Tuesday we begin part three of our forward review with Richard Park, Andy Hilbert and Sean Bergenheim.
1. Andy Hilbert:
What can be written now that was not written a year ago about Andy Hilbert?
He can play defense, skates well and works hard which has kept him on the roster to this point but what he cannot do is finish.
He's had two years to follow up what he did in Pittsburgh but to this point has proven offensively he does not belong in a teams top nine forwards if you need a goal on one of the lowest scoring clubs in the NHL last year that just lost over forty goals. A third period where he missed a wide open net against the Rangers to date best sums up his Islander career in terms of his offensive play.
He played some center when Mike Sillinger went down and did not do a bad job, he also played some left wing on the first line with Guerin and Comrie and was visible with his effort but overall he is the wrong player for this team at this time on paper based on his Islander career to this point.
What's new is he has a coach who knows him from Providence in Scott Gordon. It's fair to write with Bergenheim, Comeau, Tambellini and Sim on the left and a host of third and fourth line centers (Sillinger, Nielsen, Walter, Park) even with his contract he has an uphill battle to keep a roster spot.
Andy Hilbert has a year left on his contract, I think he needs a dominating camp and some injuries to other forwards or I think he's in a trade or on waivers. On a team with limited offense his overall solid skating and defense is a luxury they cannot afford.
2. Richard Park:
It's going to be interesting to see what the coaching change does to Richard Park's status on this roster where he won over Ted Nolan and the fans with his effort.
He signed a two year extension so he will have a role but unlike last year I cannot see Scott Gordon playing him as Ted Nolan did because outside of his shorthanded play, skating and defense he simply cannot score enough to play in this club's top nine forwards. We saw it last season despite some timely scoring early but not nearly enough over eighty two games.
It's only a matter of when before his twenty-thirty game scoreless streak hits which has marked his career.
It's tough to see a spot for Richard Park here on paper but he will have one because of his contract.
I cannot see him on left wing for the same reasons as Hilbert. If Sillinger is healthy do you keep Nielsen from a roster spot for Park to play fourth line center to say nothing of Colliton or Walter?
So where do you play Park until an injury hits? Fourth line right wing where you want an enforcer or some marginal offensive upside like a Jackman or perhaps Joel Rechlicz for a game where you need a fighter dressed?
Park like Hilbert has a ton of character and grit to his game and will go through a wall for his team, but again he's not going to score and has no business being on the point for a powerplay.
This was a player who signed here on a tryout contract for a lot of reasons, the biggest one from here is his lack of scoring.
Plenty of questions, few answers.
3. Sean Bergenheim:
Bergenheim came back to the NHL last season off a years holdout, had to win over a new coach again and not only did that but was one of the few forwards who had a visible nightly impact where he was one of the hardest working forwards who created offense or powerplays by his ability to get into the dirty area's of the ice.
Few of the forwards even talk about him as a prospect because he plays like a veteran but many credited him for his effort at the end of the season, he is signed for the next two years.
Bergenheim's going to have to start all over again by continuing to do the same things under Scott Gordon because the left side is stacked with competition and unlike last year he's going to have to make strides in his ability to finish chances for goals and curb his temper which led to some good moments but also some penalties because of poor discipline or he could drop on the depth chart depending on how Tambellini, Comeau or Sim do.
Special teams play was solid for his limited looks, technically he has the hockey sense to make plays and elevate his game when needed and it's a skill that separates an NHL player from an AHL player. It will be interesting to see if a system change bring more offense out of Bergenheim, which has been the question since he was drafted in 2002 but I see him no lower than a third line left wing starting camp but that means someone plays fourth line and less minutes.
Hopefully an apparent injury at the World Championships is behind him.
I do not see Islander management changing him to a center given the depth at that position or the right side with Figren signed.
Next Up: Comeau, Okposo, Nielsen