August 21, 2008

8/21/08 - What Next?

Hey all, a quick note for the upcoming season:
Rather than join in the collective rabble that is becoming the NYI blog world, I'm deciding to again change and focus on something exclusive... something that I can bring other fans that nobody else can.

So, this fall I'll be putting out several pieces focusing on future Islanders playing within Hockey East, the NCAA division that includes Boston University, Boston College, UMass, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, among other elite college hockey schools.
From my reserved seat at BU's Agganis Arena, I'll be able to keep tabs on these players, especially Islanders 2008 2nd-round pick Corey Trivino, who will be starting his collegiate hockey career this fall in Boston. 

As always, questions, comments, rants, and other hockey related communiqué can be commented here or sent to afacini@bu.edu.

Here's 'til October!
Andy

March 24, 2008

03/24/08 - Out!

Well, we're out.

The math is in, and we are out. But any Isles fan could have told you that two months ago. In a season derailed by a record number of injuries and illnesses, this outcome was nearly inevitable.

But let's not lose hope.

I know, it's getting a bit old, and I wonder if this fanbase can take much more of these seasons, but we must not let the result of this season affect our attitude towards next year; there are a few good reasons to look towards next year.

  • Kyle Okposo
    His debut this year has not disappointed. He showed some jitters, but he showed that he can take his skills to the next level. With increased ice time, he will gain experience. I'm really excited to see Kyle develop because he's likely to be the best scorer we will have unless we make some serious moves. He said recently that he needs to be stronger, and he's right, but he has all summer to reflect on his NHL debut and to get ready for next year. In short: look out. And the fact that he's younger than I am in no way makes me feel lazy and old...

  • Existing depth
    This year, we saw just how deep our current roster is on many occasions. While many problems for this year's Islanders originated from the lack of scoring, the team had 10 players chipping in 20 or more points. Compared to most teams, this is definitely on-par. The problem simply lied in lack of a one or two leading scorers. But we did see players like Josef Vasicek, Richard Park, and Trent Hunter fill important roles on the roster. We also saw players like Sean Bergenheim and Bruno Gervais come into their own, and you can expect these players to really step up next year.

  • New youth
    The silver lining of the long injury list is the massive amount of experience the team was able to give to the young players. AHL call-ups Jeff Tambellini and Blake Comeau, as well as Tim Jackman and Aaron Johnson have seen received invaluable experience, and should bring a lot more to training camp next September than in past years. As veterans like Mike Sillinger and Bill Guerin near retirement, it appears that the Islanders will have skilled and experienced youth at the ready.

  • The draft
    Of course, here it is. The most obvious benefit of having a terrible season: an excellent draft position. And by all accounts, this year's draft is going to be great. There is an abundance of talent both at forward and at the blue line. And let's face it: we desperately need some at both. It would serve the team wonders if Garth could trade out some of those stockpiled late round picks - and possibly other options - for another first rounder. No need to worry, though. The Islanders are guaranteed a great addition to the team this year.
And it's not just the Islanders that have had a disappointing season. My Terriers, too, have seen a once-promising outlook be dashed in March. After a rousing comeback in 2008, they entered the playoffs against a lowly UMass Lowell. They dropped the River Hawks 2 games to 1, and moved on to the University of Vermont in the semifinals. In a single-elimination game, the Vermont Catamounts erased the 1-goal lead the Terriers held, and completely owned the game from the second period on. It was an unfortunate (and agonizing) elimination and end to a season full of hope.

But just like the Islanders, I was able to find highlights in a otherwise bleak ending. And my two hockey loves intersect, for once.

BU's rookie forward Colin Wilson showed the Hockey East what a real playmaker can do. His shifts were punctuated with quick transitions, big hits, and quality scoring chances. He literally controlled the play when he held the puck, and his creativity was worth the price of admission on many occasions.

He is eligible for this year's NHL entry draft, and is currently ranked 9th on the International Scouting Service's top ten prospect list. If the draft follows this ranking, the Islanders should be in prime position to select Wilson.

You know what I'm getting at. GET THIS GUY.

He would be a perfect fit on the team the Isles are trying to build. Wilson wold perfectly compliment Okposo's hustle, and could fill a necessary role at center. Of course, I'm saying this based on seeing his play this season, but that doesn't make it any less true. That is, it's possible there are better fits this year, but from what I've seen, Wilson would blow this team away.

So the team is giving it's best shot to get everything it can out of a failed season. Call up the youth and let 'em skate. Let's see what we have in stock, and plan our future from there. Let's go into the offseason with our heads up and our hopes high. Just once more, we can get excited for a building team. ... I nearly said "re-building" team, but... it seems the team doesn't really have a model team to build up from.

We can look forward to a solid draft, and a more experienced GM going into the free agency period. To the Islanders, thanks for the effort this year, and you can I'll be there next year.

Thanks for reading,
Andy

March 3, 2008

03/03/08 - Finally an Update

At the rate things are going (both for the Islanders and here at BU), I'm beginning to believe it will be impossible to post anything major anytime soon.

But rest assured, I am still here, and I will post when I believe I can contribute something significant to the discussion.

But for now, everyone has their opinions. It's going to be hard to forget last game's 52-shot shutout. The team is most likely going in the drink, and at least we can look forward to adding some prospects and hopefully building a killer team for the coming seasons. Definitely more on that later.

On that note, It may be worth considering that BU's Colin Wilson is a serious performer, and he literally controls the game when he has the puck. More on that later, too. I know a lot of BU players are from Long Island, so I figured I'll do a feature on them when the Hockey East season wraps up in the coming weeks.

Until then,
Andy