Monday, January 25, 2010

Isles Should Believe

Phil Coffey of NHL.com:

In 1973, a pro team that played on Long Island rallied around the battle cry "You Gotta Believe!"
That was the late Tug McGraw and the New York Mets. Flash forward to 2010 and the team is the New York Islanders
Click the title for the full story. If there was ever a time to believe, it's now. The Islanders are going to be in the thick of this playoff race well into March, probably April. As long as this teams remains healthy, they will most certainly be competing.

 

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Why is Bruno Gervais Trade Bait?

Since the trade deadline is getting closer (could be closer to before the Olympics), Islanders fans are already rushing to get a few players off the team and make some moves. I have said this before many times, rumors are mostly for entertainment value, except for maybe say the final three weeks before the actual deadline. However there was one player a lot of people would like to see traded by the Islanders, Bruno Gervais.

Of course after researching yet again, I would like to point out a few reasons why Gervais should NOT be traded. Here we go. What I have found was that Scott Gordon does have a place for Bruno on the defense. It's just not as high as the fans expect him to be. When Gervais was first drafted, many thought that with time he could blossom into a top four role. After a few years, he's only noted as a puck moving defenseman and maybe a 5th or 6th defenseman. To most fans, that is a disappointment. But let's go over the numbers shall we?

I asked this question around to other knowledgeable fans: At what age should most defenseman reach there "Potential?" I received a great response Angelica Rodriguez (whom by the way, if you're not following her, you're missing out on great Islanders coverage Twitter: @islesrebelangel) saying:

"See, I don't think there should be a set age for anyone to reach potential. Everyone develops at a diff speed. There's also the organization and the farm system to consider. All of that, plus injuries, etc., can either harm or help development of any player. I think they just overplay him because we don't have reliable D outside of Streit and (most of the time) Sutton... though Hillen & Mac Donald are developing very nicely."

That ladies and gents is the essence of Bruno Gervais' struggles come from. Now let's see if numbers lie. In terms of coming up with a basline, I just looked at how many minutes a game Bruno was playing and decided to go with a median of 17 minutes per game. So what I wanted to know was how well Gervais played when it was games below 17 and in games above 17 minutes.

Statistically, when playing in less than 17 minutes a game Bruno has 1 goal and 4 points and has a +/- rating of a +1. When Bruno plays more than 17 minutes, he has 0 goals and 6 points with a +/- rating of a -7. So this is a good thing right? Hold on, there's more. When Gervais plays in less than 17 minutes a game, the Islanders are 9-9-1. When he plays more than 17 minutes a game,the Islanders are 12-7-1.

So what do you do with him? Well this goes back to what Angelica mentioned before, the progression of Hillen and MacDonald. Both players are taking over the minutes to offset injured players or players like Gervais who just might have been playing too much and both MacDonald and Hillen are looking like mainstays on the blue line. So where does Gervais fit. Simple. Gervais for now, is a number 5 defenseman who can play top 4 minutes when asked upon to do so.

Should Gervais be traded? No way. As long as the Islanders defense remains healthy, Gervais will continue to play around the 17 minute mark and improve defensively, giving the Islanders a tough three pair rotation. If Gervais can get on the score sheet more often, all the more reason to believe he is not trade bait and an intricate part of this team. He will only get better from here.

I would highly recommend going to Angelica's site NYIslesScene and also follow her on twitter as she is certainly one of the more knowledgeable Islanders fan/blogger you will find and I thank her for her contribution to this blog.

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Quick Tribute To Mike Peca

Michael Peca, a 35-year-old forward who spent 13 seasons in the National Hockey League and helped Canada to 2002 Olympic gold, retired after as one of the top two-way forwards in the NHL.
"I'm not sad by any means," Peca said. "Several months ago, I came to the decision I wasn't going to play anymore. Today's really just a day that I made a public statement. For me, it was so every time I run into old friends, they quit asking me if I'm done or not. "Now they've got the answer," he said. "It's kind of like a mass e-mail."

