Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
As the new year is right around the corner and calendars turn from 2017 to 2018, I want to, first and foremost, take this opportunity to thank you, the reader! Thank you for reading, interacting and following me and the entire crew here at SNY this past year. We truly appreciate the support and we look forward to continuing our coverage as the Islanders battle in the hotly contested Metropolitan division.
With that said, I received many questions via Facebook yesterday and will take the opportunity over the next two scratchpads to answer them to the best of my knowledge. Without further ado, here we go…
Daniel Sievers: What will the coaching staff do to address our current defensive situation?
I'm not sure there is much to do at this point, except roll with what you have, and hope they start to figure out that winning games while allowing four goals a night is just not sustainable. We've seen the system work when played correctly. With Johnny Boychuk out week-to-week and Calvin de Haan out for the year, Sebastian Aho should not be pressured into being a 'savior'. On the flip side, he should see some time with Dennis Seidenberg and Ryan Pulock struggling.
David Fernandez: Since the third line is struggling, why not run 72-53-15 and a fourth line of 8-29-25?
Seems that all the combinations that Doug Weight has tried in the third line role have failed miserably. He's having a tough time due, in part, to the lackluster play of Brock Nelson, whom they expected much more out of this season. Also, it doesn't help that Anthony Beauvillier is going through the dreaded sophomore slump. I don't see Bernier here much longer, and you will likely see a new unit shortly after the new year.
Chris Egbert: When are we going to start seeing more detailed plans of the new Arena?
Make no mistake, Jon Ledecky and his team are committed to 'fast-tracking' the arena at Belmont ('Al Arbour arena'?), and you will see much more information coming out in January. The first thing to figure out is where this team plays in the 'interim' after renegotiating the Barclays Center lease. It seems like the NHL is open to the Nassau Coliseum as a temporary solution.
Joey Librizzi: Any info on 91 inching closer to a contract signing?
John Tavares is an extremely quiet, guarded, and reserved professional. He, and agent Pat Brisson, have done an outstanding job keeping quiet in terms of all the things going on behind the scenes. All we have is that dialog is there and it's been productive. Money and term will not be the issue here, as the Islanders have both. Add the Belmont arena into the equation, and my odds of the captain returning have risen to 85%.
Matthew Kintzel: Is this season considered a playoff must for the Islanders? What with the Belmont win - Doug Weight's first full year - The top 2 lines being as they are with players in last year of contract. JT for one big one - What are the expectations and do they warrant Snow making moves, or if there's any thinking he's on a leash of some sort by owners?
I think every season is considered a 'playoff-must'. If it's not, then what's the sense of even playing the games? But with everything positive (the arena, offense), negative (defense), and in-between (contracts, free agency) going on, yeah, I'd say the spotlight shines a little brighter on the Islanders and not making it would be a failure, to say the least.
As far as Snow is concerned, his hands are somewhat tied, given the extraordinary prices of the trade market, and the fact teams know what he needs desperately, which drives them up even more. I can't see giving away any assets for a backup goaltender, so the hope has to be the team locks it down defensively and Jaroslav Halak continues his recent strong play. As far as his leash is concerned, I'd say he still has some room there.
Brian Schiazza: Do we see Ho-Sang again this year (if no injures)?
Yes. Josh Ho-Sang earned his demotions, but will similarly, earn his recall.
Still, more to get through, and I'll post the remaining questions in next week's edition of the scratchpad.