Summer Skate: Islanders
Strome poised for a breakout campaign, but can Isles return to postseason?
Although the weather outside doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the league-wide tour, spotlighting one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
Injuries and horrible goaltending dragged the New York Islanders to the fifth-worst record in the NHL in 2013-14. While they started poorly, chances of a second-half comeback were dashed when elite center John Tavares was lost for the season due to a knee injury suffered in the Olympics. As for that goaltending, they ranked 27th in even-strength save percentage, with a .911 mark that bested only the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers.
The Islanders have playoff aspirations this season, especially after signing solid goalie Jaroslav Halak and forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. A postseason return will be crucial as they look to invigorate a new fan base in Brooklyn, New York, and because they owe the Buffalo Sabres their first-round pick next summer. If the Isles fail to reach the playoffs, they will be giving Buffalo another pingpong ball in the Connor McDavid lottery.
Trending up: Ryan Strome, F