The real fear here is the loss of anchor Mark Streit could send this ship adrift, but the veteran depth added during the off-season (James Wisniewski, Mike Mottau, Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina) should keep this group on course. Maturing Jack Hillen and Andrew MacDonald can’t afford to take backward steps and a healthy Radek Martinek would provide a big boost.
Good to see the team has taken the cautious route with 2009 first-round pick (12th overall) Calvin de Haan. There was talk early in camp that de Haan (19) might be asked to man the point for first team powerplay time after Streit went down. The aforementioned veteran depth that has been added affords Gordon/Snow the chance to do what’s right for de Haan as another year in the OHL will keep the kid’s development on the proper track.
Those other options for first team PP time on the point include Weight, Wisniewski, Martinek and Hillen. At 16 percent efficiency last season (27th worst) the only direction the PP can head is north, so there was truly no need to force feed de Haan.
Between the Pipes
The situation in goal is a coin toss: heads, DiPietro returns to form and stays healthy and 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson squeezes one more good year out of his ratty old pads, or tails, DP suffers yet another setback and Roloson starts looking every bit of those 41 years. The former could be a major key to a run at playoff spot and the latter spells complete disaster.
The often referred to injuries to both Streit and Okposo cloud the outlook for this season as few teams in the league can afford to have their two best players removed from the equation for any length of time. That being said, looks like another playoff-less spring on Long Island unless Gordon can squeeze some goals out of a few unexpected sources.
They’ll be continued progress but not enough to play beyond early April.
Predicted Finish: 36-34-12 – 84 points/11th place in Eastern Conference.
Isles Compete For Playoff Spot If:
• Kyle Okposo heals quickly and actually plays games prior to the New Year.
• Matt Moulson’s 30-goal 2009-10 wasn’t a fluke.
• Two other forwards (pick from Blake Comeau/Trent Hunter/Rob Schremp/Frans Nielsen/P.A. Parenteau) have surprise seasons a la Moulson last year.
• The defense collectively steps-up to soften the absence of Mark Streit.
• The goaltending holds up (DiPietro surprises all with a healthy season).
The Isles Compete For Lottery Pick If:
• John Tavares suffers any kind of a sophomore slump
• Their third periods resemble anything close to last season’s Chinese fire drills.
• Forwards aren’t more consistently physical as a group every night.
• Special teams don’t show measurable improvement over last season (PP – 16%/PK 76.3%).