Saturday, we present part two of our preview on the Islander forwards. Part one was done here on Friday.
Satan is in the final year of the three year contract he signed with the club after being bought out by the Buffalo Sabres so he has a lot riding on this upcoming season. To this point Satan has not been the star player he was in earlier years but did get his numbers in his first season. On this team he's been more a streaky scorer and in year one was moved to the second line right wing spot. Last year Ted Nolan kept him in that role for the most part and he disappeared for long stretches and in the playoffs.
Satan will do whatever is asked of him but looked lost as a pp point man early last season and maybe that played a role in his very slow start. He did turn into a descent penalty killer, but he makes his money to be an offensive impact player and score goals. His impact goals were few and far between besides one notable goal to tie a game with NJ in the final seconds to go with the final peirod of game five in the playoffs where he scored a goal and was robbed in the last ten seconds of another goal.
Satan still has a devastating wrist shot and great hands in front of the net that will be a huge part of his success of failure on next year's team but he seems far more reluctant to use his slap shot then he did in Buffalo. The bad news is Satan is painfully slow and considering the Isles team speed in prior years this hindered him and made him far easier to contain. More bad news is he will likely not have a proven second line player on his wing with second line scoring credentials. The good news is with a Bergenheim/Tambellini left wing and healthy Josef Vasicek playing at center he should find more time and space to take his shot. Other teams a few times got physical with him and he defended himself adaquetly.
Satan has to turn back the clock a little this year on a club where his production will be a must. Nolan must have a big offensive year from him and whoever his line mates are must be able to not only get him the puck where he does his scoring.
Vasicek was signed a few weeks ago to a one year contract. Because he plays center and the Islanders need Sillinger on a checking line he's the best bet at this time to center the second line. He brings championship experience from Carolina but also brings a lot of injury and production/motivation issues which have hindered him. Some
felt his trade back to Carolina where he had his best season would spark his game and it did not happen which is a major red-flag. Many claim his potential is still in front of him while others claim he's simply not that good or motivated. Garth Snow and Ted Nolan intend to find out.
In terms of skill set Vasicek is the same package former Islander Oleg Kvasha brings to the table. Size, a good shot, occasional big games where he makes scoring look easy but does not have Kvasha's outstanding skating ability. I really do not know much more at this time or how he was used by Nashville or Carolina and I'm curious as to his defensive game. What I do know is Ted Nolan is going to try and bring Vasicek's potential to the forefront and will get his opportunity. He's going to have to produce and be able to set up his wingers.
For Vasicek, six goals and limited nightly impact is not going to work on a team like this. Almost every player is being asked to do more and is being given more opportunity. Vasicek either shows up from day one of camp and makes the second line center position his or he could find himself on the fourth line or in the
press box. After a trade, one year of UFA and only a 650k offer late in August after a six goal season, Vasicek could find himself out of the NHL if he does not step up this year so no doubt he will be highly motivated.
Easy for me to put Bergenheim on a left wing in August after being locked out by the club for a full season but on paper is the best choice at this time. Islander fans and especially Sound Tiger fans saw Bergenheim's grit, speed and potential with both clubs in 2005-06 which clearly are that of a first round draft pick who can play in a teams top six forwards. Bergenheim also showed this last year after returning to the SEL from Russia in-season. Problem here is the same Chris Campoli had last season when he was finally ready to return in December. He's going to have to start from scratch and win over Ted Nolan or he could find himself back in Bridgeport with his one-way contract. Nolan does not care about 2005-06, he cares about 07-08 and what this player can do for this team now and that will decide where and how he will be played.
Bergenheim's skill set is an impressive one. Considered the fastest player in his draft class, grit and the ability to know when to use it to draw penalties. Good passing and defensive skills. Questions on Bergenheim revolve around his hands and his finishing skills since he was drafted but no doubt the ability is there and I see his as part of the solution long-term.
This is Bergenheim's year to step up and show what he can do and my guess is he will get the best opportunity and hopefully no bad feelings linger from last year. Jeff Tambellini has experience as this club's second line left wing with Satan and did play here last season. Tambellini has superior offensive skills, but all other area's favor Bergenheim on paper. One thing Nolan will never tolerate is a player speaking out as Bergenheim did when he was sent to Bridgeport at the beginning of
05-06. He's going to have to keep quiet and produce on a team with a lot of underachievers. He has the speed and skills to open the ice for a lot or forwards. To me, the most interesting player to watch going into this years camp.
Next up Forwards Pt Three: