I failed to get the rankings up before the Winter Classic. But 95% done and will have them posted tonight
The Islanders are starting to gel as a team (fingers crossed) and they’ve won their last three games with John Tavares in the lineup. But looked completely lost without him. With him, however, they are starting to look like the team we expected – young and improving, with terrible goaltending. At this point it’s becoming clear that Kevin Poulin is not the answer. He looked like he might be, but two years later he has done zero to show that he can handle it. And Evgeni Nabokov is clearly a step slower from last year (when he was a step slower from the year before) and I struggle to even consider him NHL material let alone No.1 material. That leaves Anders Nilsson – and he’s imploded at the AHL level.
This is crazy, but it’s part of being a GM in the NHL. You have all your ducks lined up in a row, and then suddenly shit happens. The Islanders stockpiled some pretty good prospects and between the pipes was no exception. We were pretty optimistic about Poulin, Nilsson and Mikko Koskinen – and Nabokov was a perfect stopgap ‘bridge’ solution. Poulin and Nilsson saw spot starts and looked impressive, and Koskinen saw the writing on the wall and left for the KHL. Now, a couple of years later, Nabokov, Poulin and Nilsson are horrible. Ironically – Koskinen is kicking ass in the KHL and I’m thinking there is a chance that the Isles look that way. Not that Koskinen could be a savior – after all, Karri Ramo kicked ass over there too, but back in the NHL he has been subpar. But he may be worth an add in deep leagues.
Keep two things in mind when it comes to Koskinen: 1) Ramo was the best the KHL had to offer and he’s been rather pedestrian for the Flames. 2) Koskinen is in the first year of a two-year deal, so any chance the Isles have of bringing him over is nearly two years away.
The more likely scenario is a trade. In which case – who is available? Ryan Miller and Michael Neuvirth are in the same conference. Jonas Hiller, Frederik Andersen and Ben Scrivens are not. Would they pay a premium for a rental like Hiller? Would the Ducks give up Andersen? Not without re-signing Hiller first. And would Scrivens, the product of a great defensive system, be the answer? Doubtful. If the Capitals were in the other conference, Neuvirth would be the perfect play.
Anyway, I got off topic there. I was starting to get into how the Islanders seem to be on a hot run, which means some big points are ahead for Tavares, Okposo, Nielsen and Andrew MacDonald, who seems to be the go-to offensive rearguard on that team for now. Tavares had four points last night, and MacDonald has five points in his last six games.
Long-time readers of this site know that I was pretty high on Al Montoya, and I was disappointed when Phoenix didn’t give him a chance despite his awesome play for them late 2008-09. I thought he would be gold when he went to the Islanders in 2011. But injuries at the worst times killed any progress he was making. I, like the rest of you, gave up on him. He’s a career backup. But not so fast – at the age of 28 he’s pulling a