With plenty of time left for pre-season tryouts and line-juggling, the New York Islanders appear poised to make a run at the conference crown and the ultimate NEFHL prize.  "Too many seasons of disappointment are finally a distant memory," said GM Steve Reisman who then continued, "and we aren't nearly as good as we're going to become in the next few seasons."

 

A handful of veteran players have departed Long Island for points unknown while the farm continues to produce high-level game-ready talent.  It's not easy to replace stalwarts like Andrei Markov, Jussi Jokinen, Roman Polak and Mark Giordano but the Islanders are plugging in a cadre of hungry young players.  Joining the team as 2017 starters are Swedish sensation winger Viktor Arvidsson, blueliners Brady Skjei, Mike Matheson and Noah Hanifin.

 

In net, Mike Smith is gone and Jake Allen will guard the cage for the upcoming season after signing a one year $5,400,000 contract.  Allen sorely wanted a longer deal but the Islanders front office made a firm decision to remain flexible while both Calvin Pickard and Anders Nilsson continue to gain experience.  Nilsson is signed for 3 more seasons at a bargain price of $1,1M and has the potential to become a top-end starter as soon as next season.

 

Among the more upwardly mobile youngsters are Nikolaj Ehlers, who is currently slated to join Casey Cizikas and Jordan Schroder on the 3rd line.  Ehlers played his heart out last season and it appears to only be a matter of time before he joins the top six.  For now, though, he is behind Jonathan Huberdeau, Kyle Palmieri, Nino Niederreiter and Viktor Arvidsson.

 

Sitting in Bridgeport, the Isles also have defensive depth in Nikita Nesterov, Jake Dotchin, Nikita Zadorov.

 

Forward-wise, look for Oliver Bjorkstrand, Anthony Beauvillier and Joshua Ho-Sang to be making an impact soon.

 

 

Isles Lines 8.12.17