Eastern preview: Islanders hit crossroads

Eastern preview: Islanders hit crossroads
September 4, 2013, 3:00 pm

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

2012-13: 24-17-7, 55 points

Where they finished: 3rd in the Atlantic; 8th in the East; 16th in the NHL

Coach: Jack Capuano (4th season)

Key additions: RW Cal Clutterbuck, C Peter Regin, C Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Key subtractions: D Mark Streit, C Keith Aucoin, RW Nino Niederreiter, LW Jesse Joensuu.

Projected Lineup

Forwards

Matt Moulson – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo

Michael Grabner – Josh Bailey – Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Eric Boulton – Frans Nielsen – Cal Clutterbuck

John Persson – Casey Cizikas – Matt Martin

Defense

Lubomir Visnovsky – Travis Hamonic

Andrew MacDonald – Matt Carkner

Brian Srrait – Thomas Hickey

Goaltenders

Evgeni Nabokov – Kevin Poulin

Our take: Under Jack Capuano the Islanders became one of the Eastern Conference’s toughest teams to play against last season, a trait that got them into the playoffs as the eighth seed and took them to the sixth game of their opening-round playoff loss to the Penguins.

In the process John Tavares became a Hart Trophy finalist, cementing himself as a force down the middle. During the offseason the Isles lost a significant part of their blue line when captain Mark Streit signed with thee Flyers, but the Isles got a whole lot grittier up front with the signing of Tasmanian Devil Cal Clutterbuck, who is annually among the NHL’s leading body checkers.

The Islanders also brought some clarity to their muddled goaltending situation by buying out Rick DiPietro, who will be paid $1.5 million for the next 16 years. The role of No. 1 goes back to Evgeni Nabokov, who signed a one-year extension on July 5.

The Isles are explosive up front but lack talent and depth on the blue line and that could hurt their playoff chances.  

Offseason Grade:  C

Will they make the playoffs in 2013-14:  No.