For the overwhelming majority of the season the Islanders played their back-up and third string goaltenders, Joey MacDonald and Yann Danis. DP's injury forced him to pretty much sit out the entire season allowing these two net-minders to have a quality chance at proving themselves at the NHL level. But which one will be back next year to serve the role that was initially intended for this year?
...or will neither one have that second opportunity?
You have to wonder what this team is going to look like next year. The team just won the first overall pick and will likely draft a franchise player in Tavares or Hedman; Kyle Okposo and Sean Bergenheim are emerging as gritty goal scorers; and Streit, their PP all-star defenseman, has helped Bruno Gervais increase his ability to play the game. Is this a playoff team? Most likely not...but can we expect them to be more competitive next year? Considering this year's strong finish I would like to think so, but a lot will depend on the goaltending.
There's no denying that DiPietro can carry this team when needed. Look at where the Isles were before the all-star break last year and look at how they dropped there after. MacDonald and Danis both looked brilliant at times, especially Danis towards the end of the season. He drastically elevated his game to go from third string goalie to temporary NHL starter. Let's also not forget that Joey MacDonald won the honors for save of the year which was one of many in his shut out victory over his former team, the Detroit Red Wings.
But both goalies seemed to weaken down the stretch despite these examples of strong play. Some may argue, what does it matter? Fans wanted the first overall pick and the team wasn't going anywhere fast anyway.
So wrong. There was a lot at stake for these two guys. With the season coming to a close the Isles had two goalies competing for a job; either the back-up role with this team for next year, or to increase their attractiveness for a spot somewhere else on this summer's market. With that in mind, it is very discouraging to see that the team went 3-11-1 in the final fifteen games of the year. That's a huge drop considering the team was above .500 with a 12-9-3 record from the end of January to the beginning of March.
So, do either one of these goalies have the ability to fill in next year for Ricky as the back-up? The coaching staff and management have to assume that DP will be out at some point again next year. Although that may be unfair to DP to think so negatively, he has missed A LOT of playing time over the past two years due to injuries that seem to never have properly healed or have continued to resurface.
When it comes to injuries, this team has to be ready for anything.
With that being said, I think Joey Mac and Yann will be looking elsewhere for a place to play next season and I expect Garth to find a veteran back-up that is capable of carrying a team if necessary.
Although they are both good-natured and professional athletes, both who of which would stick around the locker room for questions even after the cameras were gone, I think I see the Isles heading in a different direction.