With yet another change in management in Buffalo – likely to lead to yet another coaching change in Buffalo- the rumors are swirling that Sabres star center Jack Eichel wants out of the organization. And who could blame him? He’s playing for auditioning coaches for about his entire career in an organization who just removed a GM who wasn’t as sharp a hockey mind as his sister is.
There is a team that could absolutely use an Eichel. In fact, every team can use an Eichel. But there is one team that may have need of Jack beyond the surface of the ice- the New York Islanders.
There is a history of these two teams trading with each other involving a disgruntled star player. You may recall Pat LaFontaine going to Buffalo in a package that obtained a package including Pierre Turgeon. And in this situation, a trade would require two packages.
And no, that’s not a euphemism for having the balls to make a trade for a star player. Although testicular fortitude would definitely be needed.
Generally there is a precedence to what you need to acquire a top tier player like an Eichel. That precedence includes a usual haul involving a pick, a lesser NHL player, and a prospect. And we have very recent precedence with Buffalo trading Ryan O’Reilly, where Buffalo took back extra salary from St Louis to acquire an additional pick and prospect. This one needs to be a similar, because the concept to meet Buffalo’s needs may be a little more about chess than checkers while still working in a cap framework.
So, what do the pieces look like in motion?
Josh Bailey and/or Nick Leddy
2022 1st rd pick
Forward Prospect of Buffalo’s choosing
At first glance you may say “This is another armchair GM horseshit deal.” Well, that’s true, I am an armchair GM. But this trade works in really unique ways for both clubs. And again, its not like these two teams don’t have a history of making a trade of a disgruntled center between them.
So how does this work for the Islanders?
Do the Islanders need another center? Yes, yes they do. At $10 million dollars a year? That’s a huge nut, but that helps the Islanders because that salary slot actually hurts Buffalo’s ability to move him. And is there a playoff level team in need of offense more than the Islanders? I’ll wait to hear who.
Why do the Islanders need this center? Because which Islander center on this roster has scored 36 goals in a season? And ran at about a point per game for the last two seasons? Nobody.
Yes, Brock Nelson was rewarded with a long and lucrative contract that will carry him into the productive end of his career, which will be before his career ends. But don’t forget that Nelson also plays left wing. That assignment may serve him better as he ages as there is less defensive responsibility assigned to a wing, and he can still take faceoffs if needed. It also improves the Islanders depth at wing, which is an area of concern for the top 6 Islander forwards.
Suddenly having Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Anthony Beauviller as top six wings gives you a bunch of 20 goal guys surrounding Matthew Barzal and Jack Eichel. Eichel has never had that much talent around him.
There is the curse of the $10 million dollar players do not win cups, which is a legitimate concern. But this Islanders team as constructed? They’re not winning a cup.
And why take back Okposo? He’ll get paid a lot to sit in Bridgeport and retire as a beloved Islander. Maybe he’ll even become the next HC at the Bridge, as this annual disappointment of an issue was mentioned from me via Andrew Gross in his excellent Islanders podcast. Thanks Andrew!
The Islanders team improves offensively, which they absolutely need. It adds depth into the top 6 forward mix, which they absolutely need. It opens up slots in the bottom six for players to NOT make $3.35 million or more to be bottom 6, which they absolutely need. It makes them younger, which they absolutely need. It gives JP Pageau a fresh start with new linemates, and opens a job on that line for one of the highly touted forward prospects in the organization. And it improves their odds as a win now team.
And as the Islander inch closer for moving into Belmont in 16 months, they’ve added star power to their promotions and buzz for the fanbase, of which they will need to sell something that’s not just more of the same.
But how does Buffalo benefit?
You might say that this return is not enough to get Buffalo to make a move this rash. And here is where I will disagree with you. Because in the NHL, every trade involves an invisible player- the salary cap. Every team has cap issues. In the proposed deal Buffalo is unloading $16 million annually for the next 3 years, while taking back either $8.35 million or $14 million in year one of the deal, then either $5 or $11.5 million in year two, then just the $5 million remainder for the life of the Bailey contract. 3 proven, legit NHL players on a bad team can help turn a bad team around faster than hoping prospects work out.
In Bailey, Buffalo gets a pass first forward who would very likely improve the 14 goal output that Skinner produced for NINE MILLION DOLLARS that they’re paying him for the NEXT SEVEN YEARS. You know, because Bailey is elite and all. And frankly I’m shocked that #IslandersKoolAid wouldn’t complain that if Buffalo wanted Bailey, they’d have to add a sweetener on top of Eichel to acquire him. Eyes on Isles said so!
With the departure of Eichel, Buffalo gets rid of a very vocal critic in their locker room, who in his young career has seen a carnival of head coaches and GM’s and would likely again be a thorn in the side of the next head coach after this one as well and could poison upcoming and incoming players. He’ll be replaced with professionals who generally have suffered through the Garth Snow era of constantly losing pretty silently.
Casey Cizikas plays a physical game, which has led to very real concerns on his durability. He has never played a full season and only came close twice in 9 seasons. He has one year left on a deal, which isn’t hard to burn down. And does anyone want to pay CC $4 million at age 31 and beyond for his style of play? That’s a bad idea. A Buffalo idea.
If you need to proof as to where Cizikas’s career is headed, look no further than the other CC, Cal Clutterbuck. Clutterbuck has never played a full season, has never played an 80 game season, and at age 32 just lost a quarter season or more for the second time in the last 4 years. With two years left on that deal, keeping the best 4th line in hockey intact would mean needing a second 4th line to step in to cover the 20+ games that Martin will miss, the 20+ games that Cizikas will miss, and the 20+ games that Clutterbuck will miss.
But how do you break up the best 4th line in hockey? Well, you start by not resigning free agent Matt Martin, and then find a taker by trading out of the horrible Cal Clutterbuck contract.
But to keep them together? You’d have to sign Martin now, and then extend Cizikas soon. That seems like a flat out stupid idea, especially when Ross Johnston is already a 4th liner, Otto Koivula is ready to step in as a 4c, and you can slot Michael Dal Colle and his no goal scoring ass into that other wing. Suddenly the cost of the 4th line goes from $9.35 million (FOR A 4TH LINE) to $2.5 million.
There’s your “resign Mat Barzal” money right there.
So if I am shitting on Cizikas- a player I like but has been very overpaid except for that one season that he scored more than 9 goals- why would Buffalo want him? Because Cizikas brings experience and grit to a team that lacks identity and toughness in Buffalo. He would assume a similar role with the Sabres as he has on the Island- to be a thorn in the side of scorers, kill penalties, and chip in a goal every ten games or so.
Think a penalty killer has no value? Look at Leo Komorov. It explains his 4 year $10 million debacle of a deal.
You may have noticed a variant of this deal involving Nick Leddy in my proposal as an and or. If he is an “and?” I still make the deal. It clears out salary cap space for the Islanders to match what they took back from Buffalo and creates the cap space for Ryan Pulock and roster spot for Noah Dobson. And if Leddy is an “or?” Then it still gives Buffalo a cup winning defenseman to form a second pairing behind Rasmus Ristolainen for just two years and the Islanders give Pageau a guy that can pass to a guy that can pass to JP to help him get his 20 goals as a 3C, a watermark that Bailey has yet to hit in 12 years? 13?
