We have a matter to clean up here. There is some kind of debate as to what is more important in the NHL- goals or assists. That some people even make this a conversation shows the desperation they have for you to like a player that they like who doesn’t contribute a lot to their hockey team.
To this question, there really is no debate, if you use your head. To see which is more important, Just look at the scoreboard. There’s no assist board when the Islanders play the Rangers. The only thing that determines an outcomes are goals. And when you have more than the other team, you win.
The assist is a relatively limited stat in its application. For example, there is no way to get an assist in the NFL. If an entire sport can exist without an assist? I’m sure they’re not alone. When football was invented they determined that at a touchdown pass is not an assist for a touchdown reception. Why? I don’t know. But it makes sense. If you disagree, you can dig up the father of football – Walter Camp. Be sure to blow him so his zombified body doesn’t immediately eat your brains, Then ask him why there are no assists, and watch him eat you for wasting the time of the undead just to ask them a stupid question.
The three sports where assists are most common are baseball, basketball and hockey. Baseball assists are unique in that they’re about defense, and probably have a bigger impact on a game day in and day out than any other type of assist. They even have two versions of an unassisted play- a strikeout, and a play handled by one fielder by himself. It’s important to note that pitchers do not get assists on groundouts or flyouts.
Regarding assists, in some cases, baseball assists are the most impressive, but basketball is where you see the offensive assists impact a game directly, and it varies greatly from how you get assists in hockey.
In basketball, you get an assist when you directly assist in setting up a player to score. To get an assist you have a period of roughly 2 seconds after you pass the ball for a teammate to score to get an assist. When the rules of the game were originally created, players receiving a pass weren’t even allowed a dribble before scoring before a player could be credited with an assist.
But the assist in hockey? You can pass the puck to someone else, watch that guy skate 100 feet away, watch them pass the puck to someone else, then watch that guy shoot it in and BOOM you’re in the box score! For a whole lot of watching and non-involvement! Passengers, Capuano style.
Now, I get the people defending the mythos of the “hockey playmaker,” the guy that compiles assists on the back of others work. That type of player exists in abundance, and we’re going to discuss the player I call the “Coat Tails” player later on.
Don’t get me wrong, there are genuine playmakers in the NHL. Anze Kopitar comes to mind. Jumbo Joe Thornton. Cindy Crosby. A playmaker is probably in the top 50 in assists in the NHL for current players, especially if they have a decade plus in the league. If not, you have to question if they’re a playmaker.
“Why limit a list to 50 players?” you may ask? Fair question, 50 players would be more than 2 full teams, making up almost 10 percent of the NHL.
A playmaker is not just about assists. What makes a playmaker REALLY effective is if they can also score goals. If it’s a 2 on 1 and you know that the playmaker is always going to pass, you can break up the play way more easily than if the player with the puck is a goal scoring threat.
In short, I will accept that a playmaker makes assists argument, if and only if the playmaker can make a play for himself as well and light the lamp. If a player has never scored 20 goals, they are not a playmaker. Also, if you have scored 20 goals, it doesn’t mean you’re a playmaker.
Beyond that, lets talk about the way hockey awards an assist. It’s a misleading statistic. Why? Because a goal can be unassisted, but there is no assist without a goal. Meaning? The assist is the participation trophy of hockey. And any unnecessary statistic is unimportant, and as you will see, it is absolutely damaging.
Not convinced? Lets set up a little scenario on the value of statistics.
Team A plays Team B. Team B gets 6 assists. Team A gets two assists. Final Score? 4-3, Team A wins.
“HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?,” assist fans say.
Easy. Every goal scored by Team B had 2 assists. One guy made a pass and then went into the locker room to take a shit. Meanwhile someone skated between 5 defenders, drew a penalty, then passed to the extra attacker who was staring at an IPad before he was pushed onto the ice by the bench coach to score the goal.
Another play had a guy grind a puck from the corner, then pass to a guy that dicked around for ten seconds at the point, then shot it at the goalie. On the way, the shot hit a guy in the ass as he skated in front of the net and went into the goal.
Last scoring play for A? On a 3 on 2, there was a crisp passing play that took all of 2 seconds, resulting in a goal.
For team A? One guy got into a passing lane, stole a pass with a fine defensive play, got a breakaway and scored. The next goal? A successful penalty shot. Next, a player chipped a puck past a defenseman along the boards allowing his teammate to swoop in unopposed to score a goal. And the game winner? A 2 on 1 break on a coughed up puck at the point- think Lee and Eberle on the overtime ECF game winning goal in game 5.
I’m not saying that as a concept assists are invalid. But assists can invalidate individual efforts, which make them a misleading statistic, which is bad. But we shouldn’t always focus on bad. Here comes some good.
The FIVE Best Assists in all of Sports:
Outfielder throws out a guy at home plate. Pumps up the entire team, the fanbase, and Youtube content makers. Outfielder does roughly 90% of the work, maybe more now that the play at the plate is non-contact.
The Alley Oop. I think that’s French for “Jump your mother behind a building.” A player throws a ball in the very close vicinity of the basket, where some 6’9” guy puts his arms out and jumps a few inches to throw the ball directly into the basket. All skill goes to the guy making the pass.
The one timer. Named after your sex life, but not your girlfriend’s. This should be the standard for NHL assists.
1-2-3 double play. Pitcher throws, catches, throws again. Catcher throws. No one scores, the asshole that hit it back to the pitcher is out for sucking, and his teammates trash talk him for being useless.
Magic Johnson. Not specifically an assist. More like an assist machine. Highest career Assists Per Game in basketball regular season history, which is an assist per game lower than his highest APG in NBA playoff history. As the game got harder he got better. Known to say “whoo whoo!” as he broke down 40% of the defense singlehandedly and then toss a ball to a 6’10” guy a foot from the basket for an easy 2.
The problem is that the NHL hands out assists like candy, padding the stats of many mediocre players. This is a BAD IDEA. The sport lives in a salary cap world. And not like the NBA salary cap, which has gone up on average of $10 million a year each year over the last four years. You can have players with stats that look something like a half point a game of productivity while actually impacting the scoreboard and outcome of the game about 10% of the time looking to get paid on par with the people with similar surface stats who impact the scoreboard 150% more frequently.
So, how should the NHL reform the stat of assist to make it like the NBA- a direct impact on the scoring- without destroying their salary structure and without rewarding marginal talent?
Let’s start with changing what an assist is and isn’t.
An assist should clearly cause a goal. Like a chip pass to a guy sneaking behind defensemen. Or a one timer pass. Or a saucer pass over a defemsemans stick that someone takes to make a deke and score a goal. Or a passing play where one guy feeds a cutter who collects the pass and rips a wrist shot past the goalie. Like these:
It should not be when a guy makes a pass and goes off for a change to watch a goal get scored. You’re not even on the ice, so how did you affect the play?
It should not be when a guy that passed from the circle in front of his own goal to the guy in the other circle, who then skates singlehandedly across the length of the ice, dekes all defenders, and scores a goal. The fans had as much impact in that play as did the first pass.
As a whole, secondary assists should almost entirely not exist. No other sport does secondary assists. Why? Because they’re stupid. There is only one way a secondary assist should be allowed to happen. Player A hits player B with a pass who immediately hits player C who shoots and scores. Entire play takes 2 seconds. Then maybe you can make the case for everyone being involved contributors. But a guy who skates around, then hits another guy with a pass who skates around, then shoots it at goal to have it redirected? One assist.
