I've been reading a few blogs with fans almost ready to call it a season. Personally, if you thought the Islanders were going to be in the playoffs, you were already thinking about the 2012 draft and not the 2011 Islanders. This years squad was predicted by most to hit 10th place, some where in the mid 80's possibly 90 points max. That's not enough for a playoff spot, but close. What most fans aren't seeing this year are the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who have made an impressive run so far this season (just one point behind Connecticut for the division lead and two points out of a playoff berth in their Conference) and if they continue this pace, could really go deep in the AHL playoffs.
Assuming this organization can stay healthy for half a season (asking a lot I know) the Sound Tigers would be able to make the playoffs and by NHL season's end, could bring in Nino Neiderrietter and possibly Kirill Kabanov from his junior team and you have folks, a pretty deep Bridgeport team. Think about it: Ullstrom, Rakhshani, Kirill, Nino, and a healthy Bridgeport team....Sounds good to me. Other than making a playoff run, keeping the kids down could solve the free agency problem that the Islanders seem to encounter every year.
Say Bridgeport does go deep and a few players really stick out in the AHL playoffs, what would you rather have, that player or a "should have retired 3 years ago" player that the Islanders found last summer? That's my point. Look at what happened to Ottawa. After missing the playoffs last year, they brought up the farm from Binghamton after winning the Calder Cup and now Ottawa is in strong position for the playoffs this year. That is what the Islanders are close to doing folks. All those draft picks are starting to mature and improve so the Islanders have something they haven't had in a long time.....depth. But the key is to keep them down, at least for the remainder of this year. If Bridgeport goes deep, let the players battle it out at training camp where those exhibition games would mean a great more to them.
There is a light at the end of this tunnel folks, but you have to watch it come to it's fruition first. It starts with Bridgeport, not the Islanders. But this season you should be watching both. Even if you predicted 85 points for this team and they hit 85, you have reason to be optimistic about next season because of what Bridgeport is doing now. This organization is slowly growing back to what it used to be, what we as fans all come to expect.