So lets get to another part as to why this deal is good for Buffalo. The Sabres just appointed a new General Manager in Kevyn Adams, who will likely replace head coach Ralph Krueger in 12 months. Adams will be rebuilding a team in perpetual rebuild. He will want to deal off bad contracts. He will want to maximize value while navigating a cap sport. And he will likely want to make his own pick from the Islanders prospect pool. Plus he will want a 1st round draft pick in 2022 as the Islanders aging forward core is 2 years older and probably less productive at that point. Adams may be choosing in the top ten of the NHL draft with that pick.
So if Adams decides that he wants Oliver Whalstrom? OK. What are the odds Whalstrom is a 30 goal scorer? What Islanders prospects recently have blossomed into 30 goal scorers? None? And even if he does? The Islanders just got a proven one from Buffalo. And while wing is an organizational weakness, the Islanders moving Nelson to wing puts a band aid on the matter for a couple of years.
Also, Adams will inherit an immediate multimillion initial salary cap boost, no matter how the deal is structured, and after the first season and second seasons of this will add multimillions more, creating almost $10 million dollars of cap space, which is what they were paying Eichel. Meaning…they can sign another Eichel. It’s a huge cap space win for Buffalo as they enter the rebuild within a rebuild.
So to summarize- the Islanders improve their top 6 talent and their offense and have another flashy name to use to market their new arena. The Sabres get a piece to complement their top winger and/or their top defenseman, a lot of cap flexibility, two future assets, a character player on an expiring contract, and they remove a perpetual headache from the organization. It’s not like Buffalo is going to win a title next year, so why not set up for an eventual run without an expensive headache that needs to be considered in any roster move?
This is part one in a series of relative greatness in professional sports. What’s relative greatness, you ask? It’s a simple concept, actually. Greatness in a sport is often considered in “eras,” a period of time when the game was similar to itself, but not with how it changed over time.
For instance, people call Michael Jordan the greatest of all time, or the GOAT to use the hip lingo. But was he? 6 titles over a what, 8 year span is a pretty strong argument to his greatness. His rising to a new level in big games is also part of his legend.
So I have two questions- and again, I am not questioning that Jordan is great. But Magic Johnson won his first title in his rookie year. Larry Bird won his first title as a sophomore. It took Jordan seven seasons before he won a title, which was faster than the 9 needed by Lebron James. So, how do we tell which is better? Did Jordan just wait out the older guys?
And question two- what if you won your first championship as a rookie, then did it 10 more times over the next 12 years? And was the best defensive player in the league in that time? And led the first ever dowen 3 to 1 playoff series upset in NBA history? And was the first black head coach in NBA history, winning 2 titles as a player coach?
Oh, this guy also won two NCAA titles, and an Olympic Basketball gold medal with the highest point differential in Olympic history for a winning team. And also offered to compete in the high jump for the US, as he was a champion high jumper.
Ladies and gentlemen, the GOAT- Bill Russel.
But very few in the media saw Russell play. He retired in 1969 in a shocking way, and made enemies in the media and in Boston. But the guy has more titles than Tom Brady has Super Bowl appearances.
So we maybe have to change the focus on what GOAT means.
Let’s talk about hockey. Wayne Gretzky holds over 60 individual NHL records. My personal favorite? Faster player to 1000 points, and second fastest player to 1000 points, because he scored points 1001-2000 faster than anyone else scored 1000 points, except Wayne Gretzky.
But the GOAT? Henri Richard won 11 Stanley Cups in a 20 year career, and won Cups in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. So a question, is greatness an individual measure, or is it a team effort?
That’s a question I posed to former NHL player and current consultant- coach without realizing that he is, Rob Schremp. Rob played for 3 NHL teams in his NHL career in two different conferences, and had a pro career nearly spanning three decades, so I felt he would be qualified to answer a simple question:
Who were the players when you played that made you say “That man is great?”
Understand that this is a hard question for any athlete, especially a professional. A pro athlete made it to the highest level of the game based on a mixture of talent, confidence, attitude, and effort. You would be hard pressed to find a pro who says about themselves, “I suck. I just got lucky.”
So I asked Schremp who were some players that were not better per se, but who did you enjoy watching play, or respect their approach to the game, at forward, defense, and goal. One of the picks was surprising until he explained the math behind it.
Beast of a Forward: Pavel Datsyuk. Not the Arizona Coyote version.
On Datysuk – “I didn’t understand how his body got into position. Nobody pulls off a breakaway like Datsyuk. It’s crazy. His deception was nasty. The way his body is presenting and the way he’s selling, there’s no way a goalie doesn’t bite. Physically his weight transfer doesn’t make sense. You could blow your ankle trying to duplicate his body movements.”
“He mastered the art of weight transfer. It’s like water moving, it’s so fluid and graceful. A lot of what is about being a dangler is like dancing. You need to practice the steps with your footwork so that your hands and feet work in synergy, that way your moves create the space you will need to move the goalie. His fluidity and footwork made goalies bite so hard. He was born to be a hockey player.”
Monster Defenceman: Shea Weber
On Weber- “I’ve never seen anyone shoot like that. I played against him in the Memorial Cup at 18 and he was 19, and he ripped a slapshot and broke a guys’ shin pad. He has a hard shot that releases quick and its heavy. He has an accurate, quick, heavy shot. 6’3’, 230 lbs. I don’t know if I’d say he’s underrated, but I’d take him on my team every day of the week. His shots hurt goalies.”
“Shea isn’t a super fast guy, but when do you see him getting posterized on a dangle? He’s always in the right position and makes the right play. His play looks slow on the Canadiens because they skate like waterbugs, but he is calculated. Not everybody has to skate at 100 mph.”
Goalie that solved him: Dwayne Roloson
On Roloson: “Dwayne Roloson had my number. In practice or in games, Dwayne gave me nothing to shoot at. Experienced goalies will fool the players, by trying to make them shoot at a spot, and then take that spot away.”
“There are players like Brodeur that were masters at playing angles, they showed you a place to shoot and made you shoot there, and could throw out an arm or a leg to stop you.”
Schremp described goalies as able to essentially create math in the net, where the positioning of a goalie can geometrically take away all shooting angels for an approaching forward, which led to a question I had that spoke to an NHL specialty of his:
Why are so many NHL players- especially talented scorers- bad at breakaways and shootouts?
“You play in a game that is structured around team and systems. Players are organized by a system and can learn success through it. In a shootout you are doing everything on your own. Goalies have an advantage- you have to make them move. Players have to get the goalie to move. They are the doorkeepers to the face of the net. If they don’t move, you’re shooting at a roadblock, and you need to find the angle that may not be there.”
“The net has faces to it and the more you move laterally, the harder it is for the goalie to keep the face of the net covered completely. If you’re a shooter you have to move yourself to find the faces because coming at a goalie straight on gives the goalie an advantage. They’re a roadblock that you want to make move.”
