August 26, 2007

8/26/07 - The Case for Bergeron

Early this week, it became apparent that the Islanders will have defenseman Bryan Berard try-out at training camp this year. Berard, who will be testing his injury-prone back and poor eyesight for a shot at a job, would be expected to fill the role of offensive defenseman with his powerful shot and offensive skill. But can too many cooks ruin a power play unit? Let's not forget one of the scoring defensemen we already have.

At 5-10, 197-lbs, Marc-Andre Bergeron is not the biggest defender there is, and due to his size, he will probably be forced to give up some ice time against the bigger forwards. He won't be able to fill the same role that Brendan Witt, Andy Sutton, and Radek Martinek will.

But with that said, his clear niche is the power play, where he can regularly deliver that booming shot of his. Since the start of his playing career in 2003, he has been touted as a power play quarterback, much along the lines of Berard and McCabe. It's surprising to me that so many people are writing Bergeron off of their lineups so soon. Given the right circumstances and teammates, he shines.

Consider this: in 55 games with Edmonton last year, Bergeron totaled 25 points and was -9. In the short 23 games he played with the Islanders, he earned 21 points, was +5, and his shooting percentage rose to 11%. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come. At this rate, if Bergeron had played the full season with the Islanders, he would have tallied 21 goals and had 54 assists, for a total of 75 points. Tom Poti, although assuming a similar role on the powerplay, only scored 6 times and earned 44 points last season.

Would a power play unit benefit from having two shooters the likes of Bergeron and Berard at the point? Or would the focus on offense leave a dangerous gap for a shorthanded rush? To me, the best situation would be two separate power play lines with one point-shot on each, paired with a bigger, defensive-minded defenseman. Although Berard is bigger than Bergeron (6-2, 220-lbs), he lacks in physical play and can often forget that he is a defenseman. And let's not forget that Campoli has shown some offensive promise of his own.

With the kind of potential we're looking at next year from Marc-Andre, we may want to look at Berard as a wait-and-see luxury. If he meshes well at camp, he could find a solid place on this team. But for what the Islanders do have, he may have a tough time breaking into the defensive corps.

So when we want to make predictions as to who will have a "career year" in '08, let's not count out Marc-Andre Bergeron, who stands to impress a lot of people this year.

August 25, 2007

8/25/07 - A New Look

Hey all, sorry for the brief period of downtime as I fixed the blog template. But as you can see, I've finally got the colors working better, and added a new background image! Please, if you have a second, give me some feedback on the poll to the right! Or, if you really have some great ideas, criticism, or otherwise interesting words to get out, leave a comment.

Thanks,
-Andy

August 17, 2007

8/17/07 - Sizes, Prices, and Cut

Since yesterday, many questions have come up regarding the new RBK Edge uniform for our Isles. The Islanders' order form was oddly vague, and offered little as far as choice and quality.

It also appears that the uniforms being pre-ordered by the Islanders are the replica cut, and even customized for $210, are not the same as those featured by the team.

But it seems that the NHL.com store has other, cheaper plans in store. Offered today was the "Premier" cut of the Isles RBK Edge home and away jerseys, in sizes ranging from Small to XX-Large, two sizes more than currently offered by the Islanders. It appears that "Premier" is to the new RBK Edge uniforms as "Replica" was to the old.
The NEW 2007 New York Islanders Premier Jersey from Reebok® is made of high-quality polyester two-way stretch pique fabric and has solid mesh inserts for ventilation. This officially licensed jersey is engineered to duplicate the on-ice team jersey. The front crest is embroidered just like the authentic jersey and the single layer screen printed tackle twill shoulder patches (where applicable) are sewn directly to the jersey.
But the real kicker is that the price on NHL.com is actually cheaper than those on the Islanders' pre-order. At $115, they are slightly more reasonable than the pre-order pricing.

As of now, customization of these Premier uniforms seems unavailable, but at these cheaper prices, it would probably be best to order one plain at this price, and have it customized later. Who knows, maybe then you can omit the number on the upper chest and add a "C" or "A" for your respective player.

So far no word on the Authentic cut of the Edge uniforms, but I'll keep an ear out for anything more about these new uniforms and their pricing and details.
Thanks for reading.

Update - 8/18:
Just an interesting, yet small, note: IceJerseys.com is currently offering preorders of the "Authentic" cut of the new Islanders uniforms, at a fairly reasonable price of $250.

August 16, 2007

8/16/07 - New Uniforms Unveiled

Put this one to bed, folks. After months of speculation, nerves, and flying rumors, the Islanders today unveiled their official RBK Edge uniforms for next season. And let me say, they are very sharp indeed.

As you can see, the new uniforms are indeed the ones noted previously in the leaked photos and some renderings. Orange sleeves, broken with white and blue stripes, shoulder area etched with opposite colors, thinner stripes at the waist, and a larger logo. All of these things have grown on me quite a bit, especially the new geometry and stripe design at the waist. It may look strange on its own, but I think it will really make the uniform look less awkward when it is on somebody.

