2017-18 New York Islanders Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
For the first time in a long time there is a whole lot to talk about with this New York Islanders team. And, even better, quite a bit of it is positive. Good coaching situation, solid offseason, decent prospects - not bad. Of course, there are several problems, too - it is the Islanders, after all. We don't know where they are going to be playing next year, which isn't new, and if they can't convince John Tavares to stick around for a new contract then things could really get ugly in a hurry. Right now, though, things are better than they have been. Doug Weight did a phenomenal job after taking over the head coaching role mid-season, going 24-12-4 down the stretch. That was enough to lose the interim tag, and now Weight gets a whole offseason to prepare. That's a positive. But is it enough?
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New York Islanders Offseason Moves
The team needs to be able to offer Tavares a massive contract after this year - or sooner if he will sign it. It's going to be an eight-figure deal annually, and he's worth it. This offseason, more than anything else, was about making that resigning both more possible and more likely. First, they bribed the Vegas Golden Knights with draft picks to get them to take the Mikhail Grabovski contract which had been an anchor. Then they sent defender Travis Hamonic, a true top four guy, to Calgary for draft picks to cut costs. Then they spent some of those savings by trading Ryan Strome to Edmonton for the more expensive Jordan Eberle. Eberle costs more, but he's also much more talented offensively and could really benefit from a change of scenery. Losing Hamonic hurts, but it helps the bottom line and the return was good. Eberle knows Tavares well from international play, and if they could find chemistry it could have a big impact on the captain's willingness to return. Eberle, Tavares, and Anders Lee, who had 34 goals last year, are a very legitimate top line for the team. And Grabovski was just wasting oxygen for the team, and won't be missed.
Aside from that, the summer was largely quiet, and they traded their
first-round pick to Vegas in the Grabovski deal, so they don't have any
immediate help coming from the junior ranks.
New York Islanders NHL Outlook
The team missed the playoffs by only a single point last year, so they were close. And I respect that they didn't get dramatic in the offseason. Eberle helps up front. They have some pretty solid options to replace Hamonic - Ryan Pulock is a highly-regarded rookie who will be given all sorts of chances this year, and Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield could both take big steps forward as well. And they have some exciting youngsters up front as well. Josh Ho-Sang, a controversial guy for off-ice attitude issues, had 10 points in 21 NHL games last year, and he has massive talent if he can tap it now in his 21-year-old season. And Mathew Barzal, a first-rounder in 2015 who is a year younger than Ho-Sang, is very exciting as well. So, add it all up, and I find a lot more to be cautiously optimistic about with the team than I do to find worried about, and I like Weight a lot, so I feel fairly confident that the team will improve.
It's not all sunshine and lollipops, though. The goaltending situation isn't ideal. Jaroslav Halak cleared waivers and spent time in the minors last year, but he returned late and was brilliant. Thomas Greiss was good early but much less so as the season went on. That position could be a problem. And the Tavares contract, the horribleness of playing in Brooklyn, and the uncertainty about what will come next in terms of location could all be distractions.
New York Islanders Schedule
The team plays 18 of their first 29 games on the road this season. The home-ice advantage is less in Brooklyn than in many places - crowd involvement has been lukewarm, and the facility clearly wasn't designed for hockey. Still, that's a lot of road games early on. On the plus side, going heavy with the road games early means more home games later on, which can be a real positive as long as they do well early on.
New York Islanders NHL Futures Odds
Bovada has the Islanders at +5000 to win the Stanley Cup, which has them tied with the Flyers and Jets, and behind 20 other teams. I don't see them as a true contender, but that is far more pessimistic than I am feeling. BetOnline has the at +1600 to win the Eastern Conference, which is tied with Ottawa - the team that took Cup champs Pittsburgh to overtime in Game 7 of the conference finals last year - and behind eight other teams. Again, that feels overly harsh. They are the fifth choice to win the Metropolitan Division at +1200. The season win total is set at 42.5 a year after they win 41. The "under" is a solid favorite.
2017-18 New York Islanders Predictions
As I have said already, I obviously like this team more than most. I don't think they are going to be great, but they have done enough to improve, and they have some talent ready to step forward. The "over" on the season win total currently sits at +105. I'm into that.
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