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I have been on various blog websites and no matter which one I read there seems to be one similarity, write-off the Islanders. This blog will explore why other fans in the NHL (even some Isles fans) are doing so prematurely.

Gone from the team this year are the following players: Yashin (buyout), Blake (FA), Smyth (FA), Kozlov (FA), Poti (FA), Robataille (FA), Asham (FA), Hill (FA), Zednik (FA), and Dunham (FA). Added to the mix are the following players: Guerin, Comrie, Fedetenko, Vasicek, Sim, Sutton, Dubielewicz, and Bergenheim. Because of the extreme make-over of the team, most analysts have written this team off. They state you cannot replace the scoring that was lost, or the heart and soul players. The coach, Ted Nolan is why I think you can.

After being shutout of the NHL for 9 years, Nolan finally got his chance with the Islanders last year. He suprised the NHL by taking the team to playoffs on the last shot of the regular season, only to lose to the Sabres in a tough 5 game series. But more importantly, Nolan and GM Snow have now had 2 years to mold the team into the vision they share. Yashin had to go, so they took an expensive buyout option. The proof that Yashin was replacable is that no NHL team thought he was worth over 2 million a year! This is clearly addition by subtraction. Blake and Kozlov also were top 5 scorers on the Isles, but in my opinion were defensive liabilites. So the Isles "committee" did not value them the way the teams that signed them did. Poti, who was horrible on the Rangers in 2005-06 had a very good year (possible his best) and was rewarded by the Caps for it. The committee again thought the price was too high, so they let Poti walk. Smyth was offered slightly more money to sign here, but choose to go back to the Western Conference and an apparent powerhouse in Colorado. So after the first 3 days of free agency, the state of Isles was very much up in the air.

Then Snow got to work. He signed Jon Sim, a tough checking, character type player that works hard. He has scored 17 goals in each of the past 2 years in a limited role on the Thrashers. Ruslan Fedetenko was signed. He might have been the Bolt's MVP during their Cup run a couple of years ago, but had fallen out of favor in Tortorello's mix. Bill Guerin and Mike Comrie were then signed on the same day. Guerin was named captain and should be a great leader this year as he battles every night, and Comrie will get his shot at a #1 center spot. True he has not proven he is worthy of being a # 1 center yet, but he is an upgrade over Yashin either way. Finally Snow added Sutton and Vasicek. Sutton should solidify the defense with his shot-blocking and hard hitting style (yes, he has been undisciplined at times in his career, but so was Witt prior to Nolan's coaching). And the Isles took a chance on Vasicek, who has underperformed the past two seasons. Vasicek will be playing with a good friend in Radek Martinek on the Isles. What is interesting is the flexibility the Isles management has created. Fedetenko, Comrie, and Vasicek are on 1 year deals. Basically prove your worth or you will be replaced.

Players the Islanders have controlled and that are out to prove their worth this season are Hunter, Satan, Gervais, Bergenheim, Martinek, Meyer, and Dubielewicz. All of these players are playing for new contracts next year. That makes for 10 players looking to prove that they are worthy of a bigger role and more money next season.

The Islanders lines should break down to something like this:
Line 1 Fedetenko-Comrie-Guerin
Line 2 Bergenheim-Vasicek-Satan
Line 3 Sim-Sillinger-Hunter
Line 4 Simon/Hilbert-Bates/Park-Tambellini or any combo of the 5
Each line should work extremely hard, and be able to provide offensive opportunities. I look for Fedetenko, Comrie, Guerin, Satan, Sillinger, and Hunter to put in 20+ goals a piece. While Bergenheim, Vasicek, and Sim should be capable of 15- 20 goals a piece.

The defense will look like this:
D #1 Witt-Martinek
D #2 Sutton-Bergeron
D #3 Campoli-Gervais

The big question is who will be the PP QB. Right now that job seems to be going to Campoli, but let us let Nolan figure that one out in pre-season.

And of course there is up and coming goaltender Rick Dipietro. He is the rock of the team, and he must stay healthy for this team to compete. Dubielewicz is a capable backup, but he will be exposed if he is played too much. Snow also signed Joey MacDonald as a backup this off-season.

The Islanders have several good prospects for the future; On offense Kyle Okposo, Rhett Rakhshani, Franz Neilson, Sean Bentivoglio, Jeremy Colliton, Masi Marjamaki, Maxim Gratchev, and Justin Bourne. On defense Dustin Kohn, Aaron Johnson, Andrew MacDonald, and Matthew Spiller. Stefan Ridderwall had an outstanding season in a U20 Swedish league in goal.

