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The Islanders’ future is happening right now

Aug 26, 2013, 2:13 PM EDT

John Tavares Getty Images

After years of finishing poorly, the New York Islanders piled up an impressive array of draft picks and more than a few of those guys are there already to put the organization on their back.

Any discussion like this begins with John Tavares. If you missed out on what he did for the Isles last season you missed an incredible performance by a 22-year-old. His 28 goals and 19 assists in 48 games led the team in scoring and earned him a spot as a Hart Trophy finalist.

By leading the Isles to their first playoff berth since ’06-’07, Tavares at the very least became a folk hero on Long Island. What he may have actually done though is sealed the deal to be the next team captain. By teaming up with Matt Moulson to provide a killer one-two punch, the Isles have at least one line that can score on anyone in the league.

The fun part for Isles fans and executives alike? He’s not even close to the only young guy emerging.

Among the forwards, there’s a host of young guys thriving on the Island. Josh Bailey (23), Brock Nelson (21), Kyle Okposo (24), Michael Grabner (25), Casey Cizikas (21), Matt Martin (23), and Anders Lee (22) all saw time last season with the Isles. 2011 first-round pick Ryan Strome (20) will join that group this year.

And you wonder why GM Garth Snow mostly stayed away from the free agent market this summer.

Things aren’t any different on defense where Travis Hamonic has emerged as one of the best the Isles have there. At 22 years old he’s playing top minutes in all situations and he’s got other young guys right there with him.

Thomas Hickey (23) and Brian Strait (25) both emerged as key players last season and Matt Donovan (23), Calvin de Haan (22), and Griffin Reinhart (19) will look to crack the NHL roster in training camp.

Of those last three, Reinhart has the highest potential but may stay in juniors. 2013 first-round pick Ryan Pulock could eventually figure into the mix as well.

Long story short, you might look at the Isles roster before the season starts and ask, “Just who are these guys?” Chances are you’ll get to learn them quickly because they’re going to be part of the Isles’ continued rise out of the basement.

  1. bcisleman - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    The one area of concern now and in the future for the Isles is goaltending. If they find a franchise goalie, they will become a dominant team.

    • hockey412 - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:13 PM

      I can’t see “dominant” with the current defense. I like Hamonic I really think they could be stronger there. Good looking team up front, though.

      • hockey412 - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:13 PM

        I meant “I like Hamonic BUT I really think they could be stronger there”

      • bcisleman - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:05 PM

        The current D is adequate. The Isles may well have the strongest D prospect pool in the NHL. Isles are or will be strong at every position but goal. Not clear that any of their prospects will be the answer.

  2. tjvalley - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    The time is now. No more trading away young good players for has beens. The islanders just need a solid goalie and they become one of the top three hardest teams to play against.

  3. multiplemiggs - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:28 PM


    • gregman98 - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      Same was said of the Caps a few years ago, and now many consider them a borderline playoff team.

  4. islesjb - Aug 26, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    What’s key to the Isles success going forward will guys like Bailey and Okposo building off what they achieved towards then end of last season.

    Okposo has always been a frustrating guy to watch for Isles fans since we’ve always known the kind of potential he has but is often subject to inconsistency. The latter part of this season was much different. He was able to shift into a higher gear and was like a bull on skates. He started finding the back of the net and was a constant offensive threat. Also, when he knocked out Niskanen during game 2 against the Pens, he helped spark an awesome comeback win.

    Bailey is another guy who turned things on late in the season and helped propel the Isles into the playoffs. He’s also had issues with consistency so hopefully he can ride a strong end to the 2013 season into 2013-14.

    We know what we are getting with the 1st line. For the Isles offense to remain strong, they have to get consistent production from lines 2 and 3 with the 4th providing an occasional goal as well.

  5. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Others and I have posted that the big limitation they face is goaltending. They have the most available cap of any team, 15.6 mil. Ray Emery was outstanding last year as a frequently played #2, only leaving the Hawks as a UFA as he wanted the opportunity to start.

    Islanders could have gotten for 2 mil, and did not appear to have tried.


    • islesjb - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:24 PM

      Apparently they tried for Bernier of the Kings but LA wanted a viable #2 as part of the deal which obviously NYI didn’t have to offer.

      Not sure what options they have left at this point.

      • bcisleman - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:12 PM

        Theodore. A one year deal for him would make them stronger.

  6. pftfan - Aug 26, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    They missed the boat on Cory Schneider. If they could’ve landed him, I think people would be more bullish on the Isles.

  7. multiplemiggs - Aug 26, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    I am all for another year of Nabby but with another veteran to play backup/split role with him as poulin and nilsson develop another year in bridgeport. Poulin deserves at least that after being tossed onto the bench in the middle of his season bc of DP. Nabby will steal us games but come trade deadline it would be wise to start considering what goalies are availble. But hey! I predict the Snow Machine will scoop one off waivers, his go to move and fill that void.

  8. deadrabbit79 - Aug 26, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    Could a trade for Ryan Miller be in the cards?

  9. jacketsfan7 - Aug 27, 2013 at 6:59 AM

    Can’t wait to see these guys , they’re right there and about to kick some ass , islanders fans have a lot to be excited for and they still have young guns to look out for including
    Griffin Reinhart

  10. modellforprez - Aug 27, 2013 at 9:46 AM

    too bad Strait left for the Fly’s

    • bcisleman - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:09 PM

      Strait is still there. Streit went to Philly and, yes, the Isles will miss his offense. Matt Donovan has quite a pair of skates to fill.

  11. bcisleman - Aug 27, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    My guess is that Miller, Hiller and Halak will all be in new unis for 2014-15. Garth may be counting on one of them slipping to FA or one of their current teams not being able to swing a deadline deal and selling cheap asset-wise.

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