However, there is one detail I am not too happy with, and I'm sure most of you already know what I mean. The numbers on the front of the uniform. If there is anything else that could have made the uniforms look like NFL jerseys, please let me know. It's not like it will help people in the stands or watching on TV recognize the players any better. To me, it's an unnecessary feature that only clutters the front of the uniform.

But don't get me wrong. I really like these uniforms. They are sharp, bright, and most importantly, didn't change the overall look of the team. Sure they aren't exactly the royal blue traditional uniforms many of us were hoping for, but there is word that next year there will be a royal blue 3rd jersey. I'll keep my ears out for anything to that effect. Until then, thank you to everyone who helped along the long wait for this day. It's really indicative of the whole fanbase that we had so many people out there sending in photographs, drawing up their own renditions, and even meeting with the team. It really made for an exciting offseason.

Thanks for reading.


Follow-Up - 4:00pm

For your convenience, here are the pricing and details for the uniform pre-order, which is now being offered via the Islanders official website.
Current sizes available: S, M, L, XL (adult only)

Non-season ticket holders:
> Non-customized uniform - $135
> Customized w/name & number - $210

Season ticket holders:
> Non-customized uniform - $75
> Customized w/name & number - $150

Pick-up at the Islanders team store: Free
Shipped: add $17
Not too unreasonable, especially given the supposedly nicer material that they are made of. And with the new dimensions and cut, hopefully the uniforms will look better for everyday wear, as well.

But, as with most things with this team, nobody will agree 100% on the new look. But the one thing that every fan will agree on is simple: put a winning team on the ice, and it won't matter what they are wearing.
Let's go Islanders.

August 15, 2007

8/15/07 - Isles add Vasicek, Depth

It wouldn't be late summer if you could actually recognize the Islanders team, would it? But as I like to look at it, change is good. And as for a team that lost nearly all of their top players in July, we'll take all the depth we can find.

Today, the Islanders signed depth forward Josef Vasicek. At 26, the large-framed center brings a lot to the defensive end of the forwards. From how he is described, he is another classic 'Nolan-type' player.

And that's a phrase I've heard less and less of since the draft. In all the stress and confusion of the free agency period, especially considering the amount of pure... loss the Isles have seen, we seem to be forgetting that the organization is building a team around a belief. While I wanted to keep Jason Blake on Long Island, I knew that he didn't exactly fit into the team's mold for the future. That's probably why there was never a heavy pitch to keep him around. In the same motion is the effort to sign players that, -- like Vasicek -- show grit, character, and a good work ethic.

If this means that we will have to wait to build our team, I am fine with that. But with the progress that Garth and Co. has made over the span of the summer -- especially given the "dire" circumstances -- I think that we might all be in for a surprise next year.

August 13, 2007

8/13/07 - Back in Business

Hey all,
I'm back at the helm, with a freshly tuned computer and a fresh look at the Islanders community. The summer is beginning to wind down, and as any good hockey fan knows, that means things are just getting started for another year.

But it also means that I'll soon be returning to Boston... a place where there are no Islanders, only Bruins. But that's only going to redouble my efforts here. After all, following the team from afar is what I do; it's why I'm writing here.

Though this week brought some Islanders news I couldn't be here to cover, there will assuredly be plenty more as this summer ends, as training camp begins, and right through until the drop of the puck on October 5th.

As I continue participating (as much as I can) in the Islanders community, I thank all of you for reading and supporting my writing. For a blog writer, there is nothing better than getting feedback from readers. Whether it is in a comment to a post, or simply seeing readers return on a regular basis, I really appreciate the support.

Thanks again, and here's to a great team in '08!
Andy Facini

August 4, 2007

8/04/07 - Downtime

Due to computer repair and a short time spent away from home, Islanders Castaway will be unattended for a little over one week. Apart from (very) major developments, there will be a lull in updates until next Monday at the earliest.

You can find all the latest Islanders related news, rumors, and discussion from any of the fine sites in IslesNet, located on the right-hand side of this page.

As always, thanks for reading!

August 3, 2007

8/03/07 - Hunter Gets a Raise

Though not the full asking price for Trent, an arbitrator ruled that Trent Hunter's salary for 2007-08 will rise to $1.55M. As expected, the Islanders accepted the ruling. I couldn't put it better than Garth himself:
"Letting Trent go was never a consideration for us," said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. "He's an important piece to our team; that was never up for debate. We're glad he'll be in an Islanders uniform in September."
He really is the future of this team, on and off the ice. Can't wait to see what he does in the upcoming season. He is on track to have a career year, being an UFA next summer.

August 1, 2007

8/01/07 - Hunter at Arbitration

Today, clutch forward Trent Hunter and the Islanders made their cases in front of an NHL arbritator. There is no news regarding the meeting or its outcome, but there will surely be some details.

Check back here often, as well as all the sites in IslesNet for the lastest updates on the case; they may come as early as tonight.

UPDATE 9:10PM:
According to Newsday, a ruling on today's meeting is expected by Friday. The meeting was reported as being "amicable".

We can hope for a very positive outcome for both sides. I am sure today's meeting was smooth, unlike the Sean Avery arbitration.