Laidlaw here checking in for some more ramblings.
I try not to overreact to anything in the small sample size that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs but with the stakes so high I do like to see which players the coach trusts. With that in mind it's time to get Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo back on your radar. Those two were 1-2 in ice time among Islander forwards on Sunday. Granted a good deal of that ice time was on the penalty kill but for Bailey the increase has come with a graduation to the top line alongside John Tavares and is also up on the top power play. If that sticks we could see Bailey's breakout season next year. Even if it doesn't Bailey is trending upward after scoring 19 points in 38 games this season (a 41-point pace, which would be a career high for Bailey).
I'm less bullish on Okposo. I love how he's playing. It's great to see that fire. He seems like a big game type of player. But that suggests that there is a switch for him. I'm not convinced that he can play like this for 82 games. I'm waiting to see if Okposo can get onto the top power play unit as well before I go all in on Okposo.
This strong playoff showing bodes well for the Islanders keeping some of their UFAs around like Evgeni Nabokov and Mark Streit. Remember when Nabokov and Lubomir Visnovsky refused to even report to Long Island? This turnaround has been awesome. Now Visnovsky has signed an extension and you can imagine if the money is right both Nabokov and Streit will be keen to as well. The franchise is still something of a joke considering all the money they are paying people to NOT play hockey for them but that just makes their strong playoff showing all the more impressive.
Also, how great is it to see John Tavares in the playoffs? I seriously hate that so many of the league's young stars are wasting away on crappy teams. Sure it means that there's good talent at the World Championships but that tournament pales in comparison to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and frankly it can only tell you so much about a player's fantasy prospects. I personally use it as a nice reminder of some of the league's up-and-comers.
I caught some of the Canada-Denmark game on Saturday. Matt Duchene was electric in that game, but really he damn well better be. With his skating and all that open ice, it's inevitable that he's going to run wild. Uncontainable. I wonder if he gets consideration for the Olympic team considering the Games will be played on international ice.
Some sure fire Olympians on Team Canada at the World Championships: Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Eric Staal
On the borderline: Duchene, Jeff Skinner, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Andrew Ladd, Ryan O'Reilly, Jordan Staal, Brian Campbell, Mike Smith
How (HOW!) are all these guys not on playoff teams? I hate the salary cap era. But you know those guys are good so let's not waste any further time on them. How about some lesser-knowns like TJ Brodie?
I didn't really notice Brodie's play for Canada but he's there so that’s a reminder that he's a good young defenseman to keep an eye on. He saw a ton of minutes for the Flames down the stretch this season and might be the best lefty-shooting defenseman on the Flames roster, which could help him gain an edge, as both Dennis Wideman and Mark Giordano are righty shooters.
I thought Mikkel Boedker looked pretty good for Denmark but I'm not overly excited about his fantasy prospects, at least not until he gets a legitimate top line center to play with. He probably settles in as a nice two-way second line forward, which is still good but it's not what you build your fantasy team around. Should be a nice complementary piece though.
Canada was also in action today losing to Switzerland in a shootout. I didn't catch the game so I couldn't tell you who stood out but I am extremely disturbed by Nino Niederreiter's presence on the Swiss roster. It's not that he's not good enough to be there, in fact he scored a goal, but rather shouldn't he be with the Islanders as they go on this playoff run? They've got basically their whole AHL roster with them but not Niederreiter. Maybe this is much ado about nothing but I'm not enthusiastic about this development.
The other Swiss player to keep an eye on is netminder Reto Berra the prize acquisition in the Jay Bouwmeester deal. I say that at least somewhat sarcastically. I don't know if Berra is good or not but I thought it was hilarious when word was leaked that Ca