Realistic Expectations Prospects vs Veterans

New York Islander Fan Central | 3/10/2009 10:10:00 AM |
What I have been seeing lately is exactly what I have been writing about this season.

No knock on a Nate Thompson, Richard Park, Andy Hilbert or even a Tim Jackman, all of them as I have written several times do something positive. (and in many cases a lot more than one thing to contribute to winning a hockey game)

Having written this you cannot teach hands, skill and offensive ability with even a little size mixed in and on a team that does not score that's a problem. I'm well aware Mike Iggulden, Kurtis McLean have played for other organizations with limited production.

Jesse Joensuu is a prospect, he showed about what you would expect from a second rounder and maybe a little more.

Can these players do it on a sustained basis in the NHL? Maybe, maybe not.

Point is it's time to find out because more prospects are getting closer and the skating and offense looks better than before. I'm well aware Andy Hilbert found Okposo for his goal Sunday, but what if a prospect who can skate and check like Hilbert with twenty goal potential was with Okposo?

What I do know is you cannot play a lot of depth players who have been in the NHL
for a good five years or more on and off and expect five-ten goal scorers to all start giving you twenty goals. It simply does not work like that.

You combine that with playing prospects and a lot of veterans with the injuries and you can see why it was not working.

Call me skeptical but I bet this team falls off when Park and Thompson return from what we have seen lately. They will both work with all they have but they lack the passing skills and offensive ability to create the kind of goals or offensive chances
we saw against the Devils and if they do produce it will not be the same, it will be more throw it at the net and bang in the rebound type of goals or a broken play.

Even with the injuries and trades of veterans the Islanders still had four other teams with a younger average age dressing against Phoenix on Sunday, does it mean dump all the veterans? No.

Does it mean make a choice between Park or Hilbert, between Thompson and Jackman or between Sutton, Witt, Meyer & Pock?

Moving forward yes it absolutely does and it's goes beyond names.

Fair or not some of these defenders carry a long history of being injured, when your top six play zero games healthy it's time for changes.

Overall you cannot have a team this small or this slow, the balance needs to be improved through the roster and you see it all the time with the larger teams that come in and take the body or have some players that can skate with finishing skills.

I know there is pressure on young players to work hard/win games now and future roster spots to win. If they do make next year's team the pressure only goes up when they are in a real playoff race where every point counts.

It will be different if a Jesse Joensuu wins a roster spot next year than it is now, the expectations will be much higher in games with a lot more on the line.

Scott Gordon recently said Sean Bergenheim should not be thinking about his numbers before he started scoring but he knows his age and expectations of his production do matter more at this point in his career than it may be for a Josh Bailey or even a Kyle Okposo.

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