September 29, 2008

Islanders Claim Thomas Pock and Other News

This afternoon the Islanders announced that they have claimed defenseman Thomas Pock off waivers from the New York Rangers.

The move comes as a bit of a surprise because as Chris Botta reported this is a one-way contract which ensures Pock will be with the team for the year. One has to wonder about who other than Chris Campoli has sustained some kind of injury. Pock, 26, has been know as an offensive defenseman for much of his career. The 6'1", 210 lb. blueliner has amassed seven goals and seven assists in 59 career NHL games with the Rangers, while going 23-89-112 in 195 games with the Rangers AHL affiliate the Hartford Wolf Pack.

The biggest looser of this could possibly be Bruno Gervais. While many have assumed he would have a spot on the depth chart on this team, Scott Gordon has had him as the 7th defenseman all camp. Freddy Meyer has been playing in the 6th spot, one that many thought Gervais would have for sure. The fact that Campoli is hurt and the Islanders had been rumored to be in on the Schneider sweepstakes before he was sent to Atlanta and have now actually claimed an offensive defenseman really makes you question exactly what the team feels Gervais's role on the team is.

Isles-Devils at Coliseum: The Islanders will play their 4th preseason game on Wednesday Oct. 1 at the Coliseum. The Isles are 2-1 so far after splitting their last two games, loosing 4-0 to the Flyers and then beating the Panthers 4-2. The teams scoring problems proved to still be a problem for the game against the Flyers, and rookie Josh Bailey only had two shots in his first game. Going back to the OHL might be the best thing for him at this juncture, but it was only one game and there is still time for the team to work out some of these kinks. Two Islanders the team is putting a lot of faith in, Trent Hunter and Frans Nielsen scored 2 goals apiece to beat the Flyers. With Mike Sillinger out, many feel that Frans Nielsen will be the guy who will see a bulk of the playing time as the 3rd line center between Jeff Tambellini and Hunter. Many people are hoping that Hunter can regain his scoring touch from his earlier years, and this was a good start for him.

Botta Returns: Chris Botta has returned to blogging for the team. After going on hiatus July 7, Botta has a new site and a new format. His site is frequently updated every day. As usual, he has provided some great insight and has let readers know some information that wasn't out in the open before. He's even broke the story about Pock's one-way status. The link has been updated under our links section on the side of the page, and you should definitely check it out.

NYI FYI Radio Show Returns 10/5: Sean and I will be back for our second season of NYI FYI this Sunday at 10 PM at MYWCWP. We're very excited to get our new season underway and return to talking Islanders hockey!

September 25, 2008

Isles Off to Good Start in Preseason

The Islanders came to training camp with many questions this year. The biggest question of all, however, was how new head coach Scott Gordon's system would work with the current crop of players the team has. So far, so good.

The Islanders won their first preseason game on Tuesday 2-1 over the Bruins. Jon Sim scored the only regulation goal for the Islanders and prospect Trevor Smith scored the winner in overtime. Sim had many chances for the Islanders, which was a very good thing to see from a player who missed all but 2 games last season after having knee reconstruction surgery. Kyle Okposo had a very solid game for the Isles, and Doug Weight had a couple of nice chances on Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask.

The Islanders outshot the Bruins 38-19. For much of the early part of the game, the Islanders we able to sustain a lot of momentum in the offensive zone. Much of this can be attributed to Gordon's idea of "overspeed."

The Isles rookies have also been successful so far this offseason as they are 3-0. The young players also seem to be buying into Gordon's system, which I'm not surprised to see because of his track record of working with young players.

The Islanders go back at it tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. Islanders 2008 first round draft pick Josh Bailey will make his debut centering Mike Comrie and Blake Comeau. That should be interesting to see since Bailey has a very good chance to make this team with Mike Sillinger on the IR list to start the year.

So far, Gordon's system seems to be working fairly well. All the players are buying into it, and thats a good thing. An up tempo system is something the Islanders haven't had for years, and with a team that might not look as skilled as the others on paper, that could be their best chance at staying competitive.

I plan on going more in depth about Gordon real soon as I compile some things players have said about him and his system. Since the system is new to most of us, a lot of stuff we don't know about. Once we get to see some of the preseason games at length either live or pre-recorded, we should be able to tell more from that.

