2019-2020 New York Islanders Retrospective- Why the Herd Mentality of #IslesKoolAid Fails

2019-2020 New York Islanders Retrospective- Why the Herd Mentality of #IslesKoolAid Fails

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.

Next trade?

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.

Not happening with Bailey on your roster

So let’s look at the video game lineup:

On offense:

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.

On Defense:

Pietrangelo Pulock – roughly $15m

Pelech Dobson – roughly $2.5m

Mayfield Graves- roughly $3.5m

Hickey $2.5m

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.

At goal:

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.

On defense?

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.

And goal?

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.

2019-2020 New York Islanders Prospective- What’s Next?

2019-2020 New York Islanders Prospective- What’s Next?

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.

100% Baileys fault

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?

1)Barzal

2) Beauvilier

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.

A Fans View of Josh Bailey

A Fans View of Josh Bailey

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?   

Coattails. As always.

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.  

The 2019-2020 New York Islanders Takeaways

The 2019-2020 New York Islanders Takeaways

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.

“Raise your hand if you suck!”

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.