Schremp mentioned Patrick Kane as a guy that’s good at getting goalies to make the first move, which shifts the advantage to the shooter.
In the long run, Rob’s answer was a mix of both of my premises. There are great individual talents, but that doesn’t matter if there isn’t a system to create a team. Which may be why a guy like Datsyuk was never traded- he helped a team win- and a guy like Weber was- he was great but never got a cup in Nashville. And a guy like Roloson? A career journeyman, but maybe if he’s not injured in game one of the 2006 finals versus the Carolina Hurricanes? It could have changed that label.
Also, despite his insisting that he’s not a coach? Schremp still maintains contact with the game via video consulting. He does so to both stay involved in the game to help players and teams get better. Schremp feels that he has had excellent coaching and professional experiences in his career, and wants to pay forward what he’s learned.
For people interested in contacting Rob for lessons, you can reach out at 44VisionHockey.com (Link).
Schremp also works for a company called AG Health and supports their CBD product VedaECN.com (link).
I have to give my buddy @AmazingInsights credit for this
concept, as anyone who follows his twitter knows his disdain for Josh Bailey.
The question he often asks is “How many games does Bailey take off?” He even
mentioned the title of the Josh Bailey Hide and Seek Tournament…which with the postponement
of the season, I saw it as a challenge to create. So thank you Corona, for
making this idea a reality.
First off, we needed criteria. What is a night off? And we
needed a point system to assess it. The point system came from this- when you
screwed up, you were assessed points toward a score. And when you do something
good? You get credits against those points. Allow me to present the following:
Points per game:
Zero shots on goal (2)
Zero hits (1)
Zero shots on goal is the worst offense you can have if you’re
trying to win games. If you don’t shoot at goal, you can not win games. Pretty
simple so it’s worth two.
Zero hits in a game? You aren’t physically involved. I
understand that there will be discrepancies for such in top 6 and bottom 6
players, so luckily I am only including the top 6.
Game winning goals? A misleading stat, as you may have
scored 5 in the first and held on for a 5-4 win. Not a stat of clutch, but a
stat saying we scored more than them and this one mattered….as much as the rest
of them, just one more.
And goals. The ultimate measure of scoring. Without goals,
there are no assists. Without assists? There are still goals.
Basically, the hockey version of baseballs’ three true outcomes- a walk, a strike out or a home run. Things a defensive player just sort of watches.
Final formula? (Zero shots on goal X2 plus zero hits in an entire game – Game Winning goals X2 plus total goals). That’s the Uselessness Quotient. The higher the number, the more useless you are.
You may have noticed that I did not include assists. You may
be wondering why. If you are a Bailey fanatic, you may say that this is biased
and on purpose. And I would say yes and yes, except not for why you think.
The bias for including assists for players is that Bailey
bias where you talk about total points. I get it. Gretzky had what, 11 seasons
with 100 assists? Surely they matter, right? Except Gretzky made Marty McSorley-
known for nearly killing a guy on the ice- an annual 11 goal scorer despite 250
minutes a season in penalty minutes. 11 goals per Gretzky season is just 2 why
of what Bailey averages.
And the “Bailey Boner” that is half a point a game? McSorley
did that with Gretzky in 1992-93 on the way to a Stanley Cup finals that the
Islanders should have won while racking up 399 regular season penalty minutes. I
wish there were capitals for numbers. That’s almost 7 whole games worth of
penalty minutes on a season. Also? McSorley was a plus that season, unlike
Bailey in his swan song 71 point season. But, assists!
And I’m not counting the Jari Kurri’s and Paul Coffeys of
the Gretzky universe, as you’re about to see.
So ask yourself this- who has Bailey made a scorer? It seems
everyone prospers without Bailey once you account for removing Tavares from
that same line. So I don’t account for assists because they’re Bailey biased,
which gets to the on purpose part. Bailey never made Anders Lee as good a
scorer as Ryan Strome did, so its unfair to use that against him. Why?
Because an assist does not exist without a goal. So any
player getting an assist has a minimum of two other factors involved- another
guy shooting, and a goalie missing. And maybe a defenseman missing, so maybe
three other factors. Oh, and also it could be a secondary assist, so four other
factors. Oh oh, and then a forward may have not backchecked, so five other
factors. Or a guy took your pass and shot it off a defenseman’s ass and it
luckily angled into the net, so six other factors. You see where this is going,
no? In short, there is almost nothing in your control when you get an assist.
Also, a player may make a great, needle threading pass to a
guy on the goalie’s doorstep, just to watch him shoot in into the boards, so we
won’t count assists because that’s not a passive players fault either.
So with that, lets set parameters. We aren’t going to count
guys that aren’t regulars, because I don’t want to do math for everyone. Cya
Keifer Bellows and Tom Khunackl, whose name I will never spell correctly. Also,
if you are injured, we aren’t going to prorate you. Also also, forwards will be
exclusive to this study….maybe. With that, let us analyze who has taken the
most games off!
Here are the contenders at Bailey’s Hide and Seek
Mathew Barzal Brock
Anders Lee Josh
Jordan Eberle Anthony
And for shits and giggles:
Ryan Pulock Devin
Based on our scoring system, here are the totals, I have to
admit, based on manpower stats- things you can do with your own hands
productively- they’re surprising:
Player (In order of Best to Worst) Uselessness
Anders Lee 5
Brock Nelson 12
Anthony Beauvilier 13
Ryan Pulock 18
Jordan Eberle 28
Derick Brassard 37
Nick Leddy 38
Mathew Barzal 38.
Devin Toews 42
JOSH BAILEY 63
Just to remind everyone how we got these scores: (Games w no
shots X2 plus games w no hits – game winnings goals X2 plus goals).
No shot and no hits are damning. That Nick Leddy- a player
many Islander fans call useless, even Beth- has the same uselessness score as
the elite Mathew Barzal shows why Barry Trotz sat his ass so much last season.
But it’s hard to ignore the Josh Bailey number. Brassard was
almost twice more useful. Lee was more than 12 times more useful.
How did Bailey get there? Easy. 14 goals are a lot by Bailey
standards, especially considering that the season was abbreviated. It’s less
than half of his 31 goal pace from November 6 2019, or 21 goal pace from
December 1 2019, but he was angling at maybe 17 with a hot hand, which would be
just about a career year for Bailey goals…assuming he got 3 more. There’s also
a good chance he ended the season with 15, in top 6 minutes and top line power
play time. Want to know why?
Bailey led the team with 14 games without a shot on goal. In 68 games. That’s a game with no shots on goal percentage of 21%. One out of 5. So in the last 14 games? We can expect 3 without a shot on goal. So to hit 17 he’s need 3 in 11 games, when his average this season was a goal every 5 games. And take away empty net goals? Ouch. 15 was the limit.
Only two other forwards and one of the defensemen had double
digit games with no shots on goal: Derick Brassard (13) and Anthony Beauvilier
(10). We all know how streaky Beau is, which is why he makes around $2 million.
And Brassard less.