A goalie makes a save on your shot on goal and someone tucks in a rebound? That’s not even a fucking pass. No assist at all.
Puck hits you in the ass and goes in? No assist. Puck hits the opposing team and goes in the net? No assist. Accidents aren’t assists.
What would you find from these changes? Let’s take a couple of players to study, shall we?
Wayne Gretzky had over 100 assists in a season 11 times. Is he a playmaker? Fuck yes. Why? Because Gretzky also has 894 goals. Not counting the 46 more from the WHA. Defend the pass, don’t defend the pass, he’ll still fuck you. One of the most dominant players in any sport ever. Think 99 would have been less great if you added more strict assist rules? Nope, because he scored 900 fucking goals.
Too high a standard? OK, lets take it down a notch. Ziggy Palffy.
12 year career. 684 career games- that’s a 57 game a year average. 329 goals, 384 assists. More than a point a game. If you made assists less frequent? Still a 500 point player in the NHL. I find Palffys last two seasons in the NHL interesting. Here’s why:
16-25-41 in 35 games, then a retirement, followed by a year off, and then his second and final NHL retirement year of 11-31-42 in 42 games. He couldn’t stay NHL healthy, yet he came back at a point a game pace. After Palffy’s second retirement from the NHL? he played 5 more pro seasons in Europe at a pace of almost two points a game, Into his 40’s.
Stat lines like 16-25-41 and 11-31-42 remind me of a certain player….hmmm….can any reader guess whose full season totals I’m thinking of?
An average of 12-20-32 over a full season for 8 years in a row. Anyone calling that elite? Now, add in tougher assist rules and you’re looking at a roughly 20 point a season player.
Welcome to 2008-2016 Josh Bailey, ladies and gentlemen.
Bailey is the player that is often called elite by #IslesKoolAid, who are often cultish in defending the players that they like. So lets start with Ziggy Paffy. Is HE a 20 point a season player with tougher assist rules? Hell no. Is Anze Kpoptiar? Or Patrick Laine? Hell no.
No, Bailey is a different type of player. He’s a coattail player. When others score, he gets points. And that is a problem in a salary cap sport- coattail points.
Because Baileys stats look productive, he is paid like he is productive. But research shows? A drastic overpay- almost 100% over valued.
This is TERRIBLE for the sport. It causes skilled players to ask for even more money because coattail players are getting rich. This ties up the salary cap for a team, locking them into a win now mentality as they can’t pay today’s coatails and today’s RFA’s. Salary caps are tied up with players getting contracts in career years, and from padded stats, damaging teams and fan bases. Frans Neilsen in Detroit, anyone? Bobby Ryan in Ottawa?
Wait, what’s that I’m hearing from coattail fans and #IslesKoolAid? What about Baileys coattail prime year hanging around 40 goal scoring Anders Lee and 36 goal scoring John Tavares? Sure, lets look at Bailey averages for career phase two:
15-41-56 over a full 4 seasons, including 15% of his career points coming in one outlying glorious coattail year. “HOW CAN YOU CALL THAT COATTAILS!?,” #IslesKoolAid screams. Here’s how:
Anders Lee scored 34 then 40 goals playing wing next to Some Piece of Shit. Since those years? A 20 something goal scorer, just like before those years. Also, Lee played the 2018-19 season with his same linemate Bailey, just without his center King Douchbag. What happened? Lee saw his goal scoring output drop 30%, back again into the 20somethings. Anders Lee gets paid $7 million a year to score 20something goals. That’s who he is.
And Bailey? Without Snake, his points total that first year dropped over 20%. So…how could both Bailey and Lee have production drops if one guy was such a great playmaker? And why did that “playmaker” drop in his point total another 10% in the season after that? Because the real playmaker is in Toronto. How do I know?
Because one guy was 272-349-631 in 669 games, and the other was 154-322-476 in 865 games. Judging by those two stat lines, which is the playmaker and which rides coattails? Now factor in tougher assist standards and which seems to have more value?
Also, how impactful was that outlier year for Bailey? Without it, Bailey’s FOUR SEASON average drops 10% to 14-37-51.
Look at the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Bailey was the Islanders leading scorer with 20 points, breaking down as 2-18-20. The team that won the cup was led by Braden Point who was 14-19-33. Imagine the difference in the Islanders season if Bailey had 9 more goals to go with all of those coattails? Shit, although Nikita Kucherov had 26 assists in the playoffs, he had 350% more goals than Bailey.
Defensemen even had larger impacts on goal scoring than an elite forward. Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen was 6-20-26 in the playoffs, dwarfing the offensive output of Bailey in goals and grabbing almost 50% more points on the power play. And very deserved playoff MVP Victor Hedman? 10-12-22, 13 power play points, 3 game winning goals including one in overtime. GAME WINNING GOALS. I don’t see any category for game winning assist, however. Because there shouldn’t be.
This isn’t a knock solely on Bailey. Many teams have a Bailey. Kyle Turris in Nashville. Vladislav Namestnikov in Colorado. Ryan Strome on the Ranjerkoffs are some examples of the guys who bring something to the table, but take way more off of it.
Hockey needs to reassess how it hands out its participation awards. It would be healthy for the sport and would keep parity among salaries for the elite, the good, the average, and the bad, which would benefit the fans by maximizing their entertainment value. It would both externally and internally manage a salary cap, and there would still be actual playmakers in the game, not guys who are called playmakers who do not rank in the top 50 in active players for assists after a decade in the game. Those guys are coattails. Feel free to use that when discussing hockey. It’s on me- call it an assist.
Based on its revenues, hockey needs to be a sport of penny pinchers. It need not pay players that watch others players play hockey like any fan can, just from better seats. Paying people for shit that they don’t do is never a good idea. Hockey needs to reinvent how they credit assists, because not doing such will lead them into a greater financial crisis than they already face, which is the most dire of professional sports. Consider this my assist to the league.
*This piece was written without help, so it was unassisted, which was my goal.
It’s impossible to be a New York Mets fan and not have heard the good news. The Wilpon family-who have been majority owners of the New York Mets since 2002 and part time owners for years before that- sold the team to billionaire investor and probably criminal Steve Cohen for a sum reported to be $2.4 billion dollars. Can you imagine buying a car and spending three years cleaning it, while the other fifteen years you spend your time shitting in that same car?
To think, back in 2002 the Wilpons said “For $400 million we can buy this team, do a horrible job managing it, have three decent seasons over 18 years, and we can sextuple our money when we sell it. During a global pandemic. While all the while we draw income from the team for ourselves, and also get ourselves a new arena paid for by the public AND get ourselves a TV channel so unpopular that no other regional area sports team wants to play on it, largely because they know we won’t pay them.”
We’ve all read about the winding down of the Wilpon Mets era. Well, the winding down of the majority of ownership. They’re still 5% owners of the team, meaning they still have an over $120 million share of the organization, and will partake in 5% of profits, assumedly. Nice pay out for failing.
But this isn’t meant to rehash stuff you’ve read about the sale or the team or anything else. Until Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Mets- and yes, the owners will approve the sale of the Mets because it makes all of their franchises more valuable because major sports teams only gain and never lose value – this is all conjecture. But I expect one thing to happen after the sale of the NY Mets: the sale of SNY.
