|How could you tell me they aren't improved?|
I know we're all anxious. The New York Islanders "need"to build off a solid season, one that saw them make the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and generate the most buzz around them since the 2001-02 season.
Again, though, relax. The Islanders will make more moves this summer. To be fair, July 5th is the day that teams start making these moves, yet the Islanders are actually ahead of the curve - they have already improved on their team that brought the first-place Penguins through six-game hell in the NHL's Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
"What do you mean, they improved?! They haven't done anything!"
That's where you're wrong, folks. The Isles haven't done anything flashy, but with a team that finished last season with the 8th-best offense in the National Hockey League, they don't have to. There is something called "addition by subtraction," and the Islanders have already gotten "better" by the moves they didn't make.
Marty Reasoner? Gone. The Islanders did not offer the two-year disappointment another deal, and he will be hitting free agency. Mark Streit? Traded. The Islanders didn't feel Streit's defensive play was worth the big money that Philadelphia was willing to give him. Rick DiPietro? Bought out. The Islanders finally pulled the plug on their fallen star, who will not count against the salary cap, and will no longer be considered the "face of the franchise" by the rest of the NHL, and hopefully EA's NHL Series.
Next up? Brock Nelson, the 2012-13 Sound Tiger's leading scorer (in fewer games than Nino), should be up with the big-club, possibly filling Reasoner's spot on the *sigh* 3rd-line. Nelson gives the Islanders a big body who can play in all three zones and on both special teams' units.
Lubomir Visnovsky should be able to fill Mark Streit's role on the team last season, while Matt Donovan can ease himself into the NHL as a 4-6 defenseman with special teams' capabilities. Donovan's play in his own end should be an upgrade over Streit's, so there lies the immediate improvement, but his 93-point AHL career should be encouraging, too.
And as already proven last season, even if it's Kevin Poulin on the ice for the Islanders, Long Island's hockey team can put a more productive (and less distracting) goalie in the crease than Rick DiPietro could ever be again for New York.
Whoops. Let's not forget the Isles' actual addition this offseason. The Islanders' traded for Cal Clutterbuck at the NHL Draft. On the outside, it looks bad - Garth traded a former 5th-overall pick for a bottom-six agitator - but Cal is more than that. Clutterbuck will be playing "playoff hockey" from the moment the puck drops until the final buzzer, finding ways to score goals while throwing the body almost every shift. Clutterbuck improves the third-line (definitely), and improves the first-line (potentially). One thing's for sure, the Islanders will be rolling four lines with a physical presence for the 2013-14.
Look, Isles' fans. The Islanders haven't made the move for a star player this offseason (yet), but do they really have to? John Tavares is the star on Long Island. At this point, the question shouldn't be adding a star player, but adding the proper supporting cast around him.
Garth's doing his job. He already pushed the bad from last season into the Atlantic, while shoring up the voids those players left. I'm sure there are other moves to come, but come on, guys. Can we at least get to tomorrow first?
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!