The Barzal number was also surprising. Barzal shoots more
than ever, but he does not make contact. He avoided contact in 51 of 68 games,
compared with Baileys 53 in 68. Bailey takes 78% of games off from physical
contact; Barzal a little less. No one is even close to those guys. Even softie
Brock Nelson hits about half of his games. Best forward for initiating contact?
Brassard, followed by Beau- 3rd liners that floated north on
And defensemen without grit? Toews. Just saying, when you
think of that next contract, think a young Thomas Hickey without the goal
Also? Leddy is totally tradable. He’s a right handed
defenseman which is a hot NHL commodity. Time to sell, yo!
Understand that before I started this exercise, I did not cherry
pick these stats with a predetermined end result in mind. I chose stats that
someone can control with their own hands. You can choose to shoot or not. You
can choose to hit or not. You can score goals or not- usually an indicator of
shooting. And you can be clutch or not, which was the only one I was on the
fence about weight on, until I saw how many times a player is credited a game
winner versus how few we recall happening. But then end result?
Josh Bailey wins the first annual Josh Bailey Hide and Seek
Championship! In a blowout! If you added in contract value via cap hit per
production? Bailey’s production is worth
$84m of the 2019-2020 salary cap. Basically, Bailey has the production of a
person versus a carnival barker, or against the house in Vegas.
I invite any fan to use my formula to go over Bailey’s history as an Islander and see if this is a one off…or a career trend. I have my inklings, and they’re that Bailey is a bigger hide and seek dynasty than the one he’s producing with his wife. Or as we often say, more of the same Bailey. Let us know.
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with former New York
Islander Rob Schremp. Most Islander fans are probably familiar with Schremp’s
shoot out prowess or remember that insane baseball bat goal he pulled off
against Colorado (did you know that he meant to do that?), but does the average
fan realize that in his Islander career he averaged more than half a point a
game- a better average than more touted teammates Doug Weight and Trent Hunter despite
often playing with bottom 6 forwards?
Our conversation was inspired by Schremp’s decision to walk
away from hockey on his own accord and start a new life and career. It struck
me curious that he never re-emerged in the NHL, so I reached out to ask him how
the New York native found his way to the NHL, about his path afterwards, and
about life after professional sports. He was gracious enough to share his
experiences and insights, which I found out was a consistent theme for his
I’m not a big fan of directly quoting a person because
people can read words the way they want despite the intent of the speaker, but
Rob gave me the double challenge of having a colorful vocabulary, so whereas I’m
not one to why away from saying fuck, I do try to limit my output. Thus a
series of direct quotes may have alerted my bosses! However, there are studies
that say people who curse are more honest than people who do not. So on that
standard, Rob Schremp is one fucking honest and decent guy.
Schremp’s path to the NHL started at a young age. His skill
set progressed so rapidly that when he was 14 he made the goal of playing in
the NHL. Imagine knowing what you want at 14? At 14 I was figuring out how to
pump off, but Rob already had the first love of his life and was blazing a pro
sports career. I suck,
By age 15 other people were taking notice of Schremp, which
made him “Put all of his eggs in a basket.” His ability and his confidence made
him stand out among his peers, which led to his impressive tenure in the OHL.
Shremp played so well that he caught the attention of the Edmonton Oilers, who
took him with the 25th pick of the 2004 NHL draft. That’s the first
round, if you’re counting.
In his last year in the OHL, Schremp posted an unreal 57-88-145 in just 57 games, and another 47 points in 19 playoff games. There was another first round draft pick that played for both the London Knights and the New York Islanders, but he didn’t have stats like that in London.
Edmonton noticed, and sent Schremp to the AHL over the next few seasons, with a cup of coffee call up in three different NHL season from 2006 to 2009.
Being in an NHL training camp was surreal for Schremp. He recalled
playing against Team USA and Dallas Stars legend Mike Modano, and how Schremp
initially felt it was respectful to lose a faceoff to the veteran, but then
when he tried to win them? Same result. The takeaway? You have to buckle down
and be better to survive in the NHL.
And when Schremp started to buckle down in the NHL- getting
3 points in 4 games with the Oilers in the 08-09 season, Edmonton unusually waived
Schremp towards the end of training camp, only to be snapped up by a horrible
Islanders team. And they were horrible. In the midst of drafting at 5, 1, 5, 5,
and 4 over a 5 year span.
The Schremp Islander era was defined by the best offensive
output of his professional career, but also a changing of the guard at coach
and an interesting anecdote. Schremp shared that if a coach that has a philosophy
guiding his decision making without accounting for the personnel on the team,
he is pretty much bound to lose the locker room. In case you forgot some
Islander history, Head Coach Scott Gordon wanted to employ an offensive
philosophy of “Overspeed,” despite having players like Doug Weight and Trent
Hunter as key forwards, whose qualities were more about possession and
controlling the pace of the game instead of basically dumping and chasing.
As Schremp pointed out, Gordon was fired after a 14 game
losing streak. A locker room can collapse in the midst of such if they aren’t a
tight bunch, but even with the tightest room, with 14 straight losses change
seems inevitable. And with the Islanders keeping Gordon around after the
firing? Schremp pointed out that he hadn’t experienced anything like that in
his career. Islander fans take note- other organizations don’t run like the
SnoWang era Islanders did. Which I guess means professionally.
The Islanders waived Schremp to make room for some of the
budding young players (umm, who?) in the organization, and he landed with the
Atlanta Thrashers for their final season. Despite having a successful exit
interview at seasons end, the Thrashers had an unsuccessful exit interview with
the city of Atlanta and moved to Winnipeg, with Shremp finding out about a
change of ownership and location via a text message from Captain Andrew Ladd. Which
seems mildly unprofessional, but then again, a different team fired their coach
and left him stranded outside of the bus recently, so it is not unprecedented.
One story Schremp shared that I felt was amazing that was
during his time with the Islanders he personally answered his fan mail. Even if
he suspected a person was posing as a child to have a picture or card
autographed, he still took the time to comply with fan requests, or to interact
with fans in the pre-game warm ups. While this seems to be a standard practice
in the league now, it was seen as a sign of not being serious about the game on
hand back then. The story reminded me of the Mets Lastings Milledge high fiving
fans after hitting a game tying home run, only to be scolded by his teammates
after. Sports are supported by fans- why be a dick to them?
In looking back at his time in the NHL, Schremp identified a
problem that existed for himself and players like him versus someone coming
into the league with different expectations. In his opinion, there is less
pressure for a mid level offensive player coming into the NHL than there is for
a guy that has historically produced points. “For a guy that can score, they
except that from themselves and they’ve realized their potential that way and
way to expand. I want to score and I’ve proven that I can, so that kind of
mentality is predicted to translate to pro. But if you expect people to produce
junior numbers you have to provide the same opportunity.”
So when you spend time giving a mid level scorer top minutes and an offensive player 12 minutes a night? You end up losing 14 games in a row.
