes back in 2007-08 with Chicago. Last season with the Ducks, he had 30 points in only 69 games. Look for him to approach 40 points and 100 penalty minutes on Long Island this season. He scored a combined 35 goals in his final two OHL seasons with Plymouth. 10-15 isn’t unrealistic considering the kind of power play time he will be getting, as well as the role it looks like he will play (the shooter).
One-year upside: 12 goals, 45 points
Three-year upside: 12 goals, 45 points