The New York Islanders took a step in the right direction last postseason, advancing past the first round for the first time since 1993. With that success comes increased expectations, so Garth Snow set out to improve the roster that was already moving ahead.
Long-time Islanders Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo were allowed to sign elsewhere, replacing the pair were Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd. Youngsters Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier were deemed ready for the NHL as well.
The season started on Thursday night for the Islanders, and could not have gone worse. Not only were they defeated by their arch-rival, the New York Rangers, but they looked helpless for a large portion of the action. Newcomers Chimera and Ladd combined to a minus-4 rating and zero points, while Barzal was scratched and Beauvillier’s passes found the Rangers’ sticks more often than his own.
The new-New York Islanders hardly enthused, but the old ones thrived.
For the New York Rangers, Michael Grabner scored the opening tally against his former club. Grabner pocketed in a rebound, the first sign of a long night to come for Islanders fans.
In Detroit, former Islanders Thomas Vanek and Frans Nielsen teamed up to score the first three goals of the night for the Red Wings. The player the Islanders traded for Vanek, Matt Moulson, scored the Buffalo Sabres’ first goal of the season.
P.A. Parenteau rejoined the Islanders this summer, but was jettisoned late in the offseason in a surprise move. Parenteau was expected to play on the top line with John Tavares and Andrew Ladd, but instead he was placed on waivers at the end of the preseason.
The New Jersey Devils claimed Parenteau and placed him in their top six, a move the club was immediately rewarded for. Parenteau scored the Devils’ only goal in their first game of the season against the Florida Panthers.
Friday and Saturday didn’t fare much better for the Islanders.
Former captain Mark Streit scored for the Flyers on Friday, and Parenteau notched an assist on Saturday. His helper gave him a pair of points in a pair of games, while the Islanders forwards had another off night in Washington.
New York fell to the Capitals 2-1, with John Tavares’ line being held scoreless once again. Ladd and Tavares managed only three shots on goal combined, with linemate Jason Chimera tallying one shot on goal and a poorly timed penalty to boot.
Mathew Barzal checked into the lineup for the first time, only to find himself in the box on two consecutive penalties early in the first period. The Islanders looked listless outside of a power play goal by Ryan Strome, while their former talent succeeded elsewhere.
A few nights shouldn’t make a major difference in the way the Islanders feel about their roster construction, but it is certainly worth noting how much talent has left the team.
Kyle Okposo has yet to play for his new team, the Islanders lost the chance to draft 21st in 2015 due to the Moulson for Vanek swap, and Nino Niederreiter is a top-six forward for the Minnesota Wild. The Islanders sill have a fair amount of talent throughout the lineup, but it’s hard not to second-guess some of these moves after a dismal weekend.
Considering the roster construction overall, one must wonder if the Islanders could use a P.A. Parenteau or Kyle Okposo. Jason Chimera isn’t generally considered a top-line talent, while Cal Clutterbuck is utterly lost on the power-play.
New York opted to extend Casey Cizikas over paying their skill players, and the returns haven’t been fruitful. This may have only been one weekend, but it certainly looks like it could be one page in a book of questionable decisions by upper management.
Perhaps the next step should be sending one of the three goalies away to add to the “former Islanders” list, and bring back a new Islander to help a team that looks like it has taken a step back.