Another statistic that is pretty remarkable from his career was that when the postseason rolled around, Schremp found another gear. Aside from his eye popping 10-37-47 in 19 games back in 2005-06, the year before he was 13-16-29 in 18 games, finishing second in postseason scoring to Corey Perry. In his entire career, he averaged 1.3 points per game in the postseason. When it was time to show up to the dance, he always showed up.
Oftentimes athletes are forced to leave the game behind due to diminished skills. They get old. They get slow. They break. Nolan Bushnell taught me that as you age after 16, you lose microseconds of reaction time. Add that over a decade, and you’re a second or so slower than your opponent. This wasn’t the case for Schremp. In his last professional season he led his team in scoring, but lacked the passion that brought him to the game as a child, so he walked away from hockey and into something you wouldn’t expect- predictability.
To a person that works a 9 to 5 job at the same place every
day, comes home to the same place, sees the same people, doing something
different can be exhilarating. But what if you spent 15 years not having a
home? Travelling from city to city living out of a suitcase? Meeting new people
in every city and with each team roster you make? Spending a limited time with
your family? It can wear on a person, and in this case, it did. The politics in
sports can be crippling. As Schremp said “The game showed some of its ugly side
to me, so I said that’s enough. I spoke w my wife and closed my own door. If
you came with on offer, I wouldn’t sign it.”
Except, Schremp left the sport without a concrete plan. He
was shedding the skin of his former self and becoming something new. The only goal
he has was that he wanted to be able to put energy and passion into whatever he
wanted to do. And he ultimately landed with a company that led to the discovery
of a new passion.
Towards the end and also after his career, Schremp was dealing with depression and anxiety, and was prescribed Xanax and other meds associated with the two diagnoses. The meds were powerful, and they were taking a toll on his quality of life. Add to that the expectation of becoming a parent, and Schremp was feeling an extra wave of anxiousness. The impact of the Xanax was just not going to work with the demands of being a dad.
Towards the end of his career, Schremp came across a company called AG Health which carries a CBD product Vedaecn.com that pretty much became a substitute and replacement for Xanax. People around him noticed the positive effects that CBD was having on Schremp, and he felt better using something more natural.
With some new found time on his hands, Schremp became a
product advocate, then an ambassador, to his now self described liaison position
with AG Health. He found another passion
outside of the ice.
The thing about passions is that they change over time. What
you liked when you were 5 may be a part of your life forever, but if that’s the
only thing in your life? You screwed up.
And that’s the hybrid that Schremp has created. Schremp still
maintains contact with the game via video consulting. He does so to both stay involved
in the game to help players and teams get better. Schremp feels that he has had
excellent coaching and professional experiences in his career, and wants to pay
forward what he’s learned. “I think it’s a modern way of sharing knowledge and
allows me to do things like stop video and write notes, and to show people how
to use their vision. The everyday grind of hockey is hard, but consulting lets
me help people.”
For people interested in contacting Rob for lessons, you can
reach out at 44VisionHockey.com.
The transition from pro athlete to regular guy seems to suit
Schremp just fine. For instance, we had to pause our interview because he had
to feed his daughter some yogurt, which was clearly the priority. He’s taken to
jamming on the guitar. He’s not packing a bag 67% of the year to go somewhere
else. Retirement from a sport wasn’t gut wrenching or regretful. It was a
renaissance. He has found a new passion, a way to stay connected to his sport
on his terms, and he absolutely sounds happy with where he is in life.
So here’s the final part. I met Rob about a decade ago at an
Islanders fan- player meet up at a restaurant in Hempstead. As the event ended,
Rob asked me to hang around. When we talked, he asked me where it was fun to
hang out on Long Island, so I made some recommendations (RVC, Huntington for
the record). I think we did shots, but it was a while ago, and shots aren’t
always memorable. But I liked that you could speak with him, and that he was
confident enough to admit that he’s in an unusual environment and needed a
little direction. Or as you may say in sports, he was coachable.
So when I reached out to him for an interview, he said yes. Because as a player, he wrote fans back. I’m not a fan of athletes just because they play a game, and specifically for Schremp, how could I be? His NHL teams weren’t exactly overachievers. What could I root for but crazy shootout skills and perseverance? But I remembered how approachable he was, and the truth is, I DID enjoy watching his shootouts. I’m a little shocked that his shootout skills should be something an NHL team uses similar to a DH in order to gain playoff points- which is probably the future of the game as presently constructed. So as Rob Schremp has left the game, I feel that he gave the sport an insight as to how to create a roster for the future. And there’s nothing more lasting than being the game changer that redesigned a sport. If only the sport is smart enough to get it. Think about how Larry Bird shot 3 pointers in the 1980’s versus how they’re shot now for a comparison.
Professional hockey allowed a person to have a very diverse
career spanning two different hemispheres, but in the process it taught him
about himself and to value what life presents you when you least expect it. But
what its taught us is that for a professional athlete, life doesn’t end when
you hang up your skates. It’s really just beginning.
The New York Islanders have been a pleasant surprise for the
second season in a row, which is a delight to Islander fans who are used to
horrible surprises in back to back seasons, like naming your backup goalie your
new GM just in time to hand over a 15 year contract, and the shit shows that
But there is a refrain that started last season and has kept rolling, which is that the Islanders do not have enough offense. This narrative has not changed thanks to the free agent departure of some Toronto cuckold, the free agent rejection of a Russian who has won less than Ilya Kovalchuk in his career, the alleged rejection of an offer sheet for an opinionated kid out of Toronto that loves Matt Martin, and the failed trade for a Stone rolling out of Ottawa.
So when you read this thesis, you’re going to say that it’s
stupid. On some level I will agree with you, but for reasons that you won’t understand.
You’ll even say “How does that solve a problem?” And I’ll tell you how.
Here’s the thesis: Josh Bailey is Fucking Useless.
You might think you know how I got here, but trust me, you
have no idea.
At this point you’re having one of three reactions:
How dare I suggest that Mr. Islander Josh Bailey
Who is Josh Baily?
Let’s give each reaction their due.
First off, Islanders Kool Aid loves Bailey. Who are
Islanders Kool Aid. Here’s the litmus test. Just ask the following questions:
Did Charles Wang save the team?
Was Mike Milbury a shittier GM than Garth Snow?
If the answers are “Yes” and “Yes?” You got yourself some
Kool Aid. So what IS Islanders Kool Aid? They’re the fans that celebrate a
close loss. That think every prospect will exceed the production of Bryan
Trottier and Mike Bossy- especially Josh Ho-Sang. That the Islanders “won the
They’re a fan base that is wholly ready to fly a “We Tried”
banner next to the legends of the organization, and would retire the number of
a guy whose only organization leading stat is “Showed up to the arena.”
Bailey has been an Islander his entire career, since he was
passed on in his draft 8 times and was shockingly available every time the
Islanders traded down in that draft to acquire picks that they did absolutely
nothing to help the team with. How do I know? Where’s the Snake? And who also
caused the Islanders to trade a 5th overall pick years later to get
a guy taken a few picks after Bailey in Jordan Eberle. More on Eberle later.