SNY is the cable channel you can find the Mets on. And that’s about it. It’s one of the shittiest channels on TV, hands down. What brings me to that conclusion? Let me share with you what would happen if I watched SNY from the time I’m writing this through the next roughly 24 hours. Would you find the following programming captivating?
Amateur boxing from 9 to 11 pm
The same 30 minute long sports show from 11 pm until 2 am. One debut with 5 identical repeats.
Paid infomercial- 2:00 am to 2:30 am
Air fryer infomercial- 2:30 am to 3:00 am
Infomercial on medicine- 3:00 to 3:30 am
Different Infomercials 3:30 to 4:00 am, 4:30 to 5 am, 5 to 5:30am, 5:30 to 6 am
Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10) 6 am to 7 am
7 am to 9 am- the same 30 minute highlight show from the night before run four times in a row. Disgusting.
Four 30 minute infomercials 9 am through 11 am
Condensed Mets game (they lost by 10, but at this point it feels like 30) until noon
ANOTHER HOUR of the 30 minute sports highlight show. So far that’s 12 shows of that shit in 16 hours.
1 pm- 3pm Mets Yearbook, for the 1962, 1963, 2015 and 2018 seasons. Three of those years were washouts.
3 pm to 6 pm- A Mets game.
6 to 6:30- Game recap
6:30- 7:30 Documentary on the 2015 trade deadline. They’ve easily shown this shit 400 times
7:30 -8:00pm. Documentary on baseball in the Dominican Republic.
8:00 to 11pm- a replay of the entire game where Wilmer Flores hits a game winning homerun after he was traded and rescinded, but before he was released a few years later.
This is some shit. Who the fuck would buy this? 6 hours of informercials? 25% of the days programming are fucking infomercials. 6 hours of the same 30 minute sports show. Another 25% of the day repeating itself.
3 hours of historical shows. I’m fine with that, actually. 2 hours of replaying a beating they took at the hands of a better opponent. 3 hours of a new game, and 30 minutes of new discussion on the probable loss. 3 hours of a 5 year old game that was a turning point that the team almost didn’t have. And a 30 minute documentary that I’m sure has been repeated 200 times itself.
17% of the day has new material. 25% of the day are infomercials. How is it that Cohen would have to pay for this? You’d think that the Wilpons would have to pay him for taking a pile of shit off of their hands.
And yes, of course the Wilpons are in debt on the TV channel. Allegedly those infomercials and the lack of original content bring in $150 million a year of revenues. I’d bet the largest part is from being packaged as part of a basic cable package, a thing the Mets were 20 years behind the 8 ball in doing. You’d think if you own the team and bring in $150m in revenue you’d be ok? Nah. AMNY reports that the Mets are $850 million in debt in SNY. Meaning gthat the Wilpons are bleeding money out of the TV channel.
Understand that the Mets are partial owners of SNY. So the Wilpons are dragging other people down with them. This matters. SNY is valued at a billion dollars, but has $850m in debt. Mathematically, SNY is worth $150m. Which is more than what Cohen should be paying for a money loser that’s going to perpetually bleed as less and less people watch sports via a cable package and turn to the internet instead.
The Mets are unique at how late into the game they arrived for getting their own channel, and how late into the game they are at content, and how amazingly unprofitable they are at TV, but most of all, they’re just fucking stupid at running a business. Why?
Compare the 26 hour SNY TV schedule with any other viewing option you have. Are you tuning into the same 30 minute talk show 5 or 10 times a day? To the point, lets look at how other local teams handle this same scenario.
The Yankees share their channel in the offseason with the Brooklyn Nets. There are multiple MSG channels for the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils. NO LOCAL CHANNEL HAS JUST ONE PRO TEAM. You would think the Mets would say “Jets Islanders Mets fans should have a home…let’s go get the hockey team with our colors for the winter and have a connection with the team we used to share a stadium with, so we’re not running so many shitty infomercials!” But that would mean the Mets would have to top the $25-30 million that the Islanders get for showing up on MSG Plus 5. And when you lose money at every turn because you suck? Well, you’re probably just going to lose more because you suck.
Cohen doesn’t seem to mind spending money. Allegedly he spent as much on a single piece of art as the Wilpons did on the entire Mike Piazza contract. Let that sink in as to what this would mean for the Mets. So while I make it a habit of telling others how to behave professionally in order to look, you know, professional? And I get how Mets fans are so Stokholmed Syndromed to accept losing that everything I write has the impact of a genocide? Yeah, it’s time to expect more. Actually, that time was back in 1988. Like SNY becoming a channel, you’re late to the game for Mets fans who enjoy losing, but it doesn’t mean that you’re losers.
In the end, Cohen will be in negotiations for SNY. That’s great, I guess. I know my cable bill will go up for it. But Cohen needs a separate negotiation first. He needs another pro team, and I have just the one for him: The New York Islanders.
The Islanders have a nice deal from MSG because the Islanders Rangers rivalry was so hot in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that at that point the 25 year old channel of MSG (told you the Mets were late to the game) gave the Islanders a very rich TV deal. The Rangers owners expected the Islanders to continue being competitive, and that never happened, so the Islanders were using that TV money to prop up a team that was so underpaid that the NHL instituted a salary floor to try to guarantee a product for the fans despite the owners being terrible. Looking at you, Charles Wang. Tim Thomas was an awesome Islander…cap hit.
You do know that at one point under Wang the Islanders had a national TV deal for $13 million and a local TV deal of $25 million on a team payroll that was $43 million and claimed a $20 million loss. If you’re bad at math I’ll help. $38 million of TV money, $43 million of payroll. This NOT considering advertising, the Canadian TV deal, parking lot revenue, T shirt sales, hot dog sales, beer sales, and OH YEAH ticket sales. But if all those streams never existed? $38m is NOT $20m less than $43m. Oh, and then with the NHL adding $5m to the Islanders budget for being a small market team? $43m is the same as $43m. And the Islanders had phantom cap hits not being paid. If you’re concerned with a Cohen organization being fined for insider trading, understand that the Islanders were 20 years ahead of the curve. And the owners got approved, even with one headed to jail.
Oh, does that Wang era and those statutes of limitations! How far we’ve come. There’s even rumors that if the Cohen- SNY negotiations somehow fall apart, the New York Islanders are looking to buy the channel. How far they’ve come.
But with Cohen? He can say to the Islanders- “We make $150 million a year. You can be $50 million of that revenue. It’s nearly double the MSG deal. You stop being on MSG 5 or C-SPAN. You get a home so that no channel surfer has to guess what channel the game is on every night. We get winter ratings without having 5579987 reruns of the David Wright story- which I am certain has been shown more times than we have viewers. And we can sell advertising at higher rates while having live sports, so it won’t actually cost us $50 million. Plus, we look like a legitimate sports channel.”
A second team a must. Lets face it, the Knicks and Rangers ARE MSG network. The Yankees have made the low rent Nets their 5 boroughs partner. The Jets and Giants are major channel properties and unbiddable as a headliner. So what’s left? The orphaned franchise with the same color scheme playing 10 miles away from the newest mess that needs cleaning up.
And the Islanders absolutely need their own TV identity and home. It’s a no brainer.
Cable TV is a changing climate. Thanks to the Netflix model, channels will continue to go ala carte. SNY with one sport can not be a subscription service. SNY needs the Islanders- and probably more than amateur boxing- because the 45 actual classic Mets games will not fill another winter.
