With the great success of the Lighthouse Conference past us, it’s time for the speculative fun to begin. Here at New York Hockey Net, I can tell you that the minds are drying with topics to write about as the hottest days of August arrive. Here, and everywhere around the league, it is a sure-fire bet that you will start seeing speculative pieces about the thirty respective teams and their line-ups for the upcoming season.
That being said, I am here today to provide a quick view into how I feel the Islanders will look come opening night against the Pittsburgh Penguins in terms of line-up. While Garth Snow may not be done with roster moves, I will utilize the current roster at hand to provide my opinion of how I feel the Islanders will look.
Today I will be analyzing the first and second line for the upcoming season, and the upcoming blog will be taking a look at lines three and four. The last blog, which will be up by weeks’ end, will take a glance into the Islanders defense. If you have any disagreements, please give me your take on how you feel the lines will look.
: John Tavares, Center
: Doug Weight, Right Wing
: Trent Hunter
: I wholeheartedly believe that the Islanders, like the Pittsburgh Penguins did with Crosby, will play John Tavares on the wing to at least start the season. Although tremendously talented from the offensive blue line in, Tavares still has plenty of work to do on the rest of his game. To be fair, it is hard for any player to jump straight into the defensive side of the game as an NHL center, and we must give John the opportunity to develop properly. He will do very well playing wing, and Doug Weight will be a great mentor, and a great player passing him the puck.
: There is no doubt that Weight will be the number one center next year. After an exceptional season that was cut somewhat short by several injuries, I believe Weight will return to his great form and be a great player for Tavares to develop under. Besides his speed and solid 5 on 5 player, Weight will contribute nicely on the power play as well.
: Somewhat of a surprise to be on the first line, however, I think Gordon will make sure that he provides some sort of physical presence on a line with Tavares. Known for his solid work along the boards and a grittier edge to his game, Hunter will be a great compliment to a line that features a pure passer and a pure goal scorer. Besides the gritty part of his game, Hunter can also knock back 20-plus a season when given the opportunity. If you know of a more physical Islander in the line-up with the skill to score some goals, please let me know.
: Sean Bergenheim, Center
: Joshua Bailey, Right Wing
: Kyle Okposo
: I really liked what I saw coming from Bergenheim last season when he entered into his little hot streak. Although very slow at developing, I do believe Bergenheim has a tremendous amount of talent, and he has second-line winger written all over him. If he can put on a few more pounds, work on his touch a little, and continue hitting everything he says with his phenomenal forecheck, the Islanders will have a great second-line left wing. There is no reason he can’t score twenty goals, and now he just needs to prove it to himself. With a growing playmaker like Bailey in the middle, he will be given more opportunity to score.
: For those of you who have not seen Bailey at his numerous public appearances this summer, the kid has easily put on at least 10-15 pounds in muscle. He looks much bigger than he did last year, and it looks like he will be able to endure the physical abuse a player takes in the NHL. With a great set of hands and vision, Bailey is an ideal playmaker in the mold of Doug Weight. After getting one year in the NHL under his belt, it will be a pleasure to watch him play an increased role in the Islanders rebuild next to Bergenheim and Okposo. If all goes well, Bailey could put up at least 30 assists this year, with the potential for much more in future seasons. I would also keep the expectations for his goal output in the 10-15 range, as he still needs to prove he knows when to shoot and when to pass.
: Another one of the gem’s of the rebuild, Okposo showed his ability to break a game open with his skill and power last season. After another year of experience, Okposo will be coming to Islanders camp ready to prove he is the best forward on the Islanders, and he may very well do so. Gifted with a large frame, good skating, and a great shot, Okposo will be a member of the rebuild for a long time. After last year’s offensive production and demonstration of skill, it is safe to say the Islanders will be relying on him to score at least 25 goals this season. Anything less would be somewhat of a disappointment, and anything more would show he is really growing exceptionally well. With a place on the first power play unit all but secured next to Tavares, Weight, Bailey, and Streit, it is safe to say he will be given plenty of opportunity to put up big points.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the update on lines three and four. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email them to me at [email][email protected]
New York Hockey Net