Bailey’s career has been defined by 8 years of shitty
hockey, putting up around 30 points in each lackluster campaign in which the
only impact he made on the team was a negative one. Terrible goals totals for a
top 6 forward, peaking at 16 goals as a sophomore. A plus minus like a coal
mine in West Virginia.
There was not a lot to root for there, if you look at
Also, in Baileys first 8 years, he had burned through 3
Islander contracts. His entry level and RFA deals saw Bailey post 58 goals over
those five years- an average of 12 goals a season.
This was time for him to cash in. And it was the birth of
the Bailey paradox.
The Bailey paradox is the idea that because he’s our guy on
our team and he sucks? We have to like him. And the more he sucks? Like when he
takes no shots for 3 or 4, or5 games in a row? The more you love him. Also, he
has had spans where he has gone 3 or 4 or 5 games in a row without a shot.
Fun fact- Bailey had more games with zero shots on goal in
2018-2019 than Alexander Ovechkin has had in his entire career. But why would I
compare Bailey to Ovechkin? I didn’t. Kool Aid did.
Bailey’s mythology only grew when he took a “team friendly”
UFA contract in the summer of 2013. Kool Aid started to call him elite, citing
that he produced somewhere around four tenths of a point a game. Heady numbers.
To reward the organizations faith in his nearly $17 million contract coming off
of the first $5 million he made as an Islander? Bailey scored 8 goals over the
entire next season. Just like elite Ovechkin would, right?
In fact, every time Bailey signs a new contract? His numbers regress the very next season. Shocker!
This is when we get to reaction number two about Josh
Bailey- who is he?
Opposing teams fans will largely have no idea who he is. For
two reasons. One, they’ve watched their home teams play the Islanders and never
noticed him. Which explains the nickname “Invisibailey.” Ever see him take a
game off? Where he didn’t appear in a scoresheet save for attendance? Sure you
have. Other fans notice, too. They’re almost stunned when he does something,
because if you play the Islanders twice a year, he is very likely to do nothing
in either game. Maybe he gets a goal but probably not. Maybe a hit, but
Josh Bailey has as many career hat tricks as MICK VUKOTA.
Mick just became a top 6 forward! Speaking of…
A top six forward shouldn’t average 108 shots a year. That’s
not even near two a game. And a game where he puts up 5 shots- there are a
couple in his career- that’s 2 games off in return.
Also, Josh Bailey has never tested the free agent market.
Bailey signed an entry level deal, a restricted free agent deal, a “team
friendly” deal that tripled his salary, and another team friendly deal that
almost doubled it. Bailey is making a team friendly 6.25% of the entire salary
cap (it was a higher percentage when he signed the deal) to…avoid free agency.
When a player like John Tavares leaves the only team he ever
knew, it’s rare. He’s been super well compensated, treated like a king, and
usually has a team around him built to win. Usually. Garth Snow tried to build
a team around Tavares centered on Josh Bailey and Andrew Ladd. And we all saw
the results. Oh, how do I figure?
Ladd was the most significant Islanders free agent signing
in the last 5 years, and the entire Garth Snow era. And Bailey was the guy Snow
had to extend in season to show a commitment to winning to JT.
No wonder he ran home to Toronto to take the strap on.
But that’s Tavares. Bailey is on no comparable level to
Most unimportant players use free agency to shop their low
to average stats to hop from a team that may not be successful (Garth Snow
era?) to a team that feels it needs to make incremental improvements and can
use some “veteran leadership” and “experience” and “Hockey IQ” to cash in on a
raise that wasn’t available to the team that already saw what they had. But
that’s a competitive market.
It could backfire- see Vanek, Thomas. Boy, I’m sure he’s pissed that he said no to 7 years and $49 million from Garth Snow…a contract that the Islanders would still be paying out to him had he signed it. It only cost Vanek about $22 million that I bet he could use. Bet.
And in a competitive field? We already saw how Bailey
competes. He becomes Failey. Even if he left the Islanders for a contract better
than $30 million- which no one was offering- it would be on less years. And the
deal after that? Khunackhll money. Stupid fucking name.
Also, how do I know no one was offering? Garth Snow offered
Bailey at the 2015 draft straight up for a 1st round pick. Team friendly
deal? 29 rejections.
That’s why Bailey never bothered hitting the market. There
wasn’t one. He was a DeSoto in a Tesla world.
So when other fans say “Josh Bailey? Didn’t he score against
us when Jeremy Roenick was still on the team? Why do they sing songs about him?”
Because he is a Kool Aid legend. Like Charles Wang and Garth
Snow. And the word legend? It means shit you tell stories about that never really
Lastly, there is the kryptonite to Islanders Kool Aid. They are
referred to as Islanders Realists. Generally, they are curmudgeons. But they’re
terribly correct with their expectations. Maybe not as much in the Trotz Era,
but about 99% right before that.
Realists have the “No shit” reaction to my Josh Bailey is
useless premise. Because, Josh Bailey is useless.
Lets look at the Golden Age of Bailey. It’s like looking at
a game of Three Card Monty.
The Golden Age of Josh Bailey started when he was placed as
a first line forward with John Tavares, and ended the next season when he was a
first line forward with John Tavares and Anders Lee.
Why is it a Golden Age? Because in the 2016-2017 season Josh
Bailey did something he never did before. He led the league in a statistic. Sure,
it was arriving at the arena, which he tied with many other players. And only
scored one more goal than his career average despite never missing a game and
playing top 3 minutes. But first is first! And in fairness, he had a then
career high with 13 fucking goals added to a coattails 43 assists. But the best
was yet to come.
That watermark was the 2017-2018 season. Bailey had his only
career All Star appearance. Just as many invites as enforcer John Scott and
Buffalo Sabre Zemgus Girgensons, and just as deserving. But here’s the interesting
thing. Bailey made the 2018 All Star game- the ending of the Tavares Islanders era
game. But the unrestricted free agents Garth Snow let walk away in Frans
Neilsen and Kyle Okposo? They both made the 2017 All Star Game without riding
the coattails of John Tavares a year sooner.
Andres Ladd has yet to make an All Star game as an Islander.
But I’m pretty sure he mouthfucked a carp.
Bailey’s stats ramped up in 2018-2019 to a very respectable
71 points which is how he earned that All Star cap tip. But the thing I always
found interesting- on New Years Day 2019, Bailey had 50 points. He ended the
season with 71.
Bailey also did his best Mike Bossy impression, scoring 18
goals in 82 games. Sure, 50 in 50 sounds sexier, but did Bossy ever play in 82 games?
Nope. Not once. Inconsistent. Not like Bailey.
It’s not that every single winger that played a full time season with John Tavares scored at least 20 goals. It just happened for Matt Moulson, PA Parenteau, Brad Boyes, Kyle Okposo, Thomas Vanek, Anders Lee, Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman, Andrew Ladd, and Sparky.
I’m sure it wasn’t that Tavares took the last few days off
in that season to preserve himself for Toronto’s bidding so Bailey had no
coattails to ride. The only other options is, Bailey only had one guy to tap in
rebounds with, and Lee was prodigious in the last two weeks of the season or
else Bailey does 10 points between January and April.
