New York Islanders


by Dominik Jansky

1. Speed

The New York Islanders under Jack Capuano have performed best when their team speed was a threat. Not just skating speed -- which takes a hit with the departures of Michael Grabner and Lubomir Visnovsky -- but also speed moving the puck up ice, creating up-tempo pressure on the opposition.

2. Depth up the middle

The Islanders boast more centers than they know what to do with. The two stalwarts are franchise star John Tavares and classically "underrated" two-way center Frans Nielsen. Beyond them is Mikhail Grabovski, who spent most of 2014-15 on the wing but is probably more valuable as a center; Brock Nelson, who spent most of last season at center but could be just as useful on the wing; and Ryan Strome, destined to form the complementary 1-2 punch with Tavares, but who spent last season between center and wing.

Capuano won’t move Casey Cizikas from an entrenched role as fourth-line center, leaving many options to move the others around the top three lines.

3. Ideal mix of prime veterans and youth

It seems crazy to say it in their first season in Brooklyn, and with just two modest playoff rounds in the last three seasons, but their time is now. Kyle Okposo is 27 (and an unrestricted free agent). John Tavares, Anders Lee, Travis Hamonic and Josh Bailey are each 25. Nielsen won’t have much longer at age 31. Strome, Nelson, Nick Leddy and Calvin de Haan aren’t far behind. Combined with Grabovski and Johnny Boychuk (both 31), this team has the right mix, right now to say it’s championship window has arrived.


by Dominik Jansky

1. Unfamiliar environment

It’s great that the building issue is settled, and the Islanders now have a home -- and another black third jersey -- in Brooklyn. Revenue and media attention should increase. But all of the players are used to living and commuting on Long Island to Nassau Coliseum, a building only its own players could love. New gameday routines -- from the train to where they take their afternoon naps -- plus a funky arena and slightly different fanbase will make this a season of adjustment. But there isn’t much room in the Metro for mistakes and excuses.

2. Special teams

The Islanders have been a dominant team at even-strength, controlling possession and the Corsis, putting other teams on the back foot. That changes when one team has a man advantage. The power play failed them critically in last spring’s seven-game playoff loss to the Washington Capitals. The penalty kill was a disaster much of the season, costing them enough points to deprive them of home ice in that first-round battle.

3. Blueline

The Islanders defensemen are good, but there are a few pieces that can easily become weaknesses: de Haan has an injury history, Hamonic is coming off a knee injury that made him miss the whole playoffs, Marek Zidlicky is an aging and equally injury-prone replacement for Visnovsky, and the overmatched Brian Strait is the coach’s favorite to fill in when anything goes amiss. Prospects Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield offer more promise than Strait, but will they get their chance? And if they get it, will they deliver?


1. Will the special teams improve?
2. Will the Islanders adjust to Brooklyn quickly?
3. What happens to Kyle Okposo?

Get the answers at Lighthouse Hockey.


by Dominik Jansky

The New York Islanders hit Brooklyn with a bang, selling out the building night after night, turning Barclays Center quirks and obstructed views into "charms," intensifying the intra-city rivalry with the Rangers and -- oh yeah, the ultimate goal -- win the Stanley Cup as Tavares becomes the king of New York and Brooklyn’s newest sports hero.


by Dominik Jansky

Untimely injuries combine with the intensified competition in the Metropolitan Division and the Okposo contract distraction to keep the Islanders out of the playoffs, making the quirks of Barclays Center an outsized focus, and deflating the buzz and hype the Islanders brought to their new home.