Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
The New York Islanders' 2017-18 season is speeding down an icy highway in a blizzard with no brakes, as a 15-24-8 record since Dec. 1 has all but assured another season out of the playoffs, sitting home watching other, better teams contend for the Stanley Cup.
- Surely, big decisions are looming on the horizon for a franchise that can never seem to sustain any sort of consistency or dependability. After beating Florida in the 2016 playoffs, its first series win in two decades, and coming off back-to-back 100-point seasons, this season can only be classified as a severe regression.
- Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin need to make their mark this summer, and not just by securing and furthering the development of Belmont Park as the franchise's future home. They need to decide whether general manager Garth Snow is the man to lead the conclusion of the John Tavares negotiations and entry draft. Snow's 12-year run has not given him many accomplishments to argue for continued employment.
- And what about head coach Doug Weight and his rookie staff? Weight has become increasingly frustrated and seemingly at a loss for solutions to shake his team out of a fourmonth long sleepwalk and one of the worst team defensive performances in recent memory.
- What is incredible about this season: New York is actually playing to a PDO (advanced statistic to indicate 'puck luck,' a combination of shooting percentage and save percentage) of 100.2, slightly above the mean of 100. Given they have allowed 255 goals, have a team save percentage of .903 (average .913) and a penalty kill of 74.5 percent (league average 80.1 percent), it becomes a little clearer.
- Sebastian Aho finally draws back into the lineup at Carolina for a banged up Brandon Davidson. It's unclear what Aho did to be pulled out in a lost season in the first place, just one of a multitude of miscues by Weight down the stretch.
- I don't expect to see Joshua Ho-Sang back this season and I wonder where he'll be next season as well. The 21-year old would be wise to do some soul searching this summer in hopes of developing and growing as a professional. Skill alone just doesn't cut it. That said, I wonder why the organization shows so much accountability when it comes to Ho-Sang and totally ignore it in other facets of daily decision making.
- Nick Leddy has had a solid offensive season (10-30-40), but has he had a worse defensive one as a pro? I think not. A team-worst minus-34, almost doubling his closest rival (Anders Lee, minus-18). No other Islanders defenseman is even in negative double digits.
- Mathew Barzal is well on his way to winning the Calder trophy as the NHL's top rookie, and man, does he deserve it. The 20-year-old has had truly incredible season. After a slow opening month, he has been remarkably consistent in producing points with 17 points in November, 12 in December, 15 in January, 16 in February and five in seven games so far in March.
- Tavares' game has gone south as the season has. Since starting with 49 points in 39 games, the captain has produced 21 points over his next 32, and his game has looked ... shall we say, out of sorts? Ah, to be a fly on the wall in Pat Brisson's office right now.
- Bob McKenzie floated the idea of a Tavares sign-and-trade the other day, and I just don't see it. With the negotiating window now a thing in the NHL, as teams can talk to players in the week leading up to free agency, would someone give assets, any assets, for someone they could just sign? Sure, letting New York tack on the extra year would lower the AAV, but I question the willingness of most general managers to agree with that strategy. It's more likely a situation in which New York either has eight years of Tavares or nothing.
- I initially had an 80-20 feeling that Tavares would stay. That slowly started lowering as the season wore on and there was no commitment. I shouldn't need to remind anyone that I strongly disagree with the ownership stance of letting Tavares dictate this entire situation by the way. As of now, I'm currently at 50-50. His love for Long Island or commitment to the franchise aren't questions. But looking at the team and the organization, what exactly is Ledecky's major selling point? A building that's three years away, at best? That's it?