Oh, Bailey signed that contract extension also, so why try?
None of Baileys 71 point masterstroke mattered, as the
Islanders missed the playoffs. Basically, his stats were the equivalent of jerking
off into a plant, Harvey Weinstein style.
And when Tavares left Bailey? Tavares had his best season
ever. SNAKE GOT RID OF BAILEY AND HAD HIS BEST SEASON EVER. There goes that
horseshit playmaker hockey IQ myth.
So even at Bailey’s absolute best, just two years ago when
he put up 71 points making $3.3 million a year, he was untradeable. That’s a
fucking problem. Because every team in the NHL saw his best effort, and it
landed the Islanders in the lottery.
You think Bailey would motivate a bad team to make a move to
ensure their reaching the salary cap floor while guaranteeing a lottery draft
pick- you know, just how Charles Wang saved the team. Yet no bad team wanted
And that’d because at any dollar amount, be it $825,000 or
$3,000,000 or $5,000,000, Josh Bailey is fucking useless.
Why is he useless? Because after his hallmark 18 goal
season, a funny thing happened. Bailey had his first real coach.
Islanders Kool Aid has always attributed Bailey’s lack of
utility as a function of his being “rushed” to the NHL. Sure, Bailey was rushed
onto a bad team, but no more rushed to a bad team than players like Jack
Eichel, Nathan MacKinnion, Connor McDavid, Jeff Skinner, Noah Hanifin, and
Anthony Beauvilier. Rushed just as young into the league as Taylor Hall. Which
I’ll mention shortly.
Kool Aid will say that you can’t harangue a man for his
history. People learn and change. Bailey has spent 12 years in the NHL. Surely
after the first 8 he got the hang of it! Because a 27 year old man was rushed…so
he can’t possibly overcome the current level of 18 year olds outperforming him!
Somehow, they weren’t rushed.
Or…maybe rush has to do with talent and ability?
Understand when we talk Bailey’s ability and hockey IQ, Rob
Schremp outperformed him in his time as an Islander.
So after this golden age- a decade into his career, a time
when he had seemingly ‘figured it out’- he had a 20% decline in his production.
And is on pace this year for another decline. And despite being coached by Hall
of Fame head coach Barry Trotz, on both November 7 2018 and November 7 2019,
Bailey was on a 31 goal pace for his season. Last year he ended with 16. This
season? I’ll take all the $20 bets that come in that Bailey ends the season
with less than 20 goals.
“BUT BAILEY SCORED AN OT WINNER AGAINST PITTSBURGH!” Yes, he
did. After Mathew Barzal deeked the entire state of Pennsylvania out of the
rink. I’m shocked Bailey didn’t miss that open net, quite frankly. Fucking Shane
Prince scored two goals in a playoff game once. Let’s give him a handy!
So to summarize my thesis. Josh Bailey is fucking useless. I
mentioned three players that we shall compare Bailey with. Two of these three
were not my creation but that of Islanders Kool Aid. But there is one entirely
is in my head.
Alexaner Ovechkin is the greatest goal scorer I have seen
since Jaromir Jagr and Mike Bossy. It’s what he does. He is an elite, Hall of
Fame player. He is a champion.
And if I were Ovechkin and were being compared to Josh
Bailey? I’d shit in every moron’s mouth that said so. Shit right into their
brainless empty head. It wouldn’t matter, because they already have shit for
Ovechkin makes just about less than double Josh Bailey. His
statistics are just about less than double Josh Bailey over the last 4 years.
So point for point, they make pretty much even money.
Except in that time period, Ovechkin won a Stanley Cup. And took a team friendly deal to improve the squad. With the same head coach as Bailey. And has a fucking Hall of Fame career. And Ovechkin’s goals scored numbers over the last 4 years match just about the entire 12 year career of Josh Bailey. 300% more goals scored in that same 4 year span. Ovechkin has almost TWIC as many power play goals than Bailey has CAREER GOALS. Astronomical.
If Bailey is elite, Ovechkin is just about Bossy.
Then there’s Jordan Eberle. Drafted after Bailey, so clearly
fat fuck GM Garth Snowcone could have traded back a few more times and gotten a
player who almost always scored at least 20 goals, and has occasionally scored
30 goals. Two things Bailey has NEVER DONE. And get this- Eberle took a PAY CUT
to stay with the Islanders. A team friendly deal!
Waittttt….Bailey took a 180% pay raise to stay with the
team. Eberle took a 10% pay cut to stay with the team. Someone is a hero. I
give a fuck who. And if you compare dollars per goal, Eberle is the bargain.
But the last one I want to compare to is the best one.
Taylor Hall. Makes very similar money to Bailey despite winning a league MVP.
Hall generally scored 20-30 goals annually.
Hall is like a leveled up Bailey. Put up on average about
30% more points than Bailey does. In their best year put up about 30% more
points than Bailey does. Won an MVP. Took a moribund franchise back to the
And his ass got traded! But for what?
And here is why we see that Bailey is absolutely fucking useless.
NHL MVP Taylor Hall and half of his salary and a prospect were
traded for a first round draft pick, a conditional draft pick, a defensive
prospect, and two prospects that are so obscure that Hockeydb.com had no idea
who they were. Neither did hockeyreference.com and capfriendly.com. If a
prospect shits in the woods and no one smells it, is it a prospect?
Did I mention that the Devils allegedly paid half of Hall’s
So in case you missed it, a former league MVP was traded for
a prospect, two very low prospects, a 1st round draft pick, and a
floating pick. That’s a fucking awful haul for an MVP and an annual 20 and
occasional 30 goal scorer.
So, if that’s the haul?
How do you trade a useless player? What are you going to get?
That’s not the best question. The best question is what do
you give to get rid of an albatross that never lead a team to an important win?
That’s where Isles Kool Aid and Isles Realists differ. Isles
Kool Aid thinks every prospect is a superstar. They’re not. Almost none will even
register. 3 years ago those fuckups though Keifer Bellows was Patrick Kane.
Now? Kane wouldn’t even bother to rape him. Either Kane.
But say Bellows was a good prospect- which he’s not. We don’t
trade him because? Because a win now team cannot trade unproven prospects for
the help that can put them over the top today? Yeah nah. Many teams trade
prospects that are ok for better players. Look at how the Boston Bruins moved
Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton to keep a competitive team. But we need to
hang on to fucking Michael Dal Colle?
I like Michael Dal Colle as a human being. Great back story.
Can relate. But what the fuck is he doing in skates? Dude should work at Cock
Fil A. Moving slowly.
If all a former MVP gets is a scant prospect, 2 long shot
prospects, a 1st, and something else but only if you pay for him,
let me ask you this:
What does Josh Bailey draw from another team?
Based on Hall? At best, a 3rd and a conditional 3nd.
And here’s $2.5 million back on this mess. Which still fucks our cap, and gives
us nothing to help a win now roster. Because even in losing Bailey, Bailey
fucks us just like he has done since he’s been here. Bailey never wins, and currently
we have so little coattails now for anyone to notice him.
