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Under Pressure: Garth Snow

Aug 22, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

Garth Snow Getty Images

Nearly 12 months ago we here at ProHockeyTalk asked, What’s Garth Snow thinking?

Almost a calendar year later, the same question can be asked.

With new ownership in the process of taking over and the Islanders set to move into a new home for 2015-16, one has to wonder what Mr. Snow is thinking.

The man, who appointed Snow general manager eight years ago, Charles Wang, is on his way out and the team has qualified for the playoffs just once in the past seven years.

With big changes at the top ahead, Snow is under pressure to turn his team into a playoff contender sooner rather than later.

New York finished the 2013-14 season 14 points back of eighth place Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Islanders were last in the Metropolitan Division with a 34-37-11 record.

The Red Wings finished with 93 points to clinch that final playoff spot last season, the only time the Islanders have finished with more than 80 points in an 82-game season was Snow’s first year at the helm in 2006-07 where the Islanders lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Buffalo Sabres in five games.

Under Snow’s watch, the Islanders have had three coaches and one can argue, given Snow’s pressure to win now, Jack Capuano could also be written about in this space.

The good news for Snow is he’ll have his captain, and top center, John Tavares back and healthy after suffering a knee injury at the 2014 Olympics limited him to just 59 games in 2013-14.

Snow went out and got Tavares some help adding depth to the forward group by signing Mikhail Grabovski to a four-year $20 million deal and Nikolai Kulemin to a four-year $16.8 million deal. The hope is Grabovski and Kulemin can rekindle their chemistry formed while playing together for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In goal, Snow went out and picked up the rights to Jaroslav Halak from Washington and inked him to a new four-year $18 million deal. Halak, who has a career 144-85-29 record with a .918 save percentage, should slot in nicely for the departed Evgeni Nabakov.

Halak should slot in nicely that is if he gets help from his defense.

The Islanders were 28th last season in goals-against ahead of only Florida and Edmonton. Snow didn’t do much to help his goaltender. He did go out and acquire the rights to Dan Boyle from San Jose, but was unable to come to terms with the pending unrestricted free agent, who signed with the New York Rangers.

The Islanders are also without Andrew MacDonald, who Snow sent to Philadelphia in March for minor leaguer Matt Mangene and a pair of draft picks.

Left are Lubomir Visnovsky, Travis Hamonic, Matt Carkner, Thomas Hickey and Brian Strait in addition to Calvin de Haan and Matt Donovan.

The Islanders did add a former Maple Leafs property on the back end as well in T.J. Brennan, the reigning AHL defenseman of the year. But given that Brennan was a minus-10 while scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace with the Toronto Marlies last season, I’m not sure how much help Brennan can be.

Then there’s budding prospect Griffin Reinhart, who at 20-years-old, could crack the Islanders opening day lineup. But to rest your defensive hopes on a rookie is recipe for disaster.

Snow’s inability to shore up defensive concerns could be what sinks him in New York’s final season on Long Island.

Related: In praise of John Tavares

  1. stevepopo - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Under pressure? This man is fired before the ink dries on the team sale agreement.

    • bcisleman - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      He will be going no where for two years. Wang retains majority ownership for that length of time. The pressure is to show this team is a contender this year and in 2015-16. If the Isles do contend, Snow likely stays. If not, he’s gone.

  2. stevepopo - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Replacement: Ray Shero.

    • jl9830 - Aug 24, 2014 at 11:52 PM

      He’s left Pittsburgh with a barren farm system and pretty much no depth behind Crosby and Malkin. No thanks.

  3. tm0000 - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    Not having Andrew McDonald will actually help the D. He was terrible.

  4. bsaures - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    I wonder how many of the decision he made was because he had a wang in his ear

  5. tjvalley - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    If snow gets fired he will be picked up by another team and make them great.

    • bullwinkle88 - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      You’re being facetious, right?

      • jl9830 - Aug 24, 2014 at 11:56 PM

        Eh if you actually bothered to do some research, you’d see that Snow really isn’t a bad GM at all. The Vanek trade- which assuming the pick won’t be top 2 (extremely unlikely that it is)- is probably his worst move, and will have few long-term ramifications. They’ll only have lost a first rounder (other teams have lost trades much worse than that), and he got to persuade Vanek about Long Island to the point where the Isles were the runners-up to the Wild for him on July 1. Not the worst deal.

        He’s also rebuilt the farm system throughout- when he took over, they honestly had nothing. They were signing 40-year olds like Jay Pandolfo because they didn’t have players to fill out the lineup. Now, they have easily a top-5 farm system, and an extremely bright future.

        So, we’ve got a GM with serious financial restraints who has managed to not make any horrendous trades, completely restock the farm system, and have them set up to be really good for a few years now. I’m sure a team like the Flyers would love a GM like that.

  6. bullwinkle88 - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    How does this guy still have a job?

    • jl9830 - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:01 AM

      Besides the Vanek deal, which isn’t really that bad a deal at all, let’s hear one bad move from him.

  7. bcisleman - Aug 22, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    As I have noted above, Snow has a two year window (2014-2015 & 2015-2016) to make the Isles a contender. Wangs majority ownership ends in 2016 and if the Isles aren’t a solid contender by then, Snow is surely gone.

    As to the last coment about defense, it is widely known among Isles followers that Snow intends to trade for a vet top four likely late pre-season or early regular season. If someone had been doing heir homework before writing this article, they would have known that. Moreover, by the end of the two year grace period, Reinhart, Pulock. Pokka,Pelech, Mayfield, De Haan, Donovan and Pedan should all be ready for starting jobs assuming they haven’t been traded. The Isles’ future is bright.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 22, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      If my memory is correct, last year I read a report where the Isles and Bolts were credited with having excellent propsect pools.

      So Garth may end up being “saved by the prospects”.

      • jl9830 - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:02 AM

        Didn’t he draft those prospects? Going out of your way to avoid giving him any credit, huh?

  8. blomfeld - Aug 22, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    May God bless the Islanders and their loyal fans …

    • wranglerick - Aug 22, 2014 at 7:03 PM

      Amen brother

  9. thekindone4 - Aug 22, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    Thanks Garth!

    Much love and loses,

    Buffalo Sabres fans

    • jl9830 - Aug 25, 2014 at 12:03 AM

      Enjoy that 19th overall pick, you guys could sure use it.

      • leninthebuff - Aug 26, 2014 at 8:07 AM

        HaHA you hope it’s the 19th pick. BTW, the Sabres have the best rated prospect pool in the league so we will rise after this season. The 19th pick in what has been described as the deepest draft since 2003 could still bring us a player like Corey Perry and I’d be happy with that wouldn’t you?

  10. tommyelay - Aug 23, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    The writer mentions the loss of Andrew MacDonald as if it’s a negative. I guess he didn’t see how the D played after he was traded.

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