And a channel maybe losing money? That may actually help Cohen. For instance, say Cohen’s capital gains and taxable income is $300 million a year. But the Mets lose $300 million in that same year. Well, Cohen is effectively paying no taxes. The Mets can be a cost sink and Cohen will actually make more money from it. Also, sports teams themselves do not lose value, so even if Cohen somehow lost every dollar he has, he’s still a multi-billionaire.
This idea only works if Cohen gets SNY for pennies on the dollar. I’d think assuming the Wilpon debt may be enough to get the deal done. That type of thing never happens you say? Hmm. Didn’t the Islanders buy their practice rink for15% of the cost of actually building it? Yes, yes they did. Sometimes when people are desperate, you take advantage of it. The Wilpons are clearly desperate. They quibbled over keeping a $120 million stake of the Mets, which tells me $120 million means a lot to them. And it may be more than enough cash Cohen may need to buy a TV channel.
As we wrap up part three to the Islanders 2019-2020 retrospective and prospective, I’m going to fire up the couchbound GM in me and talk about potential deals that can be made, because if you look at the landscape of the NHL, there are deals to be made if only someone had the courage to do something unthinkable by Islander Kool Aid standards- like make a trade. You know, like Lou did at the deadline to get us to our first ECF ever, and he didn’t even trade for Tyler Kennedy!
Then I’m going to tell you how far distanced from reality the fans known as Islander Kool Aid #IslesKoolAid are. Which is a different planet.
TL;DR- the Islanders have 7 slots to fill to have a roster next year, and $9 million dollars in cap space, with three of those slots being Barzal, Toews, and Pulock. That’s the reality of the situation that #IslesKoolAid never gets their head around.
If you look at the NHL landscape, there are certainly haves and have nots. The New Jersey Devils fit in many have not boxes. Two of their needs are defensemen, as they only have 4 of them signed for the upcoming season. They also need about $5 million to reach the CAP FLOOR. No matter what the Devils do, they are going to suck next year. Why not help them suck less, get them to the cap floor, address their glaring hole in defense, and help yourself out at the same time, albeit temporarily?
Kyle Palmieri is a top 3 payer on the Devils. After the 2020-21 season he will be an unrestricted free agent, and he is NOT sticking around in New Jersey.
Deal one: Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk to NJ for Kyle Palmieri. The trade gets the Devils merely to the floor. It strengthens their defense with a pairing with immediate chemistry. It ties the Devils to this upcoming suck year with these guys, then a year until you free up nearly $12 million in cap space for the Debbies. Both defensive players are still productive.
For the Islanders, it frees $5 million of cap space. Considering Barzal’s present salary of roughly $900,000? There’s the finding for almost all of Barzals raise. And it gives them a season to decide what to do with Palmieri before he hits unrestricted free agency.
Deal two: This isn’t even my creation, it’s already being kicked around as a rumor out there. The RFA rights to Devon Toews, one of the two prospects of Walhstrom or Bellows, Josh Bailey or Jordan Eberle, and a 3rd rounder for Patrick Laine and a 2nd.
How does this work for both teams?
Winnipeg gets rid of a 30+ goal scoring future contract headache who is already making almost $7 million dollars and will want a raise after this season. Winnipeg gets a quick and offensive defender on a team with only 4 defenders under contract for 2020. They also get an experienced playoff forward to mix in with a group of mostly young skill forwards where Bailey can post another 20 meaningless playoff points or Eberle can add in a mix of .6ppg playoff production without being a centerpiece.
Pricewise Winnipeg loses almost $7 million. They’ll take back the $5m of Bailey and end up around $4-5m for Toews, but they also get a future first round forward piece and a pick. The Isles get a few dollars in savings, but they also get a pick back because they may only have Laine for one season and need a reason to eat the risk of losing a talented player.
Eberle/Bailey to Colorado for the rights to Ryan Graves. Colorado has a need for skill forwards to advance in the playoffs. They also need some money to get to the cap floor. Graves is a restricted free agent that is coming into his own and will demand a contract, but unlike at forward, the Avs have way more bodies at defense than at offense. Trading from a strength to fill a weakness is smart.
For the Isles? Graves will cost about $2 million a year for 3 years- a 300% raise- before they have to make a hard decision on him. This will give them some breathing room in the decision making realm of what to do with Mayfield and Pulock over the next two years.
At this point I already know that we’re talking fantasy GM stuff, because there is NO GM in the NHL that will make a trade for the overpaid, underproductive Josh Bailey. ZERO FOR THIRTY ONE. Why?
Trade Four: revisiting Andrew Ladd and Sebastian Aho for Zach Parise, with Minnesota eating the difference in salary for Ladd for the remainder of the Parise deal. How does this work? The Islanders get rid of Ladd and his $5.5m cap hit. Minnesota will only actually pay Ladd $9m, based on how Ladd’s deal was structured. That’s how they can float the $10 million they won’t be paying Parise to be an Islander, while the Islanders have to pay Parise $27.5 million to ride out that deal. That’s a fantastic cash savings for Minnesota- it’s thje ability to afford a different impact player. Ladd is likely to LTIR anyway, so it’s win- win for Minnesota. And Aho gives Minny depth at defense, which needs a defenseman right now, and 2 more the next season.
There is no cash savings here for the Islanders, its actually trading 3 bad years for 5 unknowns, but also a guy that scores 20 goals every year, will be a power play asset, and can take a 3rd line shift and work with a newly acquired 3C with no wings rather than be grinding for top 6 minutes and beatings. That will prolong a career.
Next up? Offer Pietrangelo $10 million a year for 5 years. Give him a $5 million a year salary and $25m as a signing bonus. Because it’s hard to say no to a check for $25 million.
How does that work? The new owners are clearly flush with cash. These are no longer the days of Cheap Charlie. The owners also would want to make a splash in time for a brand new arena, especially after going 0 for 2 on the last two big UFA’s on the market in Panarin and Snake. You have to step up for moments like a new arena opening, unless you want to do that without any shiny new toys. The cap hit is $10 million either way. But $5m in actual salary makes a player tradable if his decline comes on like a Subban. Pietrangelo isn’t likely to retire before 36 so there’s a small concern about reclaiming salary against the cap if he retires. And he’s be the most potent offensive force on the blueline since Mark Streit, but also plays defense.
So let’s look at the video game lineup:
Laine Barzal Palmeiri – roughly $18m
Lee Nelson Beauvillier- roughly $15m
Parise Pageau Bellows/Whalstrom- roughly $11.5m
Johnston Cizikas Clutterbuk- roughly $8m
Komorov – $2.5m Dal Colle $700k
Total Cost- about $56m
Last year’s hit- $48m
2019-2020 Goals Scored: 160
2020-2021 Projected Goals (based on repeating 2019-2020 stats): 215
The forwards would actually cost a lot more than last years group. $8 million more. $6 million of that increase is the salary of Mathew Barzal. Palmieri somewhat amazingly makes less than what Bailey does. Laine makes about a million more than Eberle, although that’s going to change in 2021. Johnston makes less than Martin. Minnesota will be eating the salary difference between the exiting Ladd and what impact Parise would have on the salary cap. Whichever rookie F will make what Khunackl did. Brassard’s cap hit is gone. And that top 9 is lethal compared to what they had.
Pietrangelo Pulock – roughly $15m
Pelech Dobson – roughly $2.5m
Mayfield Graves- roughly $3.5m
Total Cost- $24.5M
Last years hit – about $23m.