Peca is a two-time winner of the Selke trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward. He was privileged to call himself an Olympic champion, however in his opinion, his greatest satisfaction came from the two great Cup runs in Buffalo in 1999 and Edmonton in 2006.

"Even though the Olympic gold medal was the one where I was fortunate enough to be successful, the Stanley Cup runs were actually more fruitful for me from the emotional standpoint," Peca said. "This is guys that have slugged it out for five, six months and now we've got to go another two months together to try and accomplish the greatest prize."

Peca had 176 goals and 465 points while he played 864 games with the Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres,New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets.

For me personally, I will always remember Peca as a Buffalo Sabre first and then an Islander. But 2002 was nothing short of magical and in that playoff series against Toronto, Peca really got the Islanders back in the spot light. Islanders fans will always have a reason to hate Darcy Tucker, as much as Sabres fans still probably dislike Brett Hull. In my opinion, there has not been an Islander, current or since, yet to replace Mike and I do hope that Peca at least makes it into Buffalo's Hall of Fame.

If there is a word to describe Mike Peca it would be leader. No, he did not guarantee a win. No, he did not score a hat trick to physically motivate his team, but he did lead by example. When Peca talked, other teammates listened and followed and when teams like Buffalo and Edmonton, teams then that were not supposed to be in the Stanley Cup Finals, you can look at each roster down the list and everyone will agree that Peca is a big reason why they made it.

No, Peca did not score often, but he did not have to. Being a solid two-way player is sometimes a lost art in the NHL, and Mike Peca was certainly one of the best.



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Islanders Tame Panthers 2-1 in SO

 

 

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thompson Claimed By Lightning

According to Newsday, Nate Thompson did indeed get claimed by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Per Katie Strang:

Just saw Nate Thompson, rushing to get his gear and catch a flight. He got claimed by Tampa Bay. Best of luck to Thompson, who was a hard-worker, great teammate and an awesome person.
I agree, but I think because there were just too many spots on this team, and Thompson having a two-way contract, he was the first to go. He will certainly be missed on the face-offs. Good luck to him.

 

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Could Kovalchuk Be An Islander?

After yesterdays rumor that the Islanders would be in the running for Atlanta's sniper Ilya Kovalchuk,  I wanted to do some research to see if there really could be any validity to it. Turns out, as of today, my answer is false. I do not believe the Islanders will pursue Kovalchuk now. However, if certain things happen before now and March 3rd, the Islanders would be very close to being trading partners. Please allow me to explain.

According to yesterdays NY Post report, the Islanders have the cap space and prospects to make a trade for Kovalchuk, improving both the the on-ice product and improving the overall value of the team should Charles Wang want to sell the team. It was also stated that Kovalchuk would like to remain with the Thrashers for the rest of his career. While Newsday reported that the Islanders have a plan in store, it does not however, include Kovalchuk. Newsday also reported that according to their source, a deal like that is "slim to none."

So why is Kovalchuk available in the first place? When first doing research for this article, it was believed that he was asking for 12 years, 120 million dollars. That's 10 million per year. After doing some extra reading, the asking price right now seems to be at 11 million dollars. The problem here is that Atlanta ownership may not be able to afford such a high and lengthy contract. With attendance very low this year, ownership is still debating whether or not to resign their franchise player.

So assume for the moment that Garth Snow is just going to be quiet, deny rumors, and we're going to once again speculate that if the Islanders are in the hunt for Kovalchuk, what other teams would be battling for his services? From what I could read from it appears that Boston, LA, Chicago, Detroit, and Vancouver are all in the mix. Now let's bring in reality to get rid of some rumored teams. Chicago is on top in the Western Conference and just signed a guy by the name of Hossa during last summer, chemistry is good, so scratch off Chicago. Detroit will never go after a rental like Kovalchuk and when Detroit begins to get players back will be a force as a 7th or 8th seed. I'm sorry Vancouver fans, but every time a big player is mentioned in rumors your team is always mentioned, so for now I'm not sold on the Canucks.

