2014-15 NHL team previews: New York Islanders

2014-15 NHL team previews: New York Islanders
August 29, 2014, 12:30 pm
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(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

As part of our summer series previewing the 2014-15 NHL season, CSNwashington.com is analyzing all 30 NHL teams, division by division. Today we continue with the Eastern Conference’s Metropolitan Division.

Today: NEW YORK ISLANDERS

2013-14 record: 34-37-11 (79 points)

Where they finished: 8th in the Metropolitan; 14th in the East; 26th in the NHL

Coach: Jack Capuano (5th season)

Key additions: LW: Cory Conacher, C: Mikhail Grabovski, RW: Nikolai Kulemin, D: T.J. Brennan, G: Jaroslav Halak, G: Chad Johnson

Key subtractions: G: Evgeni Nabokov

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Michael Grabner - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Brock Nelson - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin

Anders Lee - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey

Matt Martin - Ryan Strome - Cal Clutterbuck

Extras: Cory Conacher, Casey Cizikas

Defense

Travis Hamonic - Lubomir Visnovsky

Cavlin de Haan - Matt Donovan

Thomas Hickey - Brian Strait

Extras: T.J. Brennan, Griffin Reinhart, Matt Carkner

Goaltenders

Jaroslav Halak - Chad Johnson

Our take:  The Islanders entered the 2013-14 season with plenty of optimism after reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2013 for the first time in six years.

The optimism though vanished quickly as New York lost 10-straight games in November (and 15-of-17 overall), traded fan favorite Matt Moulson for Thomas Vanek (who lasted only 47 games with the Isles), and lost both No.1 goalie Evgeni Nabokov and leading scorer John Tavares to significant injuries.

Tavares is expected back healthy at the start of training camp after suffering a season-ending knee injury at the 2014 Sochi Games. Prior to his injury, Tavares piled up 24 goals and 66 points in 59 games last season.

The 24-year-old Islanders captain is one of just three players, along with Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos, to have scored at least 24 goals every year since 2009-10 (Tavares' rookie campaign).

Tavares is expected to be joined on New York's No.1 line by Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo. Okposo had career-highs across the board last season with 27 goals, 42 assists and 69 points in 71 games.

Former Caps head to the Island: In an effort to ease some of the pressure from New York's top trio, General Manager Garth Snow went out this summer and added some much needed depth among the Isles' top-six forwards.

Mikhail Grabovski signed a four-year, $20M deal with the Islanders on July 2, reuniting with his former Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Nikolai Kulemin, who signed a four-year, $16.75M deal with New York that same day.

Grabovski had 13 goals and 35 points in 58 games last season with the Capitals, but had career-highs of 29 goals and 58 points in 81 games with Toronto in 2010-11, while playing on a line with Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur.

While MacArthur is now playing with the Ottawa Senators, Grabovski and Kulemin could be joined on the second line by NHL sophomore Brock Nelson (14 goals and 26 points in 72 games as a rookie last season).

The Islanders also shored up their goaltending this offseason, with the acquisitions of both Jaroslav Halak [four-years, $18M] and Chad Johsnon [two-years, $2.6M].

Halak went 29-13-7 in 52 games last season with the Blues and Capitals, with a 2.25 G.A.A., .921SV% and five shutouts.

The Islanders finished 28th in goals-against last season (3.18GA/game) and were 29th on the penalty kill (78.1%).

While Halak and Johnson provide the Islanders with a solid 1-2 punch in goal, the defense remains the Isles biggest concern heading into their final season at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Islanders could not sign veteran Dan Boyle despite acquiring his rights from the San Jose Sharks last June, and will instead rely on Lubomir Visnovsky, as well as youngsters like Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan and Griffen Reinhart.

Will they make the playoffs in 2014-15? No, the Islanders will miss the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.

Against the Capitals: Wed.Nov.26 at New York; Fri. Nov. 28 at Washington; Mon. Dec. 29 at New York; Sat. Feb. 21 at Washington

[RELATED: Life after the Caps: Mike Gartner]