Defenseman: Radek Martinek – Age: 33
Believe it or not, Martinek got hurt this season and missed almost the entire year. Talk about an oddity. Looked good early on, as always, and you’re just left wondering what kind of season Radek could have if ever stays healthy for a full one. Will we ever know?
Defenseman: Freddy Meyer – Age: 29
No one was better for the Isles on defense the last two months of the season than Meyer. While size has always worked against his 5-foot-10-inch, 190 lb. frame, he played like a giant the last 30 games. His consistently physical, smart, errorless play in his own end was eye-opening and hopefully put him on Snow’s radar as a UFA they should seriously consider bringing back.
Defenseman: Mark Streit – Age: 32
The free agent signing of Streit remains Snow’s shining moment as a GM. The 32-year-old veteran is smooth as silk with the puck and just as smart without it. His on-ice leadership will be even more of a key for what could be a very young and very promising defense next season.
We just didn’t see enough of Dustin Kohn, Dylan Reese and Mark Flood to give a legit grade but we expect Kohn to compete for a spot next season along with 2009 first rounder Calvin de Haan, if his injured shoulder is ready. Should be the most competitive camp the Isles have had in years for defensemen.
Goalie: Martin Biron – Age: 32
Kind of a crazy season for Biron as he was in limbo for a good chunk of it, fully expecting to be dealt at the trade deadline. Rick DiPietro’s knee changed all that and once the clouds lifted, Biron finished the season strong. His 9-14 record was mostly a product of the Isles meager attack but as another UFA we can’t imagine he comes back to the Island for another season of the “As the DP World Turns” soap opera.
Goalie: Dwayne Roloson – Age: 40
As we said at the half-way point, you couldn’t ask for much more than the 40-year-old goalie provided. He finished 23-18 with a 3.00 GA and kept the Isles in a lot of games they had no business being in. The fact he turns 41 at the beginning of next season has to be a concern though.
Goalie: Rick DiPietro – Age: 28
Should room with Martinek so the Isles can save some hotel room money. On a more serious note, the organization has to be wondering what to do here. With 11 years left on a $67.5 million contract I suppose the good news is he’s still got plenty of time to heal…no?
Coach: Scott Gordon
As long as you don’t ask him any questions about the Isles’ horrid third periods, he’s fine. Entering the final year of his three-year deal, this coming season will really be the first one that he’s actually asked to win. In other words, those third periods are going to have to be a lot better or his next storm off camera could be his last.
Has handled this young club well and guided them through the rough waters of growing up in the NHL deftly. The lack of any reliable veteran presence up front has to have made this job far more difficult than Gordon ever could have envisioned—and that deficiency falls on Snow. This job gets interesting, and hopefully a lot more fun, beginning this Fall as we’ll really see what kind of head coach this guy is.
General Manager: Garth Snow
Has stuck to the plan and you have to say it essentially paid off this season as an 18-point improvement in the standings, with this young a roster, is nothing to sneeze at. Another high pick in June along with the continued development of previous picks have perhaps finally set up a promising future for Islander fans.
What Snow has to do in order to get this team to the next level is find a way to get a couple of solid veterans this summer to join his merry band of youngsters—specifically a veteran winger who can put the puck in the net (Alex Frolov?) and perhaps a big, nasty old fella for the defense (Garnet Exelby?).