Kukla's Korner Hockey
by William Morrison on 08/28/11 at 03:18 PM ET
With rookie camp beginning September 10th and full team practices beginning on September 17th, TII looks at five questions for the Islanders heading into training camp.
1. What will happen with the Josh Bailey contract negotiations?
Bailey and the Isles really need to come to an agreement before training camp begins or it could start getting ugly. Owner Charles Wang will stick to his strategy that no player will be on the team during the season if they are not signed before training camp. One sticking point in contract negotiations may be the length of the deal. The Islanders have a lot of good centers on their team and have a lot of good center prospects in their system. While Bailey is still very young at 21, he needs to begin producing in line with being the 9th overall draft pick or the Isles may be forced to go in a different direction. There has been a lot of trade speculation about Bailey and I think the Isles may still be looking to add a veteran defenseman before the season starts. If the Isles are committed to Bailey, they need to sign him in the very near future or things could get ugly. I think the team and Bailey will come to an agreement soon, but it is not as much of a guarantee as once thought.
2. Will GM Garth Snow pull the trigger on acquiring a veteran?
While Snow recently told the NY Post that he doesn’t have plans to add a veteran forward, he left the door open by saying that he’s not ruling anything out. I think it would help such a young team to add both a veteran forward and a veteran defenseman before training camp starts, whether it be via trade or free agency. I agree with Snow that the Islanders don’t want to “box out the young guys,” but the team certainly needs some veteran leadership on this team if they want to make the playoffs. The offseason acquisition of Brian Rolston certainly helps, but a veteran blueline addition would only give this young team more leadership.
3. Will Nino Niederreiter make the team?
Nino has nothing left to prove in the minors after putting up two very strong seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. Even if Nino has an average training camp, I think he earns himself a spot on the Islanders to start the season. Nino is certainly physically ready to play in the NHL and has a very bright future ahead of him. All indications are that #25 will start the season on Long Island. Snow has publicly stated that he wants to give Nino every chance to make the team and I think it is definitely Nino’s spot to lose.
4. Who will be the starting goaltender on October 8th?
While Rick DiPietro is the incumbent, no one should find it certain that he is going to start the season in net for the Isles. DiPietro has proven that he is very injury prone. The Islanders will not keep DiPietro in the NHL just because of his huge contract. If Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya beat out DiPietro in camp, then they will be the two goaltenders that start the season on the island. If Nabokov sets his mind straight and focuses on making this team, he could start the season as the Isles #1 goaltender. The Islanders may use Nabokov as trade bait if he has a positive start to the season-we will just have to see how things play out.
5. Will Mark Streit be 100% healthy when the season starts?
Streit missed all of last season and is coming off of two serious shoulder injuries. All indications are that Streit is fully recovered, but it may take him a while to get back into game shape. Coach Jack Capuano will also most likely ease Streit back into playing the minutes that he played in his first two season with the Islanders. Streit is arguably the most important part of this team and it will be very important for Streit to be healthy and productive all season if the Isles want to make a serious playoff push.
The Islanders Informer
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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