The 2018-19 NEFHL season kicks off tonight and it’s a whole new year for 30 GMs to strut their stuff in the best hockey SIM on the web. Last year’s Cup Champion, GM Brent Bellio’s Pittsburgh Penguins will begin the season with a repeat in mind, rolling ten even-strength forwards on opening night. Interestingly, in what seems to be a trend, the Pen’s Cup final opponent, the Arizona Coyotes, will roll just nine even-strength forwards.
But the main focus of this posting is the new season beginning for the New York Islanders. Other than the three division championship banners that hang from their rafters, the Islanders have never won anything worth bragging about. It took at least five years of suckage for the current squad to be built via the draft.
Life in the NEFHL is a continuous learning process and the Islanders are entering a new development stage. With solid forwards up and down the lineup, adequate (if not spectacular) scoring, steady defense, and two 80+ goaltenders, the Isles are in position to take the next step forward. Time is a factor and salary cap constraints will soon force more change on Long Island.
Over the next few weeks, (depending, of course, on game results), Islander fans can expect to see the spotlight shine on some of the off-season acquisitions and how they are blending in with the longer-term Isles. The biggest change was the arrangement that brought 6 foot 6 inch Jacob Markstrom in as a bargain-priced 82OV netminder. In pre-season play, Markstrom hasn’t shown the flash or steadiness that fans were hoping for but Jake Allen went undefeated and is looking for a bounce-back season on Long Island.
Other lineup changes will see Joakim Nordstrom playing on the 4th line after the Isles were compelled to move Cal Clutterbuck due to salary cap concerns. And those cap concerns are going to be apparent on opening night. Nikita Zadorov will be manning the blueline in Bridgeport. The mammoth Russian defenseman will spend a significant part of the early season on the farm while Fat Jake “I came I saw I ate” Dotchin will wallow back and forth on the Isles’ blueline.
The Isles front office door is always open and the phone lines are ready for action. If the right opportunity comes along, moves will be made. The waiting is over and change is going to be viewed as opportunity going forward.
Good luck this season boys!!!