1) Very quietly, and under the radar, is the possible, and apparent rebirth of hockey legitimacy on Long Island. We have been an out spoken critic of some of their bizarre moves over the last decade, so we wanted to congratulate the franchise. In our estimation they have earned that right. The biggest and most important news is the imminent approval of a new arena to replace the dilapidated and out of date Nassau Coliseum (It was out of date 5 years after its completion in 1971!) This more than any move cemented our belief that the franchise was about to come back from the dead. With this promise of brighter financial days, we could see Mr. Wang investing in his team. Not only with added salary but actually hire a complete front office team to compliment a well depleted team that seemed to comprise only Garth Snow (was he answering phones and season ticket orders too?)
2) Even before the arena news Garth Snow has been assembling an increasingly competitive team. Once the fall slide, that cost Scott Gordon his head coaching job, was over the team put together one of the best overall records in the conference from late December to April! The kids ( Tavares, Okposo, Comeau, Grabner, Parenteau, and Moulson) all seemed to arrive to have respectable seasons at once. We have to give Snow (and his staff?) credit for finding diamonds in the rough in landing Grabner, Parenteau and Moulson from the veritable NHL junk heap. Adding them to well hyped youngsters like Okposo, Hamonic, and Tavares to be one of the more formidable, if under known offensive teams in the East. Problems and holes remain ofcourse, and as assembled they are not yet close to being ready to compete for Conference supremacy, but respectability, yes!.
3) Big questions remain in goal where it seemed they had 10 or so goalies play for them. Speaking of the trash heap, Al Montoya, once a can't miss prospect for the Rangers was little more than an AHL back up in Phoenix when Garth Snow got a call from Phoenix GM Don Maloney. The ladder was inquiring if the Isles (in need of a warm body in goal) would be interested in the now 26 year old. The kid took the opportunity and ran with it. Compiling a very respectable 9-5-5 record in his 21 games with a team low GAA of 2.34 and save % of .921. While he's no longer a prospect the Cuban-American made the Isles goalie situation more cloudy (but in a good way!) With Rick Dipietro having 10 more seasons left, he has to be in the discussion, along with legit prospect in Kevin Poulin who looked decent in his 10 games in goal. If the Isles can solidify two solid back stops it would immediately make them a playoff contender in our opinion.
4) One has to also recall that the Isles played all of last season without their best defensemen in Mark Streit and significant time lost from the other 'Mark' in Eaton, both of whom are expected to be 100% by camp. That in of itself will significantly improve their back line even without an addition this offseason. The defense corps does need at least 2 more legit NHL-ers to compete, and it remains to be seen if Snow will try to land a UFA (not too many options this summer) or perhaps really shake things up and make an offer sheet for a top line RFA defender. Certainly the Isles have plenty of cap space to do that. The trade route is also a possibility, but unlikely Snow would part with his top 5 overall pick to fill that void.
5) To sum up we believe that the franchise has finally turned the corner and ready to return from the butt of NHL jokes to respectability in the league. There are still some land mines out there. Such as the coliseum vote getting nixed and or Snow Wang pulling some of their previous bone headed nonsense this summer. We believe that both have learned from their past mistakes and are ready to go forward more traditionally, and in the long run we think this will pay off with minimally a playoff run this season, if not a playoff berth!