While the Islanders have what many will consider to be a no-frills type lineup, I expect this team to make it to the playoffs again, and this time actually win a round or two. The key will be hard work, sticking to the system, and cutting down the amount of penalties against. But clearly from management on down, there are many players in Islander land that have to prove themselves this year, and the hockey world and it's critics counting them out again is just the fuel needed to get this team rolling in the right direction again. Drop the puck already!
Filed Under:   Islanders   preview  
August 21, 2007 12:45 AM ET | Delete
I'm excited to see how such an overhauled team will play. Guerin and Comrie are solid, as is Sutton. Sim will do his job well and maybe Fedotenko will thrive in a new environment. I like your lines but I would switch Vasicek and Sillinger. Vasicek's speed is suspect and he wouldn't be able to keep up with Bergenheim and Satan. He would be better with a checking-cycling line. If he fits well he can put up numbers, but he tends to be a streaky player. I think the Atlantic Division is going to be a surprise any way you look at it, considering the overhaul to Philly, the huge additions to the Rangers, the losses to Jersey, and the additions to Pitt.
August 21, 2007 4:29 AM ET | Delete
I truly hope that the Fishsticks are in the race for a playoff spot come March, that way they can trade away another 3-4 highly regarded prospects, as well as some first round draft picks, for someone good who will leave them as soon as FA begins.It would've been nice to still have Chara, McCabe, Luongo, Spezza....should I go on.But hey, at least you've got DP locked up 'till he's 48.
August 21, 2007 9:27 AM ET | Delete
The Islanders made the playoffs by a hair last season with a significantly better and more experienced group of players. They'll finish at best 10th in the east.
August 21, 2007 10:05 AM ET | Delete
I agree with kriegk. As much as I hate the Isles, I love to watch them play us. The games are intense, and the crowd gets so into it. Unfortunately, I think you guys lost too much in the off season. You still have DP, and the edition of Guerin will not hurt, but losing Smyth and your top scorer will definitely be felt.I'm still looking forward to our series.
August 21, 2007 10:42 AM ET | Delete
All the hype around the Islanders this year, isn't well deserved.
August 21, 2007 10:49 AM ET | Delete
I seem to remember many of the same comments last year and the year before that, and the year before that....etc. As for the one constructive comment by Canes, switching Sillinger for Vasicek might have to happen. But Sillinger's line was in charge of shutting down the other teams top line, which they did quite effectively. That is why I would be hesitant to switch that group (Hunter
August 21, 2007 10:57 AM ET | Delete
wasnt comrie the 3rd or 4th line center in ottawa and you have him as your first line center!...i think your team will be good but he is in my opinion at best a second line center
August 21, 2007 12:01 PM ET | Delete
I wish non-Islander fans had the least bit of knowledge b4 u talk about our team. We didnt lose 2 much in the offseason. Its funny how every1 praises the isles team from last year now, after predicting we'd finish 15th in the conf. The players that were brought in are much better than what was lost. If it were this years FA period and the isles brought in Yashin, Blake, Kozlov, Poti, Asham, and Hill....i can only imagine what would be said. And stop with Ryan Smyth b/c we made it through the whole year w/o him...he didnt even play a quarter of a season w/ us.
August 21, 2007 1:49 PM ET | Delete
Dynasty4 said it best.....Smyth was a late addition. Didn't we beat the Rags all season long without him? Actually we didn't lose to the rags UNTIL we got Smyth. Smyth would still be an Islander today if it wasn't for the fact (and he said this publicly) that he wanted to be on the West Coast to be closer to his family, which didn't want to leave Edmonton. He chose Colorado because he's really good friends with Sakic. He's never said anything bad about Long Island and actually told one of the new guys (i forgot which one) that it was a great place to play. That player ended up signing with the Isles.Now back to the Rags, every year you guys brag about how many "star" players you bought during the off season, and every year they don't live up to their true potiential. On paper, the Rags offense is set to be a monster this year, but compaired to seasons past their destined to underachieve. Do you Ranger fans ever sit down, turn off the Islander blogs on your computer, and actually take a good look at your defense?!?!?!?!?!? Your O needs to score at least 5 a game to win. Do you have that much confindence in Gomez and Drury? Forget Jagr....the only thing he's good for is to draw penalties. He draws a call everytime someone looks at him. I don't think the Rangers are going to mesh as well as some might think they should. I'm honestly more scared of Pitt and Philly then the Rags. If the Isles do end up as basement dwellers we're going to have the Rags as company.
August 21, 2007 3:03 PM ET | Delete
Ahh we all knew we would get some sort of witty comment, leave it to NYRFAN 9, I am surprised you do not write for The Hockey News. As for the blog, great insight on the team. The Islanders will be a good team this year, are they a 1-3 seed...more then likely not but they have as good a chance to finish 4-8 as anyone else. The Islanders will roll 4 solid lines, they have 6 solid defensmen in Witt, Sutton, MAB, Martinek, Gervais, and Campoli. Rico is as solid as they come back in the net. This should be an interesting year, I am really looking fwd to having someone like Guerin wear the C as opposed to Yashin for a change. Would love nothing more then to see the Islanders play the Rangers in the ECF. If the NHL needs anything to boost its ratings that series would do it.
August 21, 2007 3:46 PM ET | Delete
Isles will do just fine this season. I laugh when I see a Ranger fan type about anything on here. Rags are going on a spending spree and you know where it's going to get them.... NOWHERE! Morons. Isles finish 6th in the East in 07/08.
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