by PuckStopsHere on 12/08/13 at 07:09 PM ET
Last season the New York Islanders were a surprise playoff team. They took the eighth seed in the East Conference and some saw them as a team on the rise. That hasn't happened so far this year. The main reason for this is poor goaltending. Evgeni Nabokov was expected to be their number one goalie. At age 38, he no longer seems capable of playing at the NHL level. In 14 games played he has posted a 3.30 GAA and a .892 saves percentage.
There is no proven backup on Long Island. Kevin Poulin has done little to prove he is NHL worthy. He had played 21 games over three seasons but accomplished nothing too noteworthy. This year he is proving he isn't capable of a regular NHL job. He is posting a 3.15 GAA and a .888 saves percentage through fourteen games played.
In an effort to find another goalie when Nabokov went down with injury, the Islanders have tried Anders Nilsson. He has four unspectacular NHL games played in 2011/12 and hasn't done very well in the AHL since then. In four games so far this year he has posted a 3.26 GAA and an .883 saves percentage.
None of these goalies looks like he is capable of NHL play. Nabokov once was, so there is hope that when he gets healthy it can happen again. Even if it does, the Islanders need an NHL capable goalie. The short-term answer suggested in the media is to trade for Ryan Miller. He is a UFA this summer and Buffalo would like to trade him. Usually players who are pending free agents are traded to contenders. The Islanders are not contenders, but perhaps with above average goaltending they would be in the playoff race.
The Islanders really need a goalie who will be reliable for several years into the future. Miller is likely to leave when he attains free agency. He isn't a long-term solution. Who is? Unless the Islanders can find a steady goalie, this team will be out of the playoffs for a long time.
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