Tag Archive | Nick Leddy

Team of the Future? Islanders Are A Contender For Years To Come

By Brett Malamud

Gone are the days of Fishsticks, golf in April, and Mad Mike. After GM Garth Snow’s recent string of moves, the Islanders have set themselves up to make some noise in the Eastern Conference for the next handful of years.

With Thursday’s news that the Islanders locked up Johnny Boychuk to a seven-year, $42 million deal that comes just two weeks after the team signed Nick Leddy to a seven-year, $38.5 million deal, Snow cemented the top defensive line for the years to come. Snow also has a hefty pool of prospects that are poised for big careers. I’d go so far as to say that the next decade’s defensive pairings could be set if GM Garth Snow wants it. It could look something along the lines of this:

Johnny Boychuk – Nick Leddy

Travis Hamonic – Ryan Pulock

Griffin Reinhart – Calvin De Haan

Matt Donovan

Not to mention that they’d still have the likes of Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield waiting in the minors for the call. Of course, the Islanders could look to flip one or two of these players, in the hopes of a greater return (whether it be an established player or another draft pick). Whatever the case, this team is extremely deep, thanks to Snow’s key trades and draft picks.

NHL: New York Islanders at Boston Bruins

Looking in goal, Jaroslav Halak set the Islanders franchise record for the most wins in a single season. Snow flipped the struggling Chad Johnson for an upgraded backup goalie in Michael Neuvirth, giving the team someone they could rely on down the stretch.

Turning up front, Snow has built up the offense that led the team to last place in the NHL just a few seasons ago. That starts on the first line with homegrown forwards John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey. Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, and Brock Nelson come together to form the “kid line” of even more homegrown talent. The acquisition of Tyler Kennedy should help the penalty kill and should bring additional depth as this team goes forward into the playoffs this season. The signings of Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin proved to work out in the first season. The Islanders have found themselves with one of the deadliest offenses in the NHL. But don’t think that this is a fluke. No. The Islanders have more talent on the way in the likes of Joshua Ho-Sang, who is tearing it up in juniors. The 19 year old forward has 12 goals and 42 assists for a total of 64 points in just 44 games this season for the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL. But it’s Islanders prospect Michael Dal Colle that is making headlines in Canada, tallying 38 goals and 49 assists for 87 points in just 51 games this season for the Oshawa Generals in the OHL. The two are sure to be in the NHL soon enough, and will look to continue their success. There’s no way to predict the future, but the team is deep on offense and has its focal points locked up to long term deals.

Gone are the days of the team of the future. The future has finally arrived for the Islanders and now is the time to compete for the Stanley Cup in the years to come.


Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

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New York Islanders Mid-Season Report Cards

By Mike Basile

The Islanders are off to a hot start this season. They’re in first place in the Metropolitan Division headed into the all star break. Here’s my mid-season grades for the team.

Forwards
John Tavares (21 G, 24 A, 45 pts)- The captain has been on and off all season, but when you need a goal he is always there for you, he is second in the NHL with 5 game winning goals. He is starting to heat up again with 6 points in his last three games. One big concern for me is he takes some bad penalties. Your captain can not be doing that. Grade: B+

Kyle Okposo (14 G, 30 A, 44 points)- Okposo is also coming on of late he has 5 goals and 7 points in his last three games. He is starting to find his game again and that chemistry we all know he has with John Tavares. With these two heating up this team gets even more dangerous. Grade: B+

Ryan Strome ( 8 G, 25 A, 33 points)- When Ryan Strome is on the ice, good things happen, and his +16 shows that. It seems like whatever line he moves to has a ton of success. His on ice vision is great and it doesn’t hurt that he has a wicked shot as well. Grade: A-

Brock Nelson (15 G, 15 A, 30 points)- Brock Nelson makes a living in front of the net, and it shows on the powerplay as he has 9 of his 15 goals when on a man advantage. He is very strong on the puck and is still maturing. He can very quickly turn in to one of the most dangerous players in the NHL. Grade: B+

Frans Nielsen (9 G, 16 A, 25 points)- Frans Nielsen has one of the toughest jobs of all players, as almost every shift you will see him out against the other team’s top players. He is very skilled defensively and his 25 points are really helping the secondary scoring for this team. Grade: B

Josh Bailey (8 G, 13 A, 21 points)- Bailey looks to be a fit on that top line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. He has 6 points in his last three games and his 21 points this season came in only 34 appearances. It seems like Josh Bailey is finding himself. Grade: B

Nikolay Kulemin (11 G, 9 A, 20 points)- Kulemin has been a great addition to the New York Islanders team. He is great on the penalty kill and has three shorthanded goals. Very good third line player who is also heating up to add to the secondary scoring. Grade: B

Anders Lee (13 G, 5 A, 18 points)- Anders is a player you love to have on your team, he is gritty, works hard and loves to score those dirty goals in front of the net. He also has five game winning goals this season which is 2nd in the NHL. Grade: B+

