In the world of art imitating past lives, we have the NEFHL Islanders
wallowing without a single victory 10 games into the season.
I could call a press conference or send up a weekly or monthly progress
report (a la you-know-who) but I’ll just submit a status article periodically.
Oh don’t worry, I’ll manage to insult the GMs periodically too but this rebuild
project is serious business.

I’m here to report that every dog has its day and the New York Islanders
are alive and well. The future is bright and the system is filling up with
talented players that will send the team to the post season within a few
seasons.

Without listing each and every player, here’s a short list of who you
can expect to play against when the Isles take the ice in the not-too-distant
future...

At Center, you’ll likely see Jonathan Hubardeau on the top line with Miko
Zibanejad playing second fiddle. Joe Pavelski, the current team leader, will
either be playing elsewhere or be among the best third line centers in the
league. Gregory Campbell projects as a utility guy and a solid PK/4th liner. I
know Campbell is a hot property with great D ratings and a good contract but we
like him and feel he can add to the all around roster with his LW eligibility.
Both Colin Fraser and Kyle Chipchura will likely be moved. Deeper in the system
sit John McFarland and Nick Cousins, both of whom will be arriving in the next
few seasons.

On the Wngs, there is a serious shortage this season but we hope to stock
the cupboard in the coming draft. Jiri Hudler and the recently acquired
Rotislav Olesz are serviceable but neither is top line material at this
writing. Teemu Pulkkinen has a top line skillset with great hands and speed if
not size. Pulkkinen will be known as the Finnish finisher when he arrives.
Both Tomas Vincour and Kyle Palmieri project as 2nd or 3rd line wingers with
grit and a two-way mentality. The same can be said for Swede Johann Larsson.
Colton Gillies is a project but has good size while Anthony Camara has displayed
the kind of character that teams bring to deep post seasons runs.

The Defense doesn’t look too shabby either with Alex Pietrangelo fulfilling
his all-star potential, Ryan Whitney both healthy and productive, while Cody
Franson improves with every game. Seth Helgeson projects as a solid shut-down
defenseman and even Ryan Sproul may become an NEFHL defender with both size and
skills. Yes there are others but traditionally, the third D pairing can be
bolstered via free agency if necessary.

With brings us to the anchor between the pipes. The Bulin Wall is
beginning to look more like the Berlin Wall and will be gone by the time this
team comes together. Marty Turco has also seen better days. But there are some
very talented young netminders already moving through the system Both Calvin
Pickard and Mark Visentin have the size, skills and mentality to become #1
goalies within a few seasons. Mikko Koskinen and Jordan Binnington are both
more of an insurance policy than sure-thing future stoppers.
 
And then there is the upcoming... The 2012 draft has been compared to some
of the best ones in the past 15 years. With an abundance of top talent and a
deep list of skilled eligibles, the NEFHL Islanders are well-prepared, owning 3
1st rounders and 9 total picks in the first 3 rounds.

The next two seasons may be painful but there is no reason to lack optimism
for the future. The Cup will return to Uniondale!! (or wherever the team is
playing in a few years).