Chris Hessel

September 10, 2008

Islander Tidbits

OK, so I kind of had another leave of absence there for a bit. At least this was shorter than the last one. The last time you heard from me, the team made Scott Gordon their new coach. Since then things had gotten pretty quiet, but over the last two weeks there have been some grumblings going on as we await the start of training camp next week. So lets just touch upon some of those topics.

First off, the Mats Sundin rumor. For any Islander fan who isn't aware, it was mentioned by Darren Dreiger of TSN that the Islanders are considered a darkhorse candidate for the long time Toronto center. Being that mats Sundin has always been one of my favorite players in the league since I started watching, the news was a pleasant surprise to me. Unfortunately, I think that there is no chance of this happening, but I like Garth Snows persistence on the whole thing. If you have any chance to add a player like Mats Sundin, you have to pursue it. While it doesn't appear the Islanders are completely out of the running for him, it would just seem to be natural that Sundin would want to go to a Stanley Cup contender, right? Well, we don't know. As has been the case with Mats all summer long, no one knows whats really going on in his mind other than he still has a special place in his heart for Toronto. It seems the idea of playing elsewhere really hasn't sunk in for him yet. Even though Toronto has left the door slightly open for a return, I'm not too sure how thrilled they are with the idea being that they are looking to move in another direction based on their buying out of Andrew Raycroft, Darcy Tucker, and their trade of Bryan McCabe this offseason.

Also keep in mind that Sundin wants to return to a place where he hasn't had a top line winger over the last many seasons but still had years of 70+ points. If he were to go to a team like Detroit or Montreal, he'd have a much better chance of winning. We also know this isn't about money because he would have taken Vancouver's 2 year, $20 million offer which has been on the table since July 1. So this situation is very difficult to figure out, and no one really knows what is going on with this. As an Islander fan, I'd love to see this. But I won't get my hopes up about it.

The second thing I'd like to bring up is the Mathieu Schneider rumors. The Ducks are looking to shed some salary in order to bring back Teemu Selanne. That salary dump will most likely come in the form of veteran defenseman Schneider as he is set to make $5.65 million in the final year of a two-year contract. Despite being 39 years old, Schneider has proved that he can still be very effective, especially on the powerplay. Last season he put up 12-27-39 in 65 games with Anaheim. The Islanders have been mentioned in some rumors as well as the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings I feel are the most likely scenario being that they are still trying to get to the cap floor and are running out of time to do so. Selanne prefers to play the whole year, one that might possibly be his final year. So, it is very possible that the Ducks find themselves in a position where they would want to dump Schneider sooner rather than later and it most likely would not take much to land him. Last season, the Ducks ran into some similar problems when both Scott Niedermayer and Selanne decided to return at the mid point of the season, and this year with Niedermayer staying on for the entire year, they would rather get everything settled now. I think the Kings are a good fit for Schneider, and I really don't see any possible way the Isles would bring him in. They already added Mark Streit this offseason via free agency, and although I would welcome Schneider, I'm not too sure the islanders would. I see them sticking with what they have, and if they want more offence from the blueline I can see them taking a long hard look at someone like Jack Hillen from the farm team.

Finally, I'd just like to briefly mention some of the rumblings that have Josh Bailey possibly playing on the team this upcoming season. I would have no problems with this as long as bailey has earned his spot. I don't want to have the kid play here just because he was a top 10 pick in a deep draft. If he is still raw, he needs to go back to juniors for more seasoning. With that said, I think Bailey does have a shot at making this team. One of the things I commented on in the past was how I liked his size for someone his age. He is a very smart player for someone his age as well, and some scouts went as far as to call him the smartest player of the 2008 draft. It is expected that Josh will sign a contract and get a long, hard look in camp, so it really is up to him. He did look pretty good in prospect camp, and I'm very curious to see if he has a repeat of that in the rookie camp starting on September 15. If he has a good camp, he'll be in training camp with the chance to make the Isles. Even if he does make the team, he would have 9 games up with the big club at which point the team could either keep him or send him back to juniors. Because of age restrictions set by the league, he is not eligible to play in the AHL yet. This is certainly something that we should be keeping tabs on, because it is more realistic we'll see him rather than Sundin. Many are expecting his signing very soon.

So that's just some of the things going on in Islander land lately. With training camp just about 1 week away, its expected we'll learn more about things. So you can expect more posts from me. For now, these are just a couple of things you can chew on and respond to if you like.