|Make Poulin earn his spot on the bench.|
While Isles fans are finally hopeful again (for the most part), all is not perfect. Not yet.
With 39 days to go before the beginning of a new season, the Islanders, coincidentally, are without Rick DiPietro (formerly #39), and without a bonafide backup goaltender. Right now, Kevin Poulin is "the man," and despite his success over his final five appearances of 2013, Isles fans are tossing and turning in bed at night because of this. I mean, I don't blame them. Poulin is largely unproven at the NHL level, so Isles fans have every right to be concerned; however, Poulin's unproven ability is not the source of my concern.
What concerns me is the fact that it appears Poulin will get his job by default, by a way that isn't usually the "Isles way." While we have seen several of our current Islanders unseat the veteran (see Casey Cizikas, Travis Hamonic, etc.), and several players still trying to beat out the veteran for a spot (see Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, etc.), it seems as if Poulin "earned" his job by being the only option available.
Solution? Invite a goalie or two to training camp.
It doesn't have to be Tim Thomas either, folks. Former Hart Memorial Trophy winner Jose Theodore remains on the market. No, he's no longer the MVP-calibre goaltender he was back in 2001-02 (because then he would have a team), but Jose remains a well-respected, well-tenured goalie at the NHL-level - one who led the Florida Panthers to a division title in 2011-12. Also available is Islanders killer Johan Hedberg, along with well-traveled career backup Mathieu Garon. If you're into space, Ilya Bryzgalov is also floating around the solar system....some where.
Look, the Islanders don't need another starting goalie, but with all the question marks around your backup goaltender, why not bring in somebody for training camp. It's not that I doubt Poulin (because I don't), but I figure that, if anything, this type of move could help him.
Rather than hand the job off to Kevin Poulin, an extra addition to training camp will make him have to earn his spot behind Evgeni Nabokov. He will have to beat out the camp invite if he plans on staying at the NHL level. If he can't win the job, it's back to the AHL for Poulin. If he can win the job out of camp, then not only did Poulin earn it, but it should also calm the masses uneasy thoughts concerning Poulin's ability to perform adequately behind Nabokov.
The Isles can do no wrong by bringing in some healthy competition for the Islanders backup role in between the pipes. Let Poulin earn the job the "Isles way."
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!