2019-2020 Goals Scored: 28
2020-2021 Projected Goals (based on 2019-2020 stats): 43
This defense will cost about the same as least years defense, as the raise for Pulock would be made up of Pulock and Toews last years salaries, plus whatever small raise he gets to carry him to his UFA days. Pietrangelo will not make $11.5m which is what Leddy and Boychuk make. Dobson Mayfield Pelech and Hickey already have contracts. Graves would come in around half of Greene’s $5m cap hit, as he is also an RFA.
Sorokin – $2m.
Varlamov – $5m
Total Cost- $7m.
Last years cost- $8.3m.
This is already set in stone, which made it easy. This will change in the summer of 2021 if Sorokin is any good. The salary cap, however, will not.
Total cost for 2020-2021 Islanders? $88m. Which is why it cant be done, right? Not with a cap ceiling of $81.5m.
Now you have the wonderful option of how to compensate for being $7.5m over the cap. Do you trade Lee? Do you sign a different option than a sexy name like Pietrangelo? Do you give Pulock a one year deal at $3m? Bury deals in the AHL? Break up the rest of the best 4th line in hockey w less expensive options?
I started to feel bad that I spent time writing this, but not really, because there is a lesson to be learned in the exercise.
All the proposed trades offset salary for the Islanders, so new bodies aren’t the issue. The issue the Islanders face is the timing of the RFA deals that will add at least $8m to the payroll if you just keep Pulock and Barzal. If you want Toews? Y ou’re adding $12m to keep the same team and eat up more cap space than you actually have. On a team that was a win now team.
That, and then you weigh the overpays that were justified at the time with stupid phrases like “yes it’s 6 years but it’s below market 6 years from now” and realize that those long term deals have impacts on the present frozen salary cap. In 2019-2020 Ladd and Bailey ate $10.5m for under 20 goals. That’s similar to what Tavares made last year. Which situation would you prefer?
And we know that the Islanders lack of ability to score goals against high octane teams- they would probably have lost a tight contest to Dallas just as well as they did to Tampa- means that they do need to make wholesale changes at F.
Islander fans like to shit on proposed trades, and thus will try to shit on my entire hypothetical, one where I knew going in that Lou would not trade away half a dozen guys from his roster, mostly because he doesn’t have to be that bold anymore for league wide recognition.
Actually, let me be the first to shit on the fans hearts for this upcoming season. The Islanders caught every break possible, including a global pandemic, just to LOSE in an Eastern Conference Final. Not the championship, but a pre-championship. They’re going to return with the same team? No, they’re not.
Larry Brooks recently wrote about how losing breeds character in a locker room. Well, Carolina went to the ECF against the Bruins last year. Carolina lost the series last year, and Boston lost the Cup. NEITHER team made a return to the ECF. Columbus made it past their first round ever last year. Not this time. Toronto didn’t even make the playoffs, technically. Henrik Lundqvist’s final season will be bought out because he could not carry the Rangers on his bi-curious back one last time. Stanley Cup champs St Louis are at home watching this year and are going to lose a key player. But the Islanders are the team that’s going to buck that trend? If you believe that, I have a big bag of dicks right over here for you to eat.
Keeping this roster together the same way as it was last year? DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. It’s already changed at Goalie, and the limits of the salary cap and trade rumors says changes are far from over. So, think about what changes you want to see and where, because they are going to happen. You’re going to lose some favorite sons, or you’re not going back to an ECF. So decide what you like more- the players or the team, because only one of those matter.
Oh, we also have to take into account one more roster. The most unrealistic roster of all. The #IslesKoolAid roster.
What is the Kool Aid roster? Some fans seem to like individual players more than they like the team. The root for the opposite of Gestalt. Those fans do not want to see one single removal of any player on the roster. They want it to be just like last year, forever. This is the Garth Snow effect- when you lose so fucking much that you think it’s normal. IT’S NOT. It’s embarrassing. It’s the mentality of the bad fan. It leads to shit like adults waiting to wave at an airplane full of millionaires because fans are concerned that the rich folk will have hurt feelings.
The #islesKoolAid roster? Here we go. Barzal sees $8 million. I said $6m is a more than a fair price to pay the guy short term to eat the rest of his RFA and a little of his UFA, but we’re talking Kool Aiders here. Barzal needs to be paid like Crosby before he even plays in a final, nevertheless wins a cup.
Matt Martin? He can’t go to the Rangers! It’d hurt our feelings! Rangers are offering him $3m a year? Lets go the same as Cizikas and Clutterbuck and do $3.4m.
Brassard had some key plays in the playoffs. Yes, he’s in a career decline, but he can come back on the same bargain deal at $1.5m.
Can’t trade Ladd for Parise. Sure Parise had 25 goals in the shortened season, which is about what Ladd has scored for his entire Islanders career (39 goals in 4 seasons for $26.5 million dollars) , but Parise will be at the end of his career…just like Ladd. We can’t change what we know!
The one change? Khunackl can go. We have an offensive minded prospect to bury on the bottom 6 and the pressbox, just like first round pick Josh Ho Sang.
2020-2021 cap hit for Kool Aid forward roster: $62.5m
2019-202 cap hit for team: $48m for the same roster.
We can’t let Toews OR Pulock walk. Pulock has become a top 2 defender and needs to be paid AT LEAST $6 million dollars just like Boychuk. And Toews? $5.5 million just like Leddy. Pelech is a restricted free agent next year, but lets not look down the road at next summer. Hand out that money now!
2020-2021 cap hit for Kool Aid roster: $29.5m
2019-2020 cap hit for the same roster: $23m.
2020-2021 cap hit for Kool Aid goalies: $6m
How? Well, they like Greiss more than Varlamov because he was here longer. So the Islanders should resign Greiss- with a small raise of course- for $4m and work to trade the $20 million left remaining on Varlamov. That’s probably not impossible, but it creates a problem when Sorokin leaves after the 2020-2021 season because he was sold a false bill of goods regarding goaltender partnerships, and the Islanders need another goalie with nothing at all in the pipeline. Because Bridgeport develops players, yo.
2019- 220 cap hit for the roster: $8.3m.
The #IslesKoolAid cap hit? $98 million. For at best, more of the same. So who’s lineup looks crazy now? Fact is, by not changing anything, your fantasy roster is more expensive and less talented than the one I cobbled together, which added “all stars” and removed “all stains.”
In conclusion, #IslesKoolAid has pipe dreams of bringing a team back to hope it can do more of the same, which was lose. Me? I like that saying, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time.
My fantasy roster is improbably. But the wishes of #IslesKooAId? Batshit crazy.
Part one of the season retrospective looked at the season. Part two of this will look at the upcoming off season, because that’s where we are now, but this CAN NOT be where it ends. Islander fans are dying to know- what’s up next?
Let us not forget, this pas Islanders season was indeed a successful season, thanks to the COVID break. But this team has a whole lot of work ahead of it. Think of the team as a muscle car. Muscle cars are fast and fun, but every one that’s ever worked on one knows that there’s always an upgrade for every friggin part of the car. I need a Holly carburetor and get me some Cragars!
The Tampa series showed the struggles that the Islanders have versus against high end talent on a night in, night out basis. It also highlighted the lack of high end talent on the team. In the face of such, some players vanished, while others showed how one dimensional they are. Very few manned up and found the sack to compete at a higher level. Kudos, Brock Nelson.
