For a while now, the Islanders have been officially eliminated from the playoffs. Obviously, for this team, this is a massive failure. For the second season in a row, they have not made the playoffs, finishing even lower in the Standings this year than last. Unfortunately, this happened at an even worse time for the Islanders who now have lots of issues to solve over the summer. Before I get to that though, I want to mention a few things that have led to this poor season.
The first is horrible defense. This has been a problem for the team all season. It went to the point where Josh Ho-Sang (remember him?) called out the team for sending him down because of their defensive woes. The Islanders are most likely going to finish last in goals against and penalty kill on the season, which is a primary reason they aren’t in a playoff spot currently. Instead, they are sitting towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference just wondering what is going to happen this summer going into next season. I will admit, the Islanders have suffered their fair share of injuries during the season with defenseman losing De Haan for the entire year, and losing many other players for periods of time with injuries. This is still not an excuse though for how bad the defense has performed with or without injured players.
The second issue is inconsistent goaltending. To this point, the Islanders goaltending combined (Halak, Greiss, Gibson) has put up a save percentage of .899. That’s amongst the worse in the league, and combined with horrible defense, that is a recipe for disaster. Halak’s contract is up at the end of the season, so the Islanders will hope that Soderstrom or Sorokin will come to provide aid to the goaltending situation next season. However, Sorokin just extended his KHL contract, meaning the likelihood of him coming to the Islanders anytime soon is low. Without them, the Islanders are stuck with Gibson and Greiss. I already know now, that is not going to cut it for goaltending next season. This just leaves another question mark for the Islanders over the offseason.
The final problem, and something that has always been a problem for the Islanders, is asset management. Garth Snow and Doug Weight can be blamed for many of the teams problems. With the combination of not growing young players correctly, and giving out horrible contracts to bottom six players, they have honestly set this team up for absolute failure. If anyone has any answer that makes sense as to why Josh Ho-Sang is still in the AHL, and instead of letting him get more experience, Sebastian Aho was sent back down to the AHL please let me know. When a team does not make the playoffs, that gives them time to see what they have in the farm system, instead of seeing what has already not worked all season. At this point, Snow and Weight should both be fired, and you have to hope that Tavares stays. However, if Snow and Weight stay, and Tavares leaves, this team is in a world of hurt for even longer. The team needs a culture change, and the only way it will ever change are if Snow and Weight both are gone.
On the positive side, (because I didn’t want to rant to you guys the entire time) Mat Barzal has just reached the 80 point mark with the win over the Flyers at home last night 5-4. Barzal has made his case all year to why he should win the Calder Cup at the end of the year, but only time will tell as some impressive rookies are going into the playoffs with their respective teams. No matter if he wins it or not, Barzal has exceeded expectations, and hopefully he is able to continue that in his sophomore season.
In conclusion, the Islanders have a lot of work to do over the summer, and it could be quite a change for the organization. Only time will tell what the team and the organization will look like for the 2018-2019 season, but for now, I am glad that this dumpster fire of a season is almost over. As always if you have any comments or questions please feel free to reach out to me here or on our twitter page.