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"Off The Post: Inching Closer to the Future"
Long Island, NY • United States • 25 Years Old • Male
Every Isles fan and hockey fan by now has to have come to a complete understanding in regards to this dismal year for the blue and orange. This season was designed to ignite a maturation process for all the young, inexperienced players; to learn from mistakes, to understand the game, yada yada yada. But in a youth movement, there are supposed to be signs of progress. Each year should be a little better than the last; a sign that the movement is heading in the right direction of becoming a playoff contender, and I don't know if I see that happening.

Scott Gordon has announced to the media and his players that the remaining half of the season will provide the younger players an opportunity to step up and take hold of the roster spots that are laid out before them. In my opinion, I think it will be a long 40 games. Players such as Comeau and Okposo went on a recent point scoring stretch which has died down slightly over the past few games. But can anyone on this team expect otherwise? Players such as Bergenheim, Gervais, and Tambellini are having a hard time finding a niche on this roster. They may play every game and get decent minutes, but they have yet to take the next step.

I am not criticizing these players or suggesting that they can't hack it at the NHL level. This season hasn't been a total waste or lost cause. On several occasions these players have dished out flashy moves or scored important goals...a comfort level seems to be increasing for them, but it's not complete.

So what's missing?

That one player that this team can revolve around. Doug Weight and Bill Guerin are excellent leaders on and off the ice, but they don't provide that scoring punch this team needs. Technically no one does, and although Gordon is expecting the younger guys to elevate their playing level, I don't expect Okposo, Comeau, or Bailey to suddenly go on a scoring tear. Many will say that Tavares may be that player if he's drafted by the Isles. First overall is looking more and more like a guarantee. The Isles are very capable of shocking us and trading down that pick or selecting someone else that they had wanted along...I sure as hell hope neither of these scenarios take place, but what I am saying is that fans should not get their hopes up that Tavares is definitely joining us next year. Keep in mind that the Blackhawks got Patrick Kane because of the draft lottery. They went from 5th to 1st. Anything can happen.

Even if the Isles draft Tavares, his development can take some time. He's not going to be Sidney Crosby and light up the NHL in his first year. He may do very well and put up more points than any of the other recently drafted players that we have, but there really is no telling. Take a look at Stamkos for instance. All things take time.

So then what do the Isles do?

The next logical option would be to make one or two big free-agent signings...but put yourself in a UFA's shoes. You are ready to cash in big, preferably with a winning team. The Isles have money to spend, but would you want to sign with a team that may be moving in the next three years? Wang says that he has no intent of moving this team, but it's impossible for anyone to ignore the scary possibility that surrounds the Islanders future. It seems that it is almost inevitable for Wang to keep this team if the Lighthouse Project doesn't pass. There are lot of question marks floating around Islander Limbo, and that may be enough to scare away any potential stars from signing with the Isles, which brings me to my point.

This terrible season may repeat next year. The Isles may not have a choice but to re-sign Doug Weight and Bill Guerin this off-season. That's not a bad thing, but it's not an improvement. Unless the young guys can really start scoring goals next year, we're going to be in for the same exact season, and that may to be much to ask of fans that are waiting and hoping for their team to be successful while they are still on Long Island. I'm not saying the Isles have to make the playoffs next year, but avoiding seven-game losing streaks would be nice, or to actually win a handful of games in a row as opposed to two or three would be a start. Maybe see a player score a hat trick? I can't remember the last time I saw one.

Garth Snow and Charles Wang have a lot of work to do with this organization and this roster if they intend to continue on to that path of rebuilding. If they repeat this season next year, that's not a rebuild. In fact, it will look like the current situation the Isles are in now with the Lighthouse Project.

Hoping for something big and exciting but getting stuck with an old, lackluster void on Long Island.

