Kukla's Korner Hockey
by William Morrison on 08/26/11 at 03:31 PM ET
From Chris Botta at NYI Point Blank:
“There’s no question in my mind. The Islanders are competitive again.”
This is what one of four NHL pro scouts told Point Blank this week for a preseason poll. Four out of four scouts surveyed were confident the Islanders will contend for a playoff berth in 2011-12.
“They’ll be in the playoff race in the East until the end,” said another. “I don’t see more than five teams running away with playoff positions by the start of March. All of the teams that didn’t make the playoffs got better in the offseason. I think this will be a wild playoff race. I wouldn’t be surprised if as many as 9 teams were fighting for the final 2 or 3 spots in late March. For the Islanders, it’s going to come down to how well their D and goaltending hold up.”
TII thoughts: I think the four scouts hit the question marks for this team right on the head. I don’t think many people would disagree that the Isles are going in the right direction and have a very talented group of young players. This team is still very, very young and it is going to be tough for such a young team to sustain consistency throughout the 82 game season. With the Isles still well below the salary cap floor, I remain confident that they will add one or two veterans before training camp. Adding a veteran would help prevent a falloff in mid-season production and consistency. Someone like McCabe would be a nice veteran addition to the blueline. Hopefully Josh Bailey will be signed in the near future and the team and Bailey can move forward. The scouts bring up another good point regarding off-season acquisitions in the Atlantic Division. With all of the off-season acquisitions in the division, it will be interesting to see which teams have improved from last season. With all this being said, it is one thing to contend for a playoff berth and it is a completely different thing to nail down a berth at the end of the season with other teams right there breathing down your neck. Adding someone who has been there before and knows how to handle themselves in playoff contention will be a key for this team.
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