I absolutely see a trade coming from the defense with seven one-way contracts, also it appears they need a scoring forward or two, with virtually no spots available up front right now.
I cannot see Calvin deHaan or Travis Hamonic making the NHL together, nor do I see one of them waiting another two years if they show anything in camp. Only management knows if Nino Niederreiter, Kirill Petrov or anyone from class of 2010 will enter camp with a shot at an NHL roster spot.
With European leagues starting soon, plus NHL camps a month away, things will pick up in what's been a very slow market with the salary cap.
You can make a reasonable case the Islanders in some ways are improved on paper, but that means nothing. You are finally improved when you win games that you used to lose.
We don't know what new signing may win a job, or if other veteran forwards are coming in a transaction, Matt Moluson taught us that very well last season, everyone has a chance.
Andy Sutton, Freddy Meyer had outstanding stretches for long periods of the season, a year ago. How much better can James Wisniewski, Mark Eaton or Milan Jurcina do individually?
My point is it's not about individual play.
Team defense is about chemistry in a five man unit, forwards block passing lanes or getting in front of shots. It's about how the defenders clear the puck, breakout passes, or ability to win battles along the boards. The center's defensive play in front of his goalie, and skating the puck out of dangerous areas.
Last year this team struggled in those areas shorthanded and at even strength, allowing too many shots or goals against, with too much pressure on them forcing icings, or uneven play.
In those stretches the parade of penalties would come.
Names mean nothing without chemistry.
For all thirty teams, we will not know who is improved until the puck drops and we see how teams work as a unit.
For myself, the biggest 2010-11 potential improvement will come in the young players coming back, a year older and more developed from Tavares, Bailey, Okposo, MacDonald, Hillen.
Frans Nielsen has to return and produce, Matt Moulson has to score his goals, Comeau has to produce over 82 games and not soft goals he was credited with down the stretch. If Trent Hunter is not traded, he must produce consistently over eighty two games.
As for the next month we'll see, I'm expecting changes.
Perhaps Jesse Joensuu, Robin Figren, David Ullstrom, or Matt Martin (or another prospect) comes in and earns a spot or Garth Snow wants to give them a full chance before going in another direction.
This is why you draft players, sign them, and develop them.
I would not expect an Eastern conference again where Philadelphia, Boston, Montreal and Ottawa qualified for the playoffs with brutal stretches of uneven play in 2009-10.
Right now, things are only on paper, that means nothing.
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