I have posted enough uninformed previews from several websites since the blog started to get me through to next summmer when they start up again. Seems the only one that came close was John McGourty of NHL.com and he did not give any prediction.
Today it's my turn to do my own prediction on the 2007-08 Islanders.
Usually every year I have done this I would claim Islanders could finish anywhere from fourth or fifth to about twelth. This year it really could go anywhere from fifth to fifteenth and the usual factors come into play:
Health, chemistry, talent, competition that could change everything.
Anyone who has followed the conference with the exception of the 02-03 season where an Islander team with eighty three points finished eighth, we all know you need around ninety two points and be about ten games over five hundred, especially in a league where clubs get points for shootouts and overtime.
With that said overall I see this team taking the sixth spot it should have taken last year if DiPietro was not injured.
* This is a club Snow and Nolan put together. Granted they did not get to keep Smyth and maybe Poti but everyone else they clearly did not want back which is something most of these previews did not tell anyone. In fact, most told us the opposite or talked about Nassau Coliseum which is kind of silly consideing two other home arena's in this division are older.
They did not get their first choices in free agency but they did get players they feel have upside infront of them who will work hard if nothing else. Nolan and Snow both have a year under their belts now and got a good look at the league last year and worked from their list of players who fit what they are trying to do. They also added players used to winning and playing at a championship level. Given individiual player results from last year why would anyone think they do not have a knack for adding players who they can get the most from?
* Most of these previews did not consider DiPietro had to face the most shots per gamde on avg last year and still was sixth in save percentage because they were still too busy talking about his contact or ignoring Lundqvist faced the least shots in the second half. We also know this year's group has more options and will likely not have to use an Alan Rourke or a Drew Fata. They did give up on Poti but he's not a franchise defender and a year ago was hardly in demand. Some of these kids show good potential or at the very least the group should be faster and stay out of the box more. Expectations should be that DiPietro could even improve on last season if protected better.
* It's incredible a club that had a pp-penalty disparity of minus ninety qualified for the playoffs and was in sixth a majority of the time a year ago. Islanders got faster up front and on the backline so it's not unrealistic those numbers take a dramatic cut which would go a long way toward another playoff spot and take even more pressure off the defense and goaltender.
* Isles did not have a first line most of last season outside of when Simon, Yashin and Blake were producing early. Someone tell me why Fedotenko, Comrie and Guerin will be worse when they should be better? Mike York and Randy Robitaille did not produce in the second line center's position, how can Vasicek or anyone else do any worse? Sillinger-Hunter and whoever is the left wing should again have stretches where they produce like a first line. For all Kozlov's numbers last year he would have one great game and then disappear for ten games. Better bet a Bergenheim or Tambellini will be more visible nightly and the same can be said for Sim. Satan had a tough year scoring last year and is in a contract year and now he has more speed on his line.
* Chemistry is a tough thing to forecast on a team with so many new faces this early but most of the players who were a good part of the team chemistry a year ago are back. In the lockeroom Guerin should be a huge upgrade over Yashin in terms of bringing players together which should also help Sillinger and Witt.
On the ice only concern in terms of chemistry lost is what Hill brought when he was on his game with Witt. That said the penalty minutes should go do down as the groups speed goes up. The backline is not durable as a unit but they have more options going in then they did last season. Asking for another healthy year from Witt could be asking too much but on the flip side Martinek should be able to stay healthy.
* One thing none of the club previews talked about was the offensive improvement Bergeron and likely Berard bring to a defensive group that could not score last season. A healthy Campoli should at least provide the numbers he did as a rookie, Gervais is a year older and also led the AHL in scoring for defenders one year, look out if the improvement in Martnek's transition game extends to his offensive game. Any reason Meyer cannot return to his offensive production he had in Philadelphia if he get's a spot on the backline?
As I wrote in the opening anything can happen in terms of injury but all things being even I cannot see this club lower than sixth.