Fantasy Impact: The Islanders have fired head coach Jack Capuano.

Capuano will be replaced by Doug Weight on an interim basis. We have never seen Weight as a head coach so it is anyone’s guess what type of style we should expect him to play.

The timing of this move is especially interesting as the Islanders have played much better of late. Since December 1 the Islanders have scored like a top-10 team putting up 3.2 goals per game. Sure, they were also conceding 3.0 goals per game, but things had settled down since the demotion of Jaroslav Halak.

Their record since December 1 was 9-7-4, which is by no means good but also an improvement. It is worth checking out the Islanders’ top scorers from their 20-game stretch of hot scoring:

Josh Bailey

16

Anders Lee

15

John Tavares

15

Nick Leddy

11

Brock Nelson

9

Casey Cizikas

9

Jason Chimera

9

Cal Clutterbuck

8

Nikolai Kulemin

8

Ryan Strome

8

Andrew Ladd

8

 

Tavares still isn’t producing like a superstar but he’s gotten Bailey and Lee up to fantasy relevance, which is an impressive feat in and of itself. Meanwhile, the most expensive fourth line in the league (Chimera, Cizikas, Clutterbuck) is finally producing at a level reflective of their price tag, if not their talent.

Capuano, a consummate tinkerer, spent a long time figuring out the right line combinations to get this team scoring. He finally got there and has been hanged anyway. The timing doesn’t make that much sense. Typically, things must get unsustainably bad for a coach to get fired but they’ve already started to turn themselves around. Considering the chicken shit that was the Islanders’ 2016 offseason, Capuano getting this team to tread water is impressive.

Of course, the seemingly infinite number of third-period collapses played a part in this decision. For that reason alone you could understand the firing, but again, the Islanders were playing improved hockey.

Presumably, the Islanders front office made this decision a while back and waited until they got through the thicket of their schedule with seven of nine games since Christmas coming on the road, and a bye week mixed in as well. They’ll now play six straight home games to close out January, which (if you ignore opponent strength) is a good way to set the new coach up for success. The official party line is this:

It’s hard to see what Weight is going to do to get more from this roster. They’ve got a legitimate top line with Tavares, Lee and Bailey. Their depth scoring is coming around. Greiss is playing like a #1 goalie. If anything, we might expect Weight to tinker and derail whatever semblance of decency these guys had established over the last month and a half.

There should be serious concerns about the Islanders tanking this season. Not only is Weight’s position within the organization as interim head coach but he also has the title of “special assistant to the GM”. That means he may not be fighting to prove his worth here. If the team does decide this season is lost, they have someone front the front office acting in a position to decide the nightly lineup. A scary thought for anyone with Islanders in their fantasy lineup.

Tanking could also mean Greiss getting moved to a contender and Halak making his return, which wouldn’t be all bad, but I have a lot of concerns. I’m treating every Islander not named Tavares like they’re sporting a scarlet letter. 

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