We can talk about roster signings and upgrades for days, and as my buddy @AmazingInsights points out, the salary cap is another player that needs to be coached in the new NHL. The Islanders are saddled with panicky Lou contracts and terrible Snow contracts, with very few bargains in their grasp.
So with that, with would I do if I were the GM and were dealing with reality? Not the #IslesKoolAid reality, where every player is both untradeable for the value to the team but also untradeable because you would need to trade the entire first line for fucking Bryan Smolinski? Think of it as a video game GM. You know, one that makes trades.
First move- See ya, Matt Martin. I enjoy Matt Martin. He’s a good Islander and a fun player to watch. But he hasn’t played a full season since 2016-2017, is often hurt, and will only wear more as he plays that aggressive style which averages 4 hits a game and also less games all the time. Plus, the NY Rangers are willing to offer him $3 million per? Take him. Piss away 2 salary slots- one for Martin, and one for the guy that spells Martin for 40 games. Martin had 5 playoff goals, which matched his entire regular season. And that surprising output made him…even for the playoffs, the first time he wasn’t a playoff negative in 5 seasons.
Speaking of, the “Best 4th line in Hockey” is just about done. Martin is gone this year. Next year Cizikas hits the UFA road, and in 2021 we see the winding down of the Clutterbuck contract. People call the 4th line the Islanders “Identity” line, which is true. That identity is a lack of scoring ability and nobody on the power play causing deficits to opponents. It’s just stabilizing a situation. Outside of the one year in his career that Casey Cizikas scored 20 goals- a feat Josh Bailey has yet to achieve- the 4th line scoring a goal is like finding a $100 on the street: a pleasant surprise, maybe a game changer, but incredibly inconsistent and unpredictable.
The Islanders have what some would call a crisis of an RFA situation, but it reminds me of a saying from good ol’ “More World Series Rings than Fingers” Yogi Berra- if there’s a fork in the road, take it.
The Islanders have RFA situations with three players- Mathew Barzal, Devon Toews, and Ryan Pulock. The only must sign of the three is Barzal. He is the highest end talent of the team. And he needs his talent equivalent to show you ghow good he is, much like Braden Point and Steven Stamoks needed a Kucherov to show you how to put up 100 points a year.
Barzal is indeed an RFA and the Islanders- and the league- are in a cap crunch what with COVID and the frozen for three years’ salary cap. So first move? Barzal for the rest of his RFA, plus 2 years. Ideally one. That way he can be traded if he starts bitching, unlike the mistake they made with the snake. There is no need for one of those team crippling pay for stats deals that you see in Edmonton, Buffalo, Winnipeg and Toronto where you pay for hope for the future, rather than results.
As an aside, you don’t overpay for winning, either. Anytime a player asks for $10 million dollars when they win a title? The team stops winning titles. See Chicago, Los Angeles for examples. What about Pittsburgh, you say? If Cindy Crosby can make $8.7 per year to be the best player in hockey with 3 cups? So can your best player, and they should definitely make less. Barzal’s offer should be in the $5.5m to $6m a year range. Fair for a guy who did nothing in an Eastern Conference Final, in the first time he even got there.
Ryan Pulock? He is an important part of this team. But like every non-Hall of Famer, he too is replaceable. Also, he can get a deal that eats one more year of his restricted free agency. A one year deal? Think $3 million and if you have to, work on a trade to replace him. Why? I can answer that.
Why overpay for a guy that’s never been an all star, never won a cup, and was the equivalent of one trick pony Marc Andre Bergeron until Trotz showed up? Lets see if he can take the next step before you pay him for it. And if he won’t sign? Trade. Then sign proven commodity, two time all star, cup winning Alex Pietrangelo who has more career points per game than Josh Bailey- from the same draft class- as a defenseman. Alex made $6.5 million last year. He’s looking for $10 million. St. Louis didn’t pay him that. No one can afford to pay him that without moving a player or two off of their team thanks to the frozen cap.
If you’re telling me I get the choice of Toews and Pulock or Pietrangelo? I take Pete. Ideally? You have Pietrangelo AND Pulock, so that means Leddy’s got to go. With Boychuk. Each have 2 years left on their deals, but I’d prefer 4-7 years of Pietrangelo versus two years each of a plateaued Leddy and a Boychuk in decline.
So how do you move two, add one, keep one? By moving three. Devon Toews is shown the door. In these playoffs he has shown me two things- he has a nose for offense, but a bigger nose for avoiding contact. He’s soft. Like Bailey soft. Also, just like Bailey, fans confuse liking a player because they play for your team with productivity. While in the regular season when you’re playing less successful teams, half of whom don’t even make the playoffs, Toews looks good. But what Toews has shown that when the going gets tough? The soft get wincing. The man shied away from so much contact that I thought HE was the bubble.
Toews provides offense, so the challenge for Lou is to find a guy with better speed, similar offense, and a defensive propensity to play a body instead of ice pucks to avoid a stick check. Like Pietrangelo. Maybe make a one year offer to Greene. Or maybe we wait for video game GM mode to show you my master plan.
Plus, the Islanders can steal a page from Tampa Bay and grab a recently dejected defenseman on a super low risk contract with lots of experience who may have been overmatched as a 2 or a 4 but would fir in smoothly as a 6 or 7. On the market this year are Kevin Shattenkirk, Zack Bogosian, and very possibly Marc Staal and Brendan Smith of the New York Douchebags. The last two would make less than Noah Dobson and could be a way cheaper injury replacement than Thomas Hickey and the mystery of how he got a 4 year $10m deal out of Lou.
Are you saying that you would trade half the defense off of a conference finals team?
Yes, yes I am.
Boychuk? Hardly played. Greene made him look one dimensional. Toews? Guy has as many hits as Enuff Z’Nuff, and avoided more contact that a double bagged boner. Leddy? Is he getting any better?
Plus, Dobson needs a spot. He’s clearly ready for the NHL. Sits for 5 months then steps into a game 6 against the eventual Eastern Conference champs and looks like he belongs? Yeah we can move three guys for an internal replacement and an external replacement. And save money.
Some other players to consider selling high?
Jordan Eberle comes to mind. His 15 playoff points (5-9-14) put him tied with teammate Anthony Beauvillier (9-5-14) in points, plus he had the biggest goal of the postseason. But he makes a lot of money, is nearing the end of his prime, and his regular season wasn’t spectacular. He would prosper in an environment that didn’t ask him to play a complete two way game and could skate more openly, Western Conference style. Also, in my opinion 1.25 goals a playoff series is awfully terrible for a top six forward. If you can’t go more than one goal a series, you have issues. Speaking of….
Josh Bailey. 20 playoff points looks great until you see that only two were goals. One came in game one of the “real” playoffs versus Washington, which was the biggest goal of his 12 year unaccomplished career. The other was an empty netter against Washington when the series was already decided. However, the Islanders also played Florida in a best of 5 that went 4 games, a best of 7 that went 7 games versus Philadelphia, and a best of 7 that went 6 games versus Tampa where he scored ZERO GOALS PER SERIES. 17 games, nothing. And don’t forget about how he singlehanded lost the series to Tampa with his unprecedented worst shot in hockey history. Tampa Bay’s goalie Andrei Vasilevsky looked thoroughly confused as to how that shot wasn’t in the goal, and where the puck was exactly.
