Our first post on the Islanders form new writer Chris Confalone:
Today we’re going to take a look at the New York Islanders and how it might affect you from a fantasy perspective. Why the Islanders? Two reasons:
First, I’m a huge fan and live and die (mostly die) with the team. But more importantly, they play in a small market and are over shadowed by the Rangers, who dominate what few hockey headlines there are in New York. So chances are, there may be a player or two that’s slipped under your radar.
The Isles so far this year have exceeded expectations, but still sit low in the standings. They currently have 33 points, which is actually one of the worst in the league, yet are only 4 points off of the playoff line. So anything can happen, if the players can get it together. That being said, the Isles are at best a youthful team in rebuilding mode and as an owner; unless you are in a very deep pool, there really are only a few players you want to know about, one from each position.
John Tavares (C)
If you’ve only heard about one player from the NYI, this is the one. The rookie has been everything the team was hoping for and then some when they drafted him with the first overall pick. He stands with 15 goals and 27 points so far and looks every bit like he could pot 30+ by seasons end. Tavares stays out of the box and he’s not playing on the PK, so don’t expect any shorties from the youngster, but more than half of his points came on the power play so look for production there.
Chances are he’s already been taken at this point, but keep your eyes open. He’d make a great pick up in a keeper league. Keep in mind though, that he is still a rookie, and the team is mediocre, so don’t be surprised with some streakiness. He should only get better though.
Matt Moulson (LW)
Moulson is one of the Ugly Duckling stories of this year. The former 9th round pick had only 6 career goals before signing with the Islanders in the off season and now finds himself with 15 and 26 points playing alongside the gifted Tavares on the top line. The question is whether or not he’s for real. But as long as he remains paired with Tavares, expect him not to bottom out. He too is prone to some streakiness. For instance, only 1 goal in his last eight games since he had a hat trick at the start of December. Still, he gets power play time, and is available in approx 40% of Yahoo! leagues. There are definitely better wingers out there from the left side; but he remains an interesting option. Take a look at him if your current players aren’t up to snuff or someone goes down with an injury.
Kyle Okposo (RW)
Okposo is a beast on the ice, but it hasn’t translated to success on the score sheet. The 2nd year forward only has 22 points thus far, primarily in the form of his 17 assists. The kid works hard, he plays hard and he shoots hard, but is well off his previous years pace of 18 goals. However, he currently has 111 shots, which is easily the team lead. Sooner or later, the breaks will start to go his way and he’ll start to convert some of those shots into goals. Okposo is only owned in 33% of Yahoo! leagues. He’s a good future investment for those keeper leagues out there, otherwise he might only be worth it in a deeper league. At least until he breaks out of his goal scoring woes.
Mark Streit (D)
Streit isn’t close to replicating last seasons 56 point performance, but he does currently have a very respectable 4 goals and 18 points. What he has provided are 30 PIMs and is only a -1, which isn’t terrible, considering most of the team (including Tavares and Okposo at -4 and -5) is sitting below the even mark. More then anything, Streit’s numbers have been hurt by a simply anemic power play. The team is 0-17 in the PP over their last 4 games. If they ever find a way to get clicking again on the man advantage that pace might improve, but don’t bank on it. Expect the Swiss star to end the season with 55-70 PIMs and 40-45 points.
Dwayne Roloson (G)
Roloson has emerged as the de facto number one on Long Island. At least until the return of Rick DiPietro. He’s won 11 of the teams 13 games so far. For now, he’s still splitting time with Biron, but he has been getting the lions share of the minutes as of late. At best he’s a slightly above average goaltender playing on a below average team. What this translates into is a mediocre 2.91 GAA and serviceable Save % of .911. Still available in nearly half of the Yahoo! Leagues, look to Roloson as an injury replacement and someone who will make a lot of saves in the limited him he has. And it should be noted, that when and if DiPietro returns, all bets are off.
Other players of note:
Here is a quick list of players that you probably don’t want on your team right now, but might be worth a look in the near future.
Rick DiPietro (G)
The oft-injured goalie with the mega contract recently completed a short conditioning stint in the AHL after his long rehab. Despite some tightness in his leg during his last game, DP is set to begin practicing with the team sometime next week. Isles GM Garth Snow claims they will be “slow” and “cautious” with his return so it’s anybody’s guess when he will see in game action. Assuming there are no further setbacks, a first game back in early January is not out of the question. If he can return to form, DP could still be considered one of the better net-minders in the league. However that question is what will keep him as a wild-card for now. If you are seriously hurting for goaltending (or just like to gamble) chances are DP is available in most leagues.
Martin Biron (G)
Biron has gotten the short end of the stick in terms of goal support, but he hasn’t helped his own cause either. Given the fact that he’s been outplayed, and that his contract is up at the end of the year; most likely Biron will be the odd man out of this “three headed monster” when DiPietro returns. Look for the Islanders to shop him to a team in need of goaltending help. A return to Philly? The Oilers are still without Khabibulin who is nursing a bad back. A few possibilities come to mind, however don’t expect anything until closer to the trade deadline. A fresh start and a new chance to be a Number one might be what Biron needs.
Josh Bailey (C)
Bailey hasn’t shown the improvement many expected after his 25 point rookie campaign. He recently ended a skid where he didn’t register a shot on goal for over 23 periods. However, coach Scott Gordon has been trying to instill a “shoot first” mentality into his young center-man and also moved him to the wing in an attempt to shake things up. There hasn’t been instant success, but he has picked up 7 shots in his last 3 games. Perhaps some fantasy value (and left wing eligibility?) are on the horizon.
Well there you have it. Hopefully you’ve found your sleeper or diamond in the rough somewhere among this list.