The New York Islanders walked into this year's offseason knowing that they had to make a few changes. With a relatively successful campaign last year--successful as in allowing guys like the very young and highly touted John Tavares develop--this year the Islanders were looking to do more.
Dominik from Lighthouse Hockey helps us understand what the view is like from the Islanders side of the fence:
For the Islanders, veteran agitator Jon Sim returns but it's on a two-way deal, which means he'll have to fight for left wing slots with big-bodied AHL prospects Jesse Joensuu and Matt Martin. Also in that equation is 2010 5th-overall pick Nino Niederreiter, who will be given every chance to stick with the team.
On the blueline, the Isles have eight guys on one-way contracts, with only Andrew MacDonald still waiver-exempt. So if heralded prospects Calvin de Haan or Travis Hamonic make the jump directly from juniors to the NHL, it will be at the expense of a veteran.
In goal, Dwayne Roloson returns as feisty as ever for his age 41 season, and Rick DiPietro is reported to be healthy -- but we all know the proof will be on the ice. Still, even if (when?) one or both suffers an injury, the Isels are prepared: They have strong prospects ready to jump up from the AHL in Nathan Lawson and Mikko Koskinen.
Zenon Konopka: Konopka is a huge energetic forward who has no problem laying the lumber and protecting his teammates. Konopka seems to be a guy who might fill the enforcer (or bruiser) role for the Islanders this year. At worst he is a good depth player to have on the roster.
P. A. Parenteau: Parenteau--a former Ranger--has a legitimate shot to make the Islanders this year. Although he was rarely used during his time with the Rangers, he did show some upside when he did play. Parenteau is useful in the shootout and hustles, but a lack of NHL consistency never allowed him to hit the fold.
Mark Eaton: Eaton is a well sized defensive defenseman, who should help the Islanders back end solidify a little. While Eaton's offensive numbers are unimpressive, that's not a part of his game. Eaton is expected to help keep the defensive corps solid, and the flies away from Dwayne Rolston's crease.
Milan Jurina: The former Washington Capital is a huge defenseman, a presence that the Islanders sorely needed. His inconsistent play, however, is one of the issues that will be working on with the Islanders this season. When he is on his game he's a force in the corners and in front of the net, and that's exactly what the Islanders want to see from him this season.
Jeff Tambellini: The serviceable, and sometimes frustrating, winger never found his place with the Islanders, and as a result was allowed to walk this off-season. The Islanders would like to think that they have the parts to replace him with all the young talent in their system.
Freddy Meyer: Meyer was a serviceable defenseman, but he has been adequately replaced, and truly won't be missed.
Martin Biron: As you can see above Rick DiPietro is supposedly healthy again, so the Islanders saw no need to have Biron on the roster. Their loss was the Rangers gain, however, and it seems a bit risky to trust DiPietro's health.
Sean Bergenheim: Bergenheim is in the same boat as Tambellini, a serviceable guy who the Islanders know they can replace with parts in the system.
Final Prediction: Although the Islanders have a slew of young talent, and are poised to become a better team in the future, this year figures to be another re-building year to the franchise. But with another year of seasoning some of the young talent on this team will really start to come into its own.