This leaves us with the LA Kings, Boston Bruins and the Islanders. If you're Don Waddell who would you rather trade with right now? The Kings have players that Waddell would want, can still have Atlanta win now and resign all, if any, to new affordable contracts and still be able to build the team in the off-season. Or perhaps Waddell should look into the Boston Bruins. I'm sure getting a decent player and a prospect and say Toronto's first round pick could be enough to entice Waddell. Imagine Atlanta having Taylor Hall join the likes of Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Enstrom, Little, Peverley and even Antropov. I would not feel sorry for Atlanta then.

But that folks is the Islanders problem when trying to acquire someone like Kovalchuk. They don't/won't give up certain players, because they don't have enough of them yet, nor do they have a high draft pick this year. So why am I even including the Islanders in this mix for Kovulchuk? Two words: Ryan Smyth. In 2007 the Islanders traded there first round pick in 2007, Robert Nilsson and Ryan O'Marra for Ryan Smyth, a last second deadline deal that gave Garth Snow a big pat on the back and instantly gave the Islanders credibility. If deals with LA and Boston don't pan out, and the deadline is near, don't be surprised if the Islanders are patiently waiting for Atlanta to call. But make no mistake, the Olympic trade freeze is from February 12th-28th. If Kovalchuk is not traded and/or Atlanta is out of the playoff race, the Islanders should be in the race for him, and should not have to be giving up the farm.

My final thought is this, if Atlanta is still in the playoff hunt, Kovalchuk will not be traded.....period. The Islanders right now have been winning more often and have the depth to go deep into the playoff race. They will need to make a few moves, but they don't need to make a splash like Kovalchuk to get into the playoffs, because quite frankly, the teams in front of them (with the exception to Philly) really are playing lousy hockey. There are just too many holes to other teams right now, that if the Islanders make a balanced trade, they have a great shot getting in, without having to give much up.


 

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Isles Interested in Kovi?

From Larry Brooks of the NY Post:


The other team in town is big-game hunting. Islanders' GM Garth Snow has checked in with the Thrashers about the availability of marquee all-star left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, leaving the message with Atlanta GM Don Waddell that the team intends to be in the mix if the impending unrestricted free agent is placed on the trade market, The Post has learned from a well-placed source.

Kovalchuk, who is believed seeking a 12-year contract in the neighborhood of $120 million, has stated his preference to finish his career in Atlanta, but the cash-poor Thrashers' ownership may be unable or unwilling to commit to a deal that, in essence, comes close to equaling the value of the franchise.

My take: I'm going to move further into this sooner because there is the Olympic break coming up soon, and there will be a trade freeze with very little room to make deals between February 28th and March 3rd. To know that the Islanders are players for Kovalchuk is huge for this organization and its fans and the Islanders must look into this scenario. More to come.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Islanders Will Be Making Moves

With the news of Brendan Witt going on the IR this afternoon, it means that for now the Islanders do not have to make any roster changes at this time. However, make no mistake, the Islanders will be making moves. That right, more than one player will be leaving the Islanders before the trade deadline. But when Witt does return from the IR, who will go? To be honest it doesn't matter. What matters is what the Islanders get in return.

With Rick DiPietro now playing as backup and Roloson starting until he is beaten out of the number one position, the obvious player to be traded is Martin Biron. I have written about it in the past, and from what I've been reading from different blogs, papers etc, is that his value is worth a third round draft pick, but that doesn't mean it has to be a pick, it could also be a player who has third round value as well. Here is my reasoning.

The Islanders currently sit tenth in the Eastern Conference, two points out of playoff contention and they're getting better. They do not have a few games in hand, but the teams ahead of them have there own problems so if there is a continuation of bad luck for teams like Philly, Ottawa, the Rangers and Montreal, the Islanders could squeak in there without making any moves at all. However, if any of these teams go on a legitimate run, say a 4 game winning streak, then in my opinion, the Islanders would not have enough talent to be able to keep up, hence making a trade for a "third round" player may be enough to keep pace till the end of the season. Or is it?

