Regular Season Finish: 15th in Eastern Conference
Last season, the New York Islanders were the worst team in the entire NHL, which earned them the rights to the first overall pick in the 2009 draft. With that pick, the Islanders may have saved their franchise, in a similar manner as the Pittsburgh Penguins saved theirs with the drafting of Sidney Crosby. The Islanders have been stockpiling young talent for the past few seasons, with young scorers like Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau. This year, however, they hit the jackpot, landing super prospect John Tavares. Tavares has been spending the last few seasons with clubs in the OHL and the Canadian junior National team, tearing up the opposition and breaking records that have stood since Wayne Gretzky cut his teeth in the minors. >
Tavares is already being heralded as the savior of the franchise, and he certainly has the potential to be. However, even Sidney Crosby couldn’t get the Penguins to the playoffs in his first season, and turning the last place Islanders into playoff contenders won’t happen overnight. They do have some talented players on their squad, as already mentioned, and veteran leaders like Doug Weight will help the young Tavares get his footing in the NHL. However, the Islanders were the worst team in the league last year, scoring fewer goals than any other team except Colorado, and ranking 3rd last in the Eastern Conference in goals allowed.
The uncertainty surrounding Rick DiPietro’s future with the club seems to be growing on a daily basis, and that 15 year contract of his is looking more and more like a giant mistake. However, New York signed two very capable veteran netminders in Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron, which should help them fix their defensive issues. Depending on how well Tavares adapts to the NHL, the Islanders could have the potential to be in the running for a playoff spot, but it would be unfair to expect them to do so next season.