2018 New York Islanders Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
Here is the Islanders' offseason in a nutshell - they made big upgrades in the front office and behind the bench, had real hope, and then lost all of that hope when their superstar center, who they nurtured into the player he is since drafting him, bolted for Toronto. Now everyone is sad, the future is cloudy, and maybe playing home games in two different arenas will help. I should have given a spoiler alert before that, because you pretty much know everything you need to about the team right now. But I won't leave you there, faithful readers. Oh no. We will look into things in much closer detail. I'm here for you - unlike the fans in Barclays Center have been for the Islanders since their disastrous move there.
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New York Islanders Offseason Moves
They hired Lou Lamoriello to replace Garth Snow as general manager. Lamoriello is 75-years-old and a bit too old school for my tastes - he won't let players have facial hair, for example. But he is very connected and competent and is a huge upgrade. And Lamoriello pulled off a coup in hiring Barry Trotz just days after he had won a Cup with Washington. Trotz wanted to be paid fairy, and the Capitals, for reasons that don't make any sense, weren't willing to do so. Trotz has worked wonders both in Nashville and Washington and is a big upgrade over Doug Weight.
But, of course, it was hoped that those two would make the team attractive
enough for superstar center John Tavares to stick around. But he didn't,
instead going to the team, Toronto, which Lamoriello had just left. Tavares
becomes one of the very biggest stars ever to move as a free agent, and he
leaves gaping holes in the roster and psyche of the team - as we will touch
There were moves besides those big ones. Center Leo Komarov was added as a free agent from Toronto, where Lamoriello knew him well. Valtteri Filppula, the 34-year-old winger who has seen his production decline notably in recent years, was added for one year. Robin Lehner, who has opened up about addiction and mental health issues, has joined the team from Buffalo. He is a goalie with talent but is coming off a rough year. If he can find his form then he could be a very good story. His addition was necessary because Jaroslav Halak left in free agency. Another interesting addition is Jan Kovar, a 28-year-old undrafted free agent who scored better than a point per game two years ago in the KHL but has never played on North American soil. And besides Tavares, the biggest loss was defender Calvin de Haan, who left for Carolina.
The team had two first-round picks - theirs and one from the Flames acquired last year for Travis Hamonic. They got good value with both, taking winger Oliver Wahlstrom 11th and defender Noah Dobson 12th. Wahlstrom is the closer of the two at this point, but he will play at Boston College this year before likely trying to make the team next year.
New York Islanders NHL Outlook
The more you think about the impact of a guy like Tavares, the more you realize how important superstars are to teams. It's not just the scoring and leadership holes he leaves behind, though those are significant. Anders Lee and Josh Bailey both really blossomed offensively on Tavares' flanks - Lee scored the most goals by an Islander in more than a decade last year. But neither guy is at all guaranteed to keep it up without their center. Calder Trophy winner for top rookie, Mathew Barzal, will move up to the top line. He was brilliant last year, but now he isn't protected by Tavares, so he will face the top defender of opponents. And he has to find chemistry with linemates -- he's not the only one as the top two or three lines will be put in a blender after the departure. One guy leaving leaves so much uncertainty. Add in the fact that both Lee and Jordan Eberle, who was on the wing for Barzal for most of last year and could be again, are free agents after this season and will be in serious demand, and the distractions and uncertainty is extreme. If the season goes south early on then the pressure will be on to trade Lee or Eberle unless they are certain they can extend them so they get something for them unlike they did for Tavares.
Playing in Brooklyn hasn't worked. No one there cares, and their fan base isn't travelling from Long Island for games. A new arena is in the works at Belmont Park, but construction won't start until next year. In the meantime, they are splitting this season between Brooklyn and back at Nassau County Coliseum, which they left in 2015. That will be odd.
New York Islanders Schedule
The Islanders play eight of 11 games in October on the road. Front-loading the trips can be a positive because more now means less later. However, for a team that isn't likely to be very good like this one, it can cause you to fall into a hole you can't get out of.
New York Islanders NHL Futures Odds
The Islanders are at +10000 to win the Stanley Cup at Bovada . That finds them tied with a handful of other hopeless teams and ahead of only three even more hopeless ones - Vancouver, Ottawa and Detroit. The season point total sits at 83.5 after an 80-point season last year.
2018-19 New York Islanders Predictions
The team has some solid offensive pieces to work with, but finding a way to fit the puzzle together, and dealing with the distractions of looming free agency, make it tough to judge them. And depth is a concern. This is not the worst team in the league by any means, and Trotz is a great coach who will get all there is to get out of them, but the playoffs are far beyond reasonable expectations. Far, far beyond. If I had to take a stance on the total, I'd go "over", but more to have something to root for than because it's a sound investment.
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