Today NYIFC reviews the New York Islanders 2009-10 season on the backline.
For a team with so many goals allowed/shots against, which includes a lot of poor special teams play ranked at the bottom of the league, a lot of high individual grades to be given out. Team defense is about five players, not two defenders.
Cannot grade individuals on lack of size, even though unit overall lacked it badly, especially after Sutton-Witt left which Scott Gordon made very clear.
Played 82 games, well over twenty five minutes in most of them and despite his numbers dropping on a club with scoring problems/special teams problems was the club's best player most night's with an outstanding defensive game.
Mark Streit to me was this teams MVP over Dwayne Roloson.
Played sixty nine games and looked every bit the first rounder Garth Snow felt he signed and only getting better. Solid defense, good offensive instincts and composure with puck that is not something taught but instinctive. After getting a slapshot to the face from Ovechkin came back and really did not miss a beat.
What do you write about someone who comes up in mid-season and plays so well he is on the ice almost twenty five minutes a game in every clutch situation, with a plus four rating? As I wrote once or twittered he has a lot of Kenny Morrow/Radek Martinek cool under pressure about his game and just moves the puck. This player also has an offensive upside and a physical game that is only getting better.
Seems like after the Sutton trade (and before at times) he took his game to the next level, that has been seen before in spurts however nothing like this. He drove net, was hitting players clean/drawing powerplays with some very solid play and showed the offensive game from his Flyer days as a rookie.
I wrote recently he should get another contract here, however the size issue on the backline and the prospects waiting may make that a problem. Also he had a lot of uneven games early and more than a few re-directions go in off him for goals or plays that led to goals in what was a very poor start to the season.
Season Grade B-
Early season D
Later season A
I don't understand how a player who has several games over twenty minutes and can be so consistent/excellent one night, can struggle so badly with mistakes, pucks deflected off of him or misreads the next? It takes five to make a bad play/line change sometimes but in Gervais case there are more than fair questions to ask why such inconsistency? It's obvious he is trying and doing all he can every single game. I have no doubt he is pressing all the time to do better because all I read is how much character this player has and how hard he works.
How does Calvin deHaan, Travis Hamonic, Dustin Kohn among several prospects and possible bigger, veteran free agents with a physical game not challenge him for his spot, despite being signed?
I absolutely can see a trade here.
As a 2005 second rounder he finally got his callup and was given limited minutes, however did not look out of place with steady play the more he was used down the stretch. He may win a spot next season but has a lot of competition for a job.
Garth Snow kept him out of Bridgeport's games during the entire Olympic break and more, that to me is an indication he is coming closer to an NHL roster spot.
A few mistakes where he got burned for goals, but mostly a lot of steady play and a solid shot from the point. This career AHL player who was traded to Bridgeport was a plus four in nineteen NHL games on a team deep in negative goal differential, how is this not a good job?
His career record says he is not an NHL player, his time here says he is more than capable of playing regularly but again there is the other prospects and a ton of competition. I also expect he needs to be re-signed. Did Garth Snow/scouting staff see him as they did Matt Moulson as someone who can make the NHL?
Mark Flood-Anton Klementyev:
Mark Flood did not play poorly but a lot was asked to come up late in season, Anton Klementyev who was drafted, signed by Isles instead of him playing in CHL went to Bridgeport, went to WJC but was spotted all season. He played March 13th, had that one game with Isles and never played another game for Bridgeport despite not being hurt after he was sent back.
Very strange situation for someone who likely was better served playing full time than sitting for a fair part of the winter, but he sure did have a full season for a player drafted last summer.
More questions than answers for both and no grades.
Before Sutton was traded he was having his best NHL season, the smart hits (before suspension against Pens) changed a lot of games, he stepped into play early and like I have seen before played so well, other clubs tried to fight him to get off ice. Having written all this I remember how easily he again got hurt and missed time.
I cannot see him at this age staying healthy long-term because that is not his career resume. I do not see a spot for him on this defense, despite a possible desire to return.
His time here last season he seemed to be hurting for long stretches before he got hit by a truck in Philadelphia which was good for jokes, however did not divert from poor play. Witt did have some bad breaks/re-directions go off of him for goals, what toughest to watch were big hits he was taking from opposing players far too often combined with a lack of quickness that led to chances and goals by opposition, his plus-minus was impossible to dismiss as just a stat along with the reduced minutes Scott Gordon played him.
It seemed like after opener when he targeted Ruslan Fedotenko we never saw that level of hitting again, he had those two goals against Edmonton which were just poor play by Oiler net-minder.
When you go on waivers and clear you have to prove yourself all over again. and the good news is everything I have read out of Bridgeport says he has been completely healthy playing three games over three days several times and did not miss a single game. He has since left the club during the Sound Tigers playoffs because his father in-law has been sick. Everything written/quoted from from by Witt, Sound Tigers coach Jack Capuano and players with Bridgeport suggest he is the same classy, character player he has been here since he the first day he came to New York.
With a year left on his contract, having to clear re-entry waivers anything is possible. I expect like John Sim he may get a fair chance to win back his NHL spot but unlike Sim there are few spots available with his physical play being his biggest advantage on a smaller defense.
NHL Grade D.
I will repeat every review of Martinek I have given for years. One of the best moving the puck in traffic in the NHL when healthy, a few poor stretches but also able to knock over Ovechkin/Malkin and raise his game to go one on one against them but simply is not durable or able to protect himself from hits/circumstances that put him out for several months.
When Martinek's skate is caught in a rut, that is not his fault, when he turns the wrong way or does not brace himself knowing someone is going to finish a check, that is something else. He has also played hurt and returned from injuries far quicker than expected over the years.
He was reportedly skating at the end of this season after surgery, he is signed for next season. Who do you hold back on a small defense or do you limit his role if he is able to play? The prospects have to play and this defense has to get bigger by Scott Gordon's own comments, but you can never have enough players of Martinek's ability.
Garth Snow's toughest off-season decision in terms of his current defense. One I would not want to make because when he is on his game, he is one of the best in the league.
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