|Kyle Okposo will need to step up in 2013-14.|
For this edition of our Saturday Afternoon Discussion, I want us to try and pinpoint one player that the Islanders need to step up their game, so the Isles can find themselves in the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
Because Mark Streit left....
Without Mark Streit, the Islanders will be looking for somebody to step up as a point-producer from the blue-line. The obvious decision to replace Streit on the blue-line, especially during the power-play, is Lubomir Visnovsky; however, the real question posed here is "who assumes Visnovsky's responsibilities?" The Islanders success in 2013-14 will partly rely on the ability of one of their current D-men to step up in a more productive role, offensively speaking.
Perhaps Matt Donovan (48 points in 2012-13 for Bridgeport) will be able to take over this role, but it's going to be tough to put all your eggs in the basket of a rookie. The Islanders will need to see increased production from Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald, and/or Thomas Hickey if they want to replace the production void created by the Islanders' former captain.
Because Brad Boyes left....
One year after the departure of PA Parenteau, the Islanders find themselves in a very familiar situation. Once again, Long Island's hockey team watched their top-line winger depart, so once again, the Islanders have a huge gap to plug.
Garth Snow did his job well this summer, bringing in former 60-point scorer Pierre-Marc Bouchard to replace Brad Boyes alongside John Tavares. Unfortunately, though, the Isles have to consider a back-up plan, just in case Bouchard's battered-and-bruised history resurfaces.
Cal Clutterbuck was brought in by Garth Snow in exchange for a former "future winger for Tavares," and while his game isn't necessarily that of a first-liner, perhaps the Islanders can rediscover the junior hockey magic between JT and Clutterbuck.
The Isles also have Kyle Okposo, who blossomed alongside Josh Bailey and Frans Nielsen in 2013. Although he only put four pucks in the back of the net last season, the former 8th-overall draft choice in 2006 has been working out with JT during this offseason.
Between these three players (and possibly Ryan Strome), the Islanders will need someone to make up for the production void that has once been patched with Parenteau and Boyes.
Because Marty Reasoner left....
OK, listen. Reasoner was an abomination for the Islanders during his two-year run with the team. It's going to be awfully difficult to do any worse than Marty Reasoner did for the Isles from 2011-12 to 2013. With that being said, nothing is a given, which should be evident because Reasoner was expected to be the offensive upgrade the Isles need on their bottom-six when they made the decision to replace Zenon Konopka for him.
Peter Regin and Brock Nelson will probably receive the first opportunities to replace Reasoner's role as third-line centre from last season, but can the Isles really expect the world from two players who have combined for 0 goals since the beginning of the 2013 season? Obviously, we love the endorsement that fellow-Dane, Nielsen, gave Regin, and we love our home-grown prospect Nelson, but the Islanders have two unproven commodities fighting for one spot on the roster. By all means, I trust them, but the Islanders will really need one of these guys to step up and fill a role that hasn't been filled adequately for several seasons.
So, Isles fans....
Which player must step up in their roles the most in 2013?
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!