|Going into Year 5, Tavares is still looking for a RW.|
Probably the most significant move for the 2013-14 New York Islanders, Garth Snow added former Minnesota Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard to the roster. Bouchard, who has appeared in the second most games in Wild's history, projects to be next season's temporary fix alongside John Tavares on the team's first line.
Bouchard's contract is set for only one season, similar to that of Brad Boyes' last year. His addition to John Tavares' wing makes Bouchard the fourth right-winger (Okposo counts) in three years to lineup next to the Islanders' star centre, posing the question, "When will the Islanders find a permanent fixture alongside the franchise player?"
To those reluctant to embrace the Islanders' plan up to this point, cover your eyes. The answer will most likely be "just another disappointment."By choosing to go one more season with a stop-gap next to John Tavares, the Islanders may feel that they already have their answer for the long-term.
Ryan Strome, the Islanders' 5th-overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, is lurking in the AHL with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Upon entry into the AHL, Ryan Strome was converted from the #1-centre of the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL, to the top-line winger for the Islanders' AHL-affiliate.
In ten games, the experiment seemed to be on its way to success. Ryan Strome scored 2 goals and 5 assists in the only 10 AHL games of his career, including an AHL debut that saw him add a goal and an assist alongside fellow Isles' prospect Brock Nelson.
And yes, the concept fits under the Islanders current business plan (patience until they bring in revenue in Brooklyn), which is detested by many. Although the Islanders do recognize their need for a top-line winger now (see their interest in Bobby Ryan and Thomas Vanek), the Isles deemed it unnecessary to give up cheap assets with star potential for current players making the big money (again see Ryan, in which a deal could have cost Strome, Grabner and a 1st). As much as the Islanders could use the help now, it wouldn't make sense to pull the trigger on a deal when the Islanders could already own the piece that could fill that hole for the long-term future.
The signing of Pierre-Marc Bouchard only gives the Islanders a suitable replacement to Brad Boyes, which could buy time (if necessary) for Ryan Strome to arrive to the big club. If Strome is deemed NHL-ready in camp, I expect him to get his chance alongside Tavares. That would give the Isles' even more flexibility in the line-up, creating secondary scoring help by placing Bouchard on the team's second-line.
As I mentioned, this is probably not the answer the Garth Snow detractors want to hear. Strome may not provide the Islanders with the immediate help that a true top-line winger could provide.. The possibility remains that Strome will not even start the 2013-14 season with the Islanders, but with the Sound Tigers; however, the Islanders are developing Strome to fit next to John Tavares, and John Tavares only.
Consider Strome another home-grown piece that the Islanders intend to lock-up for the long-term in the near future. I've said it time-and-time again, but the rebuild is not over. Alongside John Tavares, though, Strome will be one of the featured pieces to end it.
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!