Mikhail Grabovski (6 G, 8 A, 14 points)- Grabovski has been one of the biggest disappointments on the team this season. Failing to hit the net on good scoring opportunities and making bad decisions with the puck leaves him with only 14 points. He will need to step up if he wants to stay in the lineup. Grade: C-

Casey Cizikas (4 G, 6 A, 10 points)- Cizikas is quietly having a pretty good season. He isn’t a player who is going to go out and get points every night and even gets looked over on the 4th line because of Martin and Clutterbuck leading the league in hits. He does his job on the penalty kill and is one of the team’s best faceoff men. Grade: B-

Cal Clutterbuck (4 G, 5 A, 9 points)- Cal is second in the league in hits and according to Don Cherry is a part of the “best fourth line in NHL history.” I’d like to see him contribute more offensively because I feel like he has the skill to put up a 30 point season. Grade: C+

Matt Martin (6 G, 2 A, 8 points)- Martin leads the league in hits…… again. He is one of the best enforcers in the NHL and knows how to spark the team when they need some momentum. Grade: B-

Michael Grabner (4 G, 2 A, 6 points)- Grabner has six points in 12 games this season. He has come on pretty strong after missing most of the season with an injury. His best asset is his penalty kill, but with the speed he has, he is always dangerous. It would be unfair to grade him through only 12 games.

Defense
Johnny Boychuk (4 G, 18 A, 22 points)- Boychuk has been another great addition to the team. Johnny has one of the hardest shots in the league and is very dangerous on the power play. Did I mention he is also a +15? Grade: B+

Nick Leddy (7 G, 14 A, 21 points)- Boychuk’s defensive partner has also been a great add to the squad. With 7 goals this season he is a big help to the forwards. Him and Boychuk are a combined +25 this season, which is new for isles defensemen. Grade: B+

Thomas Hickey (2 G, 13 A, 15 points)- Thomas Hickey’s size is really starting to show. When him and Visnovsky are on the ice, they can’t win puck battles in the corner and allow the other team to works in their defensive zone. He is helping out offensively, but has to be stronger on the puck. Grade: C–

Lubomir Visnovsky (3 G, 8 A, 11 points)- Much like Hickey, his size also shows defensively. His 11 points in 29 games is good for a defensemen, but his first responsibility is defense and sometimes us fans question that. Grade: C

Travis Hamonic (3 G, 8 A, 11 points)- Hamonic goes up against top line forwards every night and is still an impressive +4. I would like for him to stay out of the box, but can’t complain much with his play. Grade: B

Calvin De Hann (1 G, 10 A, 11 points)- Calvin also pairs up with Hamonic to play against top tier forwards. This is a very tough task for the young d-man, but he holds his own and plays very steady defense. Grade: B-

Brian Strait (1 G 3 A 4 points)- The scapegoat of the islanders defense. Every time something goes wrong it is very easy for fans and the media to claim that it’s Strait’s fault. He is not great, but Capuano plays him way too much and that hurts him a lot. Grade: D+

Goalies
Jaroslav Halak (24-9-0)- Jaro has a 2.41 goals against average and a 91.0% save percentage. Halak has been shaky in his past couple of games, but this break may be what the doctor ordered. He has been a rock in goal for the isles this season overall. His 4 shutouts are also very impressive. Grade: A-

Jaroslav Halak and John Tavares have been a huge part of the Islanders success this season. (Via Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jaroslav Halak and John Tavares have been a huge part of the Islanders success this season. (Via Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Chad Johnson (6-5-0)- Johnson has a 3.38 goals against average and an 87.0% save percentage. Do I have to say anything? I understand he is the backup, but this is unacceptable. The team has lost faith in him and jaro cannot play every day. He needs to pick it up next start. Grade: F

Central Division 2014-15 Preview

By Brett Malamud

Wednesday is finally here! All day long, Dabuzzza will be bringing you the NHL coverage as we approach tonight’s games. If you missed the Metropolitan Division Preview, click here. If you missed the Atlantic Division Preview, click here. Now we move to the Western Conference.  The Central division hopes to be a good battle all the way to the end. The Avalanche won the division last season, but it seems that almost everyone in the division has improved. Let’s take a look at this season’s Central Division:

Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks opted to sign Daniel Carcillo instead of keeping Nick Leddy, and sent Leddy off to the New York Islanders. In return, they got Ville Pokka, Anders Nilsson and T.J. Brennan. The 20 year old defenseman Pokka was sent down to the AHL along with Brennan. You’d have to feel for T.J. Brennan though. Brennan has bounced around the NHL a bit, contributing mostly in the AHL. He signed a contract with the Islanders over the summer, and was finally ready to make that jump to become a full time NHL player. Instead, he was part of a salary based trade to Chicago and the Blackhawks sent Brennan back down to the AHL. That has to be a bad feeling. Nilsson will play in the KHL this year and is a non-factor. On the active roster, the Blackhawks look to get over the fact that they were a game seven overtime goal away from heading back to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in five seasons. They added Brad Richards to their offensive weapons, and he’s expected to start the season as their third line center. 25-year-old Patrick Kane sees himself on the second line with 21-year-old Brandon Saad and 23-year-old Andrew Shaw. Not bad for youth. The top line consists of Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. The attack will be hoping to continue the success of last season, when they ranked second in the league in goals per game. Duncan Keith leads the defensive unit. He’ll be paired with Brent Seabrook. The two are a huge threat from the blue line in the offensive zone, combining for 13 goals and 89 assists last season. Corey Crawford will be in net for the Hawks. Crawford struggled early last season but got it together, and hopes to maintain more consistency this season.

 

Colorado Avalanche
Are the Colorado Avalanche really back? The Avs came out of nowhere and stormed to the front of the Central Division standings, after seeing themselves in the basement of the league. A year after winning the division, they’ll have a target on their backs. They suffered a first round loss in seven games to the Minnesota Wild, allowing 22 goals over the seven game span. That can’t happen if Colorado wants to compete farther into the playoffs this season, or to be honest, any season. Adding Nathan MacKinnon in the draft helped, and he finished his rookie campaign with 24 goals and 39 assists, claiming the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. Adding to the youth of the Avalanche is Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, who netted 23 and 26 goals, respectively. These three young guns will continue to grow. Joining Duchene and Landeskog will be veteran forward and future hall of famer Jarome Iginla, who was signed as a free agent over the summer. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season and will try to help the defense out. Speaking of defense, that seems to be the issue over in the Mile High City. They’ve got Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie, but after that, they don’t really have much. Keep your eyes on that defense, because there could be a midseason trade to bolster the back line.

 

Dallas Stars
The Stars jumped into the playoffs last year with a wildcard spot, but saw their season fall at the hand of the top seeded Anaheim Ducks. This season, they saw their offense, which ranked 10th in goals per game, improve with a few major moves. Dallas traded four players for Jason Spezza on July 1. Later in the day, they signed Ales Hemsky to a three-year contract. Both moves immediately impact the offense. Hemsky and Spezza are expected to  be line mates on the second line. Second year forward Valeri Nichushkin will hope to make an impact this season, and jump up from the fourth line wing. Alex Goligoski leads the defense, one that can be described as average. Kari Lehtonen will stay in goal and comes off of a good season in which he had 33 wins. In terms of stats, the Stars find themselves in the middle of the pack in every major category. That’s were they’re expected to end up this season- in the middle of the pack.

 

Minnesota Wild
The worst kept secret in hockey this season is finally out. Thomas Vanek has signed with Minnesota. Vanek comes off of a season in which he was bounced in trades from Buffalo to New York to Montreal. Many expected Vanek on the first line with Zach Parise, but instead finds himself on the second line with Mikko Koivu. Parise, meanwhile, comes off of a 29 goals, 27 assists season. Ryan Suter continues his mega deal and will be paid 11 million dollars this season and will carry a cap hit of 7.54 million dollars annually through 2024-25. Niklas Backstrom will be the starting goaltender and will stand behind the fifth ranked defense in terms of shots against, and seventh ranked in goals against.
It took a three year, $19.5 million contract to land Thomas Vanek in Minnesota (Via Star Tribune)

It took a three year, $19.5 million contract to land Thomas Vanek in Minnesota (Via Star Tribune)

 

Nashville Predators
Former Preds Barry Trotz heads out to Washington D.C. to coach the Caps. Nashville opted for Peter Laviolette. Laviolette brings in the up-tempo attacking style. They’ll have depth at the center position, bringing in Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribero and Derek Roy. They also brought in James Neal in a trade for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Neal should bolster the power play stats, coming from the experience of the Penguins’ power play unit. The defense should be great as they’re led by Shea Weber and Seth Jones. The Predators hope that goaltender Pekka Rinne can stay healthy, after missing most of last season.

 

St. Louis Blues
The Blues watched as their 2-0 series lead evaporated in the first round of the playoffs, and the Blackhawks won four straight games to end St. Louis’ season. The Blues added Paul Stastny, a player that should help change the offense. There are many names that should help the offense: David Backes, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, and T.J Oshie just to name a few.Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk anchor the blue line once again, and Brian Elliott will man the net.

 

Winnipeg Jets
Devin Setoguchi and Olli Jokinen left to greener pastures and it might hurt the Jets a bit. Last season the Jets ranked Mark Scheifele will be up on the first line with Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane. Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba lead a defense that ranked 22nd in the league in goals against. Ondrej Pavelec must improve in goal if the Jets plan on coming close to the playoff race.

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy