In many past years I would put the New York Islanders in the final playoff seed or last year, the pick was anywhere from second to fifteenth.
2007-2008: Sixth Place
2008-2009: Sixth Place
This year we are going to go with a novel idea, and it's not based on doing a lazy preview, however one based on not only the New York Islanders, but the Eastern Conference/entire NHL.
The New York Islanders in 2011-12 could finish anywhere from first to fifteenth.
No dominating great teams on paper with a Stanley Cup Bruins team that looked just as beatable in 2010-11 playoffs, as the 2009-10 version that lost a 3-0 to the Flyers, or the same seven game Eastern Conference runner-up, Tampa Bay Lightning, who the Islanders dominated late last season.
The margin between winning and losing thirty plus games a year ago with over six hundred man games lost to injury was one goal or an open net goal.
That means anything can happen.
In 2009-10 this team lost a ton of one goal games against Philadelphia, who had only eighty eight points (nine more than Islanders) and went to the fianls. Last season Western Conference clubs with ninety five points failed to qualify.
Only NHL team I would put on a list that is a cut below the others is the one the Islanders will open the season against which is a dangerous match-up early. Dale Tallon's approach was not to put together a team of stars but fill out a roster with a lot of older players on the downside after a decade of losing top prospects.
For the 2011-12 New York Islanders, a lot of quality players, who could make a huge leap forward. What if Tavares turns into a ninety point player, same for Okposo, Bailey? Can Niederreiter stick and become a twenty goal scorer? What if Nielsen is ready to produce at both ends, can Comeau produce over six months as he does in stretches? Parenteau in his second year facing free agency could be much improved? Imagine if Grabner's has six months like his second half a year ago?
What if Martin becomes a scorer, Reasoner produces as he did in Florida, and Pandolfo or another fourth line right wing steps up and New York has a plus fourth line?
Streit coming back at his best, Hamonic and MacDonald only progressing, Eaton, Staios, Jurcina ready to bring the best versions of their game with Mottau or deHaan and others perhaps forcing a move?
Three goaltenders, two both more than capable of being top goaltenders, one who just hit thirty. Can Montoya continue what he did at the end of last year, if he is the best of the three, finally ready to live up to his draft potential?
The injury past speaks for itself.
There is inexperience at one end of the roster, age at the other. Fair questions if Tavares, Grabner, Moulson, Comeau slide back offensively. The age, rust, inconsistency of many veteran defenders is a big question to go with balancing three goaltenders, all injury prone, who have not had any sustained success (for many reasons) in countless years or in Montoya's case ever.
To say nothing of a head coach, who is no longer interim, it's his team.
There are also now legitimate questions in the fighting department.
This is why NYIFC prediction has to go from between one and fifteen, even with usual injury factor.
Anything could happen in 2011-12. Some things will be successful, others not.