Pretty much, all of Bailey’s value lies in unloading his cap
hit. And based on Halls’ deal, the Islanders can’t even do that for a declining
coattail riding piece of shit player.
Bailey eats cap space without improving the team. Bailey is
untradeable because what the fuck does he do outside of being a negative and
never propelling his team to a win? No one has ever traded for Bailey except
Garth Snow who is a massive fuck up. No team ever leaked a Bailey rumor, except
maybe about his sexuality? That team? The Islanders.
Josh Bailey is untradeable. He is overpaid. All he does it hurt.
As I have empirically proven, Josh Bailey is NOWHERE near
elite. He’s not above average unless you cherry pick weirdly useless advanced
stats. However, he IS completely fucking useless. He can’t be traded for any
value. Nor does he create value for this team. All he has shown in his career
is an ability to fail, which is more of the same.
And that’s the problem. Baileys utter lack of utility makes
him untradeable. We’re stuck with him. As I predicted 2 years ago, he will end
his Islander career with more games played than any Islander ever. And that is
an indictment on how large a failure this organization has been. A team
spending 92% of the cap ceiling with fucking Leo Komorov and Josh Bailey as
catalysts to show for it. Stanley Cup? Meet Dixie Cup.
Josh Bailey is fucking useless.
You can respond in the comments or @JoshBarely on Twitter. It won’t make Bailey suck less.
Every now and then we have a writing contribution from our wonderful audience. This column is written by one of our fans, @AmazingInsights from Twitter. Enjoy! – Dan
Let’s get right to the point – If you think the Islanders are going to be anywhere NEAR 103 points this coming season, you really REALLY need to read this blog. Oh, before you do, may I suggest you first turn OFF your emotions, put down the #isleskoolaid and then consider these very real issues.
To appreciate what
happened last year, you had the following themes:
1. Lou became GM
and changed the mindset of the lockerroom
2. Trotz became
Coach and got a coaching staff with a clue
3. We had the
“eff John Tavares” Battle Cry
4. We had the
emotional feel good Lehner Story.
5. A number of
players were playing for Contracts
From where I sit, a LOT
of emotional energy across all those items is what truly drove this team.
But did you notice something after the sweep of the
Penguins? A week off and – to be honest – they lost the emotional
“mojo”. It really is a hard thing to turn
The 2019 Season
So far, I don’t think I haven’t raised anything that can be considered confrontational. But that’s about to change. Now it’s time to take an HONEST assessment of the team as it sits on August 26, 2019. No emotional thinking, no “isleskoolaid” logic (is that an oxymoron?) and no “I bleed Orange and Blue” nonsense. Just an honest assessment.
So first, you might want
to open this link in another tab, because you may want to have it as a handy
reference for the sections below:
A. And that would be – SCORING. For all intents and they are
bringing back the same team (more on this in a second). While there are
NO new impact players, we now have SEVERAL players who played well in their
contract years to get absurd over termed contracts. And if you
think Bailey is finally going to show up to score 20 this season, you might
want to put down the “Bailey Bahama Blue Koolaid”, because Bailey
hasn’t ONCE scored 20 in a season.
PowerPlay. You can argue that for the first time in AGES we have a
Powerplay coach with a pulse – or clue – with Jim Hiller. With
luck, Hiller can have the same effect that Mitch Korn did on our Goalies.
But lets NOT forget that the #isles have a “Hey we have two entire
minutes to pass the puck before we take a shot” mentality on the
Powerplay, so Hiller has his work cut out for him.
Both Lehner and Greiss
benefitted from the Mitch Korn the “Goalie Whisperer”.
The fact this duo won the Jennings Trophy speaks VOLUMES as to why last years
team got 103 Points.
Oh and a quick News
Flash !!! Lehner isn’t here anymore and we now get to see what magic can
be sprinkled on Varlamov. Oh, and Varlamov is a little older than
Lehner – and – has some injury history.
Let’s be honest.
There was a TON of emotional energy that was channeled last
year. So the “everyone thinks we will suck because JT isn’t
here” mantra is history – as is the “feel good” story around Lehner.
Here is hoping that
Trotz knows what buttons to push to get this team ready, but I think he
has a MUCH harder road this year. MUCH MUCH harder.
4. They aren’t
going to surprise anyone
The Islanders surprised
a lot of teams last year. I believe a LOT of this was emotionally
driven (ie JT) but it was also coaching that turned around the hellacious
Snow/Weight “coached” teams. Using the word coached when
it comes to Snow/Weight is insulting to even beer league coaches.
But now other teams know
the Islanders M.O. and as such they will have lost the “surprise”
element to their game
Check out ALL the ages
(notice a theme here) on the CapFriendly link, including our so called
“Top 6”. The NHL is now a “young man’s league” and
here come the Islanders with a number of key players 30 or older.
The Islanders suddenly
look .. shall we say .. O L D.
Lets NOT forget
Clutterbuck at 31 is coming off MAJOR back surgery. Keep repeating
that until it sinks in. Major Back Surgery. For those old
enough, remember what happened to Mo Vaughn after his injury. And
for those young enough, look no further than Robinson Cano. And
those guys play BASEBALL. Hockey is MUCH more physical.
And Varlamov – he is 30
as well. And he was hurt last year as well.
I don’t know many
players whose body becomes less immune to injury as they get older
I use this term to
describe a player who magically decides to show up in the contract year, gets a
large contract – and then returns to his normal output.
Be very worried about
the contracts given to Nelson and Lee. The biggest problem is the
term, because how long do you expect to get that production from either player.
Always fear the year after signing a contract, because the focus on
playing for the contract is now over.
7. The “4th
Remember what I said
about getting older and a physical game. The 4th line likes to
hit. The question here, what exactly can you expect from
Clutterbuck after surgery ?
I have focused on age a
lot in this entry. This really isn’t a young team, and it really
starts getting ugly 2 years from now (again go to Cap Friendly and start
adding 2 or 3 years to the players ages) Lou is going to have to
unload a LOT of people in the next few years – and QUICKLY
Lesson: The NHL is
a young man’s league.
9. Roster and Cap
While you are looking at
Cap Friendly, now look at the total the Islanders and spending this year.
Do you see any “elite” players? I sure don’t – yet we
don’t have a lot of room to sign an impact player.
This is why the Mitch Marner talk was absurd. Remember at the END
of this coming year you need to sign Barzal AND Pulock. That 7-8
million cap space is likely going to consumed by those 2
So where are you fitting
Marner? Which contracts were you getting rid of to get the
Keep repeating THAT AND
Analyzing it until reality sinks in
Oh, and a comical side
note. Look at all of the guaranteed contracts. Lets say
Josh HoSang plays “lights out” in camp – who is he going to
Trotz and the coaching
staff REALLY have their work cut out for them this season.
For those wondering
“where is Lou” – take a look at the current roster and ask yourself –
we are paying HOW MUCH for this lineup ? And Chiarelli is LONG
GONE. Which sucker .. er .. GM is going to take any of the players on the
islanders roster you would want to get rid of ?
So set your expectations accordingly for this season. I have the
feeling it’s going to be a long one.