Some team may see 20 playoff points and go “ELITE! WE NEED THAT!” Awesome. Take the $5 million off the cap that will be replaced with at the least $900,000 of Oliver Whalstrom or Keifer Bellows. Which is how you would look to improve a top six. Remember, Bellows was on a 20 goal pace if had had 80 games.
But which of the 31 other teams GM’s would see a 20 point playoff and overlook the game 5 where he played 30 minutes of ice time without a shot on goal or hit? Will they overlook the over a month where he didn’t score a goal against a goalie? And will they say “This guy rides coattails like he’s a vice president?”
The thing Islanders fans say about Bailey is that he’s elite, but that also in a trade he would return a 6th round pick. They’re half right.
Islander fans have an issue of falling too in love with their players. That’s a bad idea. The Isles had a season where they’re seen as a winning team. On a winning team, your 6 is bad teams 4. Or in the case of the 2014-2015 Islanders, Chicago’s 6 was the Islanders 1. Mayfield now is Chicago’s Leddy then. Is it time to maybe make a Mayfield someone elses Leddy? What’s a fair trade assessment for the next 3 years of prime Scott Mayfield? A 1st round pick? A pair of seconds? Pick and a prospect? All of those options are ok, because it gives the Islanders something they need. A future. Why’s that?
Because for everything Lou has done that’s been great, there is one glaring hole. The prospect system. Which harkens back to a piece I had written called something like “How does Brett Thompson still have a Fucking Job?”
I ask this because I wonder, how is the development of Kieffer Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, Simon Holstrom, Otto Koivula, Sebastian Aho, and Jakub Skarek going in the AHL? I don’t have to wonder statistically, because from all the forwards and defensemen, they have combined for 3 goals in the NHL. That makes Michael Dal Colle career 7 NHL goals look prolific, not to mention Josh Ho Sang’s almost unmatchable 7-17-24 in 53 games, stats in line with the first two seasons of Josh Bailey.
Going back to 2012 (!) the top three highest NHL game playing offensive producing Islander draft picks?
3) Ho Sang
Want better than that? 2009 and 2010. 3 in a decade, folks. Two worth a shit.
Ideally al five prospects become NHL impact players, but what are the odds? Zero percent. So the upcoming training camp? Time to decide who gets a job, and who get a new organization to call home.
What’s next? The last part of this analysis will be the fantasy GM section of the piece, with the bonus section on how unrealistic #IslesKoolAid are regarding the 2020-2021 Islanders, and the awful reality of heading into Belmont with no shiny new toys.
Guest Writers are always welcome at World Wide Sports Radio, provided that they’re somewhat articulate, knowledgeable on a topic, and have a point of view.
This guest writer is more than qualified in that regard. Matty Matty was half of the original writing pair of the @JoshBarely twitter account, with myself- Danny Radical- as the other half. We usually got together, watched a game, made funny comments, and wished someone would have written them down and published them. And then we did just that, first on Twitter, then to the defunct Hockey Independent website, with a very brief stay for Sports Illustrated that ultimately ended up at Sports on The Go One, the predecessor to World Wide Sports. You wouldn’t be reading any of the obnoxious, occasionally brilliant things I spew out without this gentleman right here, looking up stats and riffing about how horrible a player is in real time, making me laugh and pile on.
After this playoff run, Matt asked if he could offer something new, as thinking back to a decade ago all we watched was bad hockey, and he felt he has something to say about the Islanders first conference attempt since before the Internet became a thing. Without further ado…
Josh Bailey was drafted in 2008. Nik Filatov was the player that most of the fans had wanted because he seemed like a sniper of a wing, and he was surprisingly still available when the Islanders chose with their fifth overall pick. Filatov ended up being a bust: he may be the only top ten forward from round one that Josh Bailey has more career points then; relative to games played.
When Bailey was selected, my first thought was great, we have a second line center for the next 10-15 years. Cross that off the list. Now, go get him a wing or two and let him play. Never happened.
Though many apologists herald Bailey as a top line player, they also say he was rushed into the league. Up until his career year playing alongside he who shall not be mentioned, Josh had one of his most successful seasons just like every other winger who did the same has had.
He showed signs of creativity and a nose for offense. Exactly what you want in a second tier, supporting role. Then 2018 happened and he forgot how to play. Bailey enjoyed mild success and few injuries until he was cemented on the top line with pajama boy. He had a very good year for Bailey standards, which up to that point was an average of 34 points a season. Based on one season he was signed to an extension.
After that outlying year, he was again cemented on the top line for five months and had a mediocre year, as did his linemates. He was “demoted” to second and third line duties and continued his same production. If you take the time and sadly I have, go look at points and ice time for Josh Bailey. If he plays 10 minutes a game for an entire season he will get 45-50 pts. If he plays 13-15 minutes and ample PP time, he will get 45-50 pts. If he plays with a future Hall of Famer he will get 70. PA Parenteau and Matt Moulson also got 70 points. Where are they now?
The Islanders are not lacking in nice guys. They are lacking in skills like speed and shooting. These are two things Josh Bailey can’t contribute. Now, if you want to tell me that Brock Nelson and Anders Lee should be moved and the Islanders should go in a direction where Bailey should cement the top 6, fine. If you want to tell me that Bailey will be the responsible veteran anchor for Wahlstrom or Bellows, fine. However, do not tell me he is elite. A player who has never scored 20 goals is not elite. He is an average player. He is what he is.
Maybe he can be more valuable in the right situation. Maybe that situation exists on 31 other, different teams. Ask yourself this, if you went on a job interview and all the committee could say about you is that you are a nice person, you know that means? You have nothing to contribute that’s stands out above everyone else. Also, you didn’t get the job, because you wouldn’t get the job done.
I don’t hate Josh Bailey. Much like with music and the word genius, people over use and overrate things to a point that is sickening. The same goes for all the haters. He by no means sucks and is not useless. In the proper role he has shown that can be quite useful.
That role is caddying for a star.
If you add up all Baileys good plays and then tally all his bad ones, they will probably be about the same. Why? Because the truth is, at best, he is an average player. The Islanders need help and it’s not going to come from giving Josh bailey more ice time, but it could come from moving on from him.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the summer of hope, it was the spring of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Thank you to Dickens, but I’m getting sued for that.
The Islanders 2019- 2020 season, like the heavily borrowed opening, is a Tale of Two Cities, and of three teams. We’ll address the city part last, and the identity part first.
The first team we witnessed in the early part of the season, October and November. The Islanders were gathering points like squirrels trying to stock up on nuts to bury for the winter. We all try to stock up on nuts to bury….alas.
Then came the next span, where the team played consistently boring hockey, watching their monthly records get worse and worse, until a 7 game winless streak was mercifully ended by a merciless event- the COVID outbreak. Wear a mask, dipshits.
Because all sports are about money and not the fans, the league decided that the summer would be a good time for the playoffs, which would be held in isolation in two cities without any fans in the area. That’s our third and maybe most enjoyable team. Don’t worry, you could still buy all of your 24 team playoff swag on line everywhere. #HerdMentality
After the COVID break, the Islanders looked reborn. They blew past both Florida and Washington before nearly giving away a playoff series to the Philadelphia Flyers. One consistent factor in the Islanders playoff success was their dominance during the 3rd period. In their first 16 playoff games, they won the 3rd period 15 times, which was a necessity because they usually lost the first period in those same games.
