Looking Ahead to Isles Offseason Moves: Goaltending
Welp, it’s over – the 2013-14 NHL season has come to a close for the New York Islanders.
Aside from crying and beginning a countdown until October, us Islanders fans will be on high alert as we follow all the off-season moves that the organization makes. Hopefully, these moves will restore our hopes that this is a playoff-bound team next year. Given the performance we saw from the rookies at the end of this season, the playoffs don’t really have to be a far shot from reality.
Some say the final piece to this puzzle is a managerial change, some say it’s building a stronger defense, both of which are certainly necessities, but here I’d like to focus on goaltending.
Let’s take a look at Evgeni Nabokov – he’s a 39 year old, frequently injured, average goaltender who has had a well-acclaimed career in the NHL up to this point. Recently, he’s been working from one-year contract to one-year contract with the Islanders. As the veteran that he is, this is an ideal situation. He’s nearing the end of his career (both age and performance level-wise) and in his eyes, the Islanders are the perfect fit for him until his career does eventually end. The pressure he faces as starter for the Islanders isn’t nearly as high as if he was starting elsewhere, mainly because of how the team is viewed in the eyes of its management. Nobody is taking any action to win the cup, so Nabby doesn’t have to either. He can stay on the island while playing cautiously through his injuries, and still get to call himself an NHL goaltender.
Nabokov has done a wonderful job for the Islanders during his time here and played a huge part in getting the team to the playoffs last season, but if there are any champion aspirations in the organization, I don’t think that he is the answer. As much as I love Nabby the person, I think the road to success will begin when Nabby the goaltender is replaced by a superstar as starter.
Since there aren’t any goalies up for grabs at the top of the draft this year, it’ll take some trades and some shopping to acquire one that’ll bring the Islanders what they’ve been lacking. It is very possible, but it’ll take aggressive moves by the Islanders’ GM (I didn’t mention any names there as a result of my wishful thinking for the future).
Instead of remaining complacent in their mediocrity, a push for a superstar goaltender is a MUST if this organization wants to regain the respect they earned all over the league last season, and prove to everyone that they do belong in the post-season. If this gets done, along with a more solid defense in front of this new goalie, the Islanders can truly become a force to be reckoned with. Further, combine all of these changes with an overhaul in the front office/behind the bench, and I have a feeling we could see a fifth banner being raised very, very soon.
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