-Rob McGowan
January 18, 2009 5:18 PM ET | Delete
who has more top line point scoring potential????????? Okposo or Bailey??i think Okposo could one day become a Jarome Igingla, i probebly spelled everything wrong here so dont comment on that. i think it will take a few more years but i think next year your players will be a little more developed and wont be playing like you are this year.. kinda like how toronto turned it up a little bit this year compaired to last year.. I am a devils fan but any time the Islanders play i always route for them. this draft could possibly change the future of your team bigtime and i think it should give you somthing to look forward to. you are doing it right and it takes time.. Have you seen how Phenox Coyotes started out and how they are now.. thats from being patient. which is hard to do when you are losing but have faith... this draft will change youLETS GO ISLANDERS!!
January 18, 2009 8:27 PM ET | Delete
the islanders are supposed to be rebuilding right now, but what are they building around, bailey and okposo? these guys are nothing special at all and havnt done anything in the nhl. This team is terrible right now and its not going to get better anytime soon until they sign/trade for players who can actually lead this team for many years to come.
January 18, 2009 9:35 PM ET | Delete
pderuvo...the Islanders are rebuilding right now. Bailey and Okposo are pretty skilled rookies and can easily develop into strong future players. You rebuild through the draft, not through trading and signing. They have a lot of prospects as of now that can make it to the NHL in the future. This draft will be key because they are going to acquire a franchise player guaranteed. The Rangers gameplan of signing everyone and trading for everyone is actually going to hurt them badly, next year they are going to be a pretty much dead franchise. They are going to have under $8 million to fill 10 of the 18 roster spots that they need. You may not see it now, but after this season watch for the Rangers to begin to struggle.
January 18, 2009 11:39 PM ET | Delete
I had to stop reading your post here. I knew it would happen but your blog here is emblematic of how people are so willing to jump ship during a crappy season. The team has Okposo, Bailey, and maybe Comeau as solidly developing players. That's a start. This is the first season that they have been actually rebuilding. The team will get whoever they get in the draft and they will keep building. It is likely that they will try and get one or more prospects to come up from juniors or college and then the team will sign players so the team can stay above the cap floor. Other than that nothing will be or should be done until the 2010-2011 season. Also, the team won't be moving until 2015 unless it wants to break its lease on the Coliseum. So, the Isles should be wedded to the Island for the next 6 years. Basically, this blog is a summation of all of the bad feeling that everyone has about this season. It is likely that this season will repeat itself, but when Garth Snow said "rebuild" everyone should have at least expected that. If you want to talk about what the team should do in regards to signing players talk about what they'll do in 2010-2011.
January 19, 2009 10:41 AM ET | Delete
Dips...I think you misunderstood my blog...I am all for the youth movement. I am not pointing out all the bad parts...what I am saying is that these players are performing at the same level that they did at the start of the season. There hasn't been much improvment yet. I am not saying that they will never improve, but this team is lacking that one player to build around. Okposo and Bailey are not the franchise players that you revolve around. But on the other hand, someone like Tavares is. We may get him, but if we don't then what? And I could be wrong but I believe the last that I read was that the lease ends in 2012...with a team being speculated with the possibilty of moving in three years, who will want to sign here this year or the year after next until this thing is resolved? That was my point. If next year is the same as this year there isn't much progress. Either the younger players really need to step up and take hold of being heavily relied upon and coming through, next year will be the same.
January 19, 2009 6:48 PM ET | Delete
I usually agree with you Tops, but if you look at Pheonix and Chicago and even LA (who took a step back because their coach sucks) patience is what we need. We dont need to sign any big time free agents this offseason. We need to do it through the draft. We are a virtual lock for Tavares or Hedman. We need to be patient.I would like to see the Isles trade a Veteran to LA for one of their defensive propects, LA has a lot of guys that could be a 3rd-6th d man and who are young. We don't really have any of those guys.
January 19, 2009 7:55 PM ET | Delete
I'm not saying we need a big star either...what I see is that this team has prospects that have potential but don't have the right veterans to work with to inhibit that potential. Weight and Guerin are a good start, and if they come back next year that's not a bad thing but it's not an improvement. If they come back, a real first line center would be nice. I'd much rather watch Okposo and Comeau play on the sides of a better center than Mike Comrie, someone who doesn't skate, hit, or hustle. To me he's a poor mentor. My point is that you can't have a minor league team in the NHL and expect things to improve without a proper veteran presence. Look at the Rangers a few years ago. They had one guy - Jagr. The rest, besides Straka and Nylander, were pretty much kids with a depth guy here and there. They had a much better year than anticipated, but they all revolved around Jagr. He brought that team together and got them off to the start they needed. That's what this team is missing. I'm not saying we need to sign Gaborik or Zetterberg, but a player that can score goals and provide the type of on-ice leadership these kids need.
January 20, 2009 1:39 PM ET | Delete
Feel bad for the Islanders. Those days of battling Turgeon,Hoge, Steve Thomas are long memories. I need someone to hate again on this team! Sad to say Mike Milbury killed the team and should never open his filthy mouth again. Looking to build around players the Isles are gonna need to add to thier goaltending. I think you need to draft another blue chipper in the second round. Or start asking Vancouver what it would take to get Schneider or Halak in Montreal.
January 24, 2009 1:51 AM ET | Delete
only first year be patient
January 27, 2009 11:06 AM ET | Delete
PDuervo:Sign players?Throw money at free agents?How's that working for the Rangers?
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