One issue that was problematic all season long for the Islanders were special teams, which reared its ugly head in the postseason big time. The power play needed a recharge for just about all of the regular and postseason. To call it brutal would be an insult to snuff porn. The power play came in at 16th out of 24 teams, but remember it was 24 teams because 8 others didn’t even belong there, so actually it was the worst power play in the playoffs. Their conversion percentage was just a little better than half as good as the top power plays in the playoffs. Also, the penalty kill? 13th out of 24 in the playoffs, so they were bottom half, but as #IslesKoolAid would say, that’s the top of the worst!
The penalty kill, which had been strong versus Florida and Philadelphia fell to earth and hard versus Tampa. Even with that, each game in that series with the exception of the first one was a game in which the Islanders could have won.
Take for instance game 2, a heartbreaking 2-1 loss with Tampa Bay scoring the tie breaking and game winning goal in the last 8 seconds of regulation. The lack of goal scorers delivering for the Islanders was apparent, but the lack of ability shone prominently when Josh Bailey received a pass right in front of the goal. There was no defender around him, and Tampa Bay’s goalie was out of position, leaving Bailey a yawning, wide open net to tap a shot into. Bailey instead shot the puck just about straight up in the air. It probably hit the banner of Gretzky’s retired number. It’s definably the worst shot I’ve ever seen a professional hockey player ever take. It was absolutely the turning point of the series and for the Islanders the entire postseason.
Some say the Brock Nelson breakway miss in game six did the Islanders in. No, being down 2-0 was too big a hole to overcome. Isles played Tampa even after that, so Bailey lost the series for the Islanders.
In looking back at the regular season and post season, there’s really only one place to look for positives. Why? If the regular season ended on the same pace as it was going, the Islanders would have missed the playoffs. Also, that John Tortorella didn’t win the coach of the year for what he did with what he had in Columbus? That’s a travesty.
So in short, the regular season was disappointing after November, the postseason was exciting right up until the last goal, and for the first time since before anyone even knew who Monica Lewinsky was, the Islanders could hold their heads up high. Unlike what Lewinsky is famous for.
Islander fans can be proud of the season. They made their first Eastern Conference Finals ever, as the last time they played in a season this long it was called the Wales Conference Finals, and haven’t had this many post season wins since 1984.
Isles GM Lou Lamoriello won the General Manager of the Year award for turning around a franchise and exceeding the combined accomplishments of the last 25 years of three GM’s in just two years. The team hasn’t progressed this deep into the playoffs since Reagan was President, pre Alzheimer’s. Back then, a blowjob cost $5. I know that because my buddy Joe lived in an apartment above a garage, which also had a smaller apartment above the garage where this hooker lived. And she used to blow him for $5. He was very underage. She’d blow the other neighborhood kids too. Being that I wasn’t in the neighborhood, I must have been suspect, like a narc. No one seemed to care about the pre teen Beej back then. But I digress.
One of the MAJOR differences between the success and failure of this team was that at the trade deadline, Lou went out and got one of the best available players on the trade market. THERE IS A LESSON TO LEARN THERE. Yes, Garth once traded for Ryan Smyth, but the organization was so fucking dysfunctional that Smyth looked around, decided that a $5 hooker for underage boys was more professional, and left the organization for the better schools of Denver, Colorado.
Among the reasons Lou won GM of the year, aside from the culture change he created and the complete removal of that fat disgusting pigfuck Garth Snow from the entire organization at the end of 2019 is worthy of recognition. But more importantly in the immediate term, the trades for JP Pageau and Andy Greene were important for the fresh air they bring to the locker room. In Greene’s case he brought the experience of playing for a Stanley Cup, and Pageau in playing as an underdog in the Eastern Conference Finals.
More importantly they brought the perspective on how everyone else sees you, which is informative to the coaches and players, much in the same way when Butch Goring came in from LA and told the about to be Dynasty Islanders that they didn’t realize how good they were.
Pageau came in without the Trotz indoctrination and was a bit of a wildcard with the offense. He may be a 20 goal scoring 3C, which would mean flanked by Dal Colle and Leo Komorov, the third line will score 20 goals. In the playoffs we saw his offensive and defensive instincts were more honed than some of his teammates, but the Tampa series created a question as to how effective he is against larger players. Guess we have six years and wishing against three draft picks to see if we can solve that mystery.
The Philly series should not even have gone to 7 games. Despite how awesome Varlamov played in games 5 and 6 against Tampa, he was very replaceable against Philly. His up and down play almost makes me wonder if he is tradable in the offseason, and if Greiss can be brought back as a back up and mentor to goalie of the future Ilya Sorokin to save a few million against the salary cap. I’m sure the Russian thing is what worked for Lou regarding Sorokin, unlike when Snow tried to lure Sorokin here with a circus atmosphere and no head coach but a nice practice rink and a train commute with a gear bag to Brooklyn.
Anthony Beauvilier is another mystery. Either he took a big step forward in his development as a forward, or just got streaky at the right time for a few weeks. Time will tell. One player that definitely manned up was Brock Nelson. He took a huge step forward as a player who the organization nearly lost a mere year ago and had 450% more playoff goals than John Tavares this year.
On a personal note, Barry Trotz was masterful in the playoffs regarding getting the most out of what you have. When starting defenseman Johnny Boychuk went down, the decision to play Andy Greene looked brilliant. The old man never looked out of place, and may have earned himself a one year deal with the Islanders as a mentor and 7th D. The insertion of Brassard who immediately scores, the swapping out of goalies when one seemed down, the 7 defenseman game…the guy knows what he’s doing, which is a breath of fresh air for Islander fans after years of guys farting in your face and asking if you enjoy the smell of their cooking.
But there was absolutely one thing Trotz did that bothered me to no end. I know why he did it and I can see it as part of his character, but lord knows I don’t have that much character and would have taken a different approach.
In the series versus the Capitals, Ross Johnston should have ripped off Tom Wilson’s head and shit down his gaping bleeding neckhole. It’s not like Johnston has a lot to offer, and Wilson definitely has earned it with his skill set of dirty hits and series ruining injuries. I get it- Trotz coached Wilson and also respects what Wilson did for him. But I saw that as Trotz protecting Wilson. Ross Johnston exists on this roster to rip off guys heads and ideally shit down their neckholes. Wilson was horribly overdue for such. And if Trotz was saving a suspension to let Johnston rip off Kucherov’s head and shit into his food and airpipes? Well that didn’t happen either. Don’t dress a guy and feed him fiber to not properly use him.
By the way, the reference to a Tale of Two Cities? The Islanders formally divorced Brooklyn during the 2019- 2020 season as I predicted before the season started, and will play their final “old” home season at the Nassau Coliseum in 2020- 2021. By then, their new state of the at arena that’s already been surpassed in Los Angeles before they open will be ready for an extra 8 miles and 40 minutes of traffic. The move to Brooklyn was an insult to a fanbase in not just moving the team away to a different city. It was an insult to Nassau County who didn’t just give in to a criminal with urban development dreams. It was an insult to intelligent fans who know that no one leaves the advantages of a New York market for Quebec or Kansas City. And for the folks saying Belmont is the swan song for Charles Wang? It was more like his ultimate failure that after owning the Islanders for a decade, no one wanted to do business with him, but when you remove criminals from ownership, more synergy exists.
So what’s in store for next season? You’ll find out in the upcoming off season assessment, so stick around.