Trading Biron for a defenceman would be nice for most Islanders fans and I'm sure that would lead to one or possibly two being moved, so fans should expect that to happen. If Biron is traded for another forward with a little more size would also be a welcoming sight, but that also means possibly waiving or moving another player in the same or different deal. Either way, it is clear that one or more will be going.

Finally, say the Islanders don't have a chance at the playoffs. Let the fire sale of the veterans begin. For now, this is my hypothetical rumor mill if the Islanders are out of contention by trade deadline day. I hear Pittsburgh is having trouble with their powerplay, anyone want Doug Weight? I'm sure Bill Geurin would make a nice  pitch for is old buddy. How about the Devils? They usually go after some depth when they believe they could go deep in the playoffs. How about reuniting Richard Park to his old Minnesota Wild coach Lemaire. Maybe. Even Jon Sim has a Stanley Cup ring and experience (with no contract for next year....bigger plus) that might entice somebody.

Here is my final say on the possible moves the Islanders could make. For now, it is a good thing to have an abundance of players on your team because when injuries occur, there is someone ready to play and fill in. If the Islanders do or don't continue to make a push for the playoffs, the bottom line is this: by the time the deadline is over, the Islanders will be improved. The Islanders may be improved immediately or for the future, either way you look at it, multiple players could be gone, some will arrive and the Islanders will be a better team for it.

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Isles Survive Phoenix


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Isles Fall To Dallas In DP's Return


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Friday, January 08, 2010

Biron Is The Odd Man Out

According to Dan Martin of the NY Post:

Since Roloson has been the team's best player this year and DiPietro needs ice time, that likely means that Biron is on the odd man out. GM Garth Snow could trade Biron, but his recent struggles would make it difficult to get anything of significance in return.




Thursday, January 07, 2010

Islanders Must Win Next Two Games

***Update*** DiPietro will start against the Stars tonight. I do not like this move at all. More to come later.

The Islanders continue their trip on the road with games against Dallas and a final stop to Phoenix. After a glorious win by Roloson and the Isles, many are speculating that Rick DiPietro, finally recovered from injuries, may and should get a start in one of the next two games. I completely disagree. Allow me to explain.

I'm sure as most fans by now have seen or are looking at the standings and seeing that the Islanders are back to the NHL .500 mark. That is the good news. The better news is that the teams ahead of the Islanders are not doing as well or should be playing better then the Isles.

So where's the bad news? The Isles might start DiPietro. Don't get me wrong, no one is more thrilled to see DP come back then me. However, if the islanders truly want to make a run at the playoffs or become this years big spoilers (as I have predicted), then Roloson needs to play in as many games as possible, even if that means playing in the next two. I'll even take Biron over DiPietro right now because, let's face it, he hasn't played an NHL game in a little over a year. Let him earn his way back in practice to get a back up start, and go from there.

You can't tell me that DP will play better than Biron with the offense in front of him, the same offense that produces an 1.8 goals for average for Biron. There is no way in hell DP, coming back in his first game, will allow 1 goal or less. He couldn't do that even when he's healthy. If the Isles truly want to win, play Biron for now.

There will come a time when Biron will be traded and DP will get his starts, but the offense must start coming together now and score to really support the goaltending. Fans are starting to see some improvement in players that should have been scoring earlier in the season, but are only now starting to show signs of getting out of there slump/growing pains. I can't see the Islanders winning a lot of one goal games the rest of this season, not the way they give goals back in the third periods.

The other teams ahead of the Islanders do not have three goalies that could be starters elsewhere. The Islanders must win the next two games to really start getting into the minds of other teams because lets face it, the other teams are not performing as well as they should and the Islanders must take advantage of this opportunity. Playing DP on this road trip is not taking advantage of what the Islanders could have after this weekend, nervous team.


Isles Beat Avs 3-2




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