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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Assessing the Season: 2009-10

So, the curtain has fallen on another Islanders season. Last night ended with a 6-5 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Naturally, by this point I would be weeping into my jersey about how unfocused, disorganized and bad they were, but I'm abandoning all of that in favor of hope for the coming year, as I've said before. Hey, they did lose a few games and badly, but any growing team is like that. Besides, the way some of our young players are developing I'd be willing to bet on some serious improvement next season.

With that said, let's get into some grading for the year. I've never really done this before, and something tells me that if I were an actual teacher I would be incredibly fair. But you be the judge. We'll start with the forwards.

Josh Bailey: He started off the season a little slow, but as it wore on, he started getting more confident and finished the year with 16 goals and 35 points. Not bad. His defensive play is also very good, and I think if he continues on this path he could score 20 a year. Unfortunately, he'll miss the AHL playoffs with a facial laceration; best wishes for a quick recovery. Grade: A-.

Sean Bergenheim: I've been rooting for this guy since he came back to us from playing in Finland, but he just hasn't improved much. He's got tons of heart, but his feet move faster than his hands and he holds onto the puck too long- not to mention the penalties he manages to commit. Overall, 10 goals and 13 assists on the year isn't too bad for a fourth-liner, but I was hoping for more from him. Grade: C.

Blake Comeau: This year, I believe, has been his best to date. Last year he scored 7 goals; this year, he's scored 10 more and the same number of assists (18) to finish alongside Bails with 35 points. He's developing into a great two-way forward and very good on the PK. Overall, great strides made by #57. Grade: A-.

Trent Hunter: Two years ago, he received a five-year contract extension worth $10 million. Since then he has scored a combined 59 points. This season, only 28 (11 goals, 17 assists). I don't know about the Isles' front office, but I certainly don't think that kind of production is worth $2M a year. Not only that, but I don't think the leadership they expected of him has been present. He worked well with Frans Nielsen early on, but on his own, not a great impact. Consider that Brendan Witt exhibited a similar kind of presence on the ice (with better leadership) and was waived, and you'll see what I mean. Grade: C.

Tim Jackman: He was injured for much of the year, came back and got injured again in a fight, and ended up wearing a face mask for the rest of the season which inhibited his game a lot (seeing that he's more of a fighter than a goalscorer). That said, he does his job when healthy and is completely unafraid to do so- oh yeah, and he can score a couple of goals every now and then. Grade: B-.

Matt Moulson: What a surprise this guy has been for the Islanders. Drafted by the Penguins, ends up with the Kings and then signs with us- and scores 30 goals by season's end. He finished with 48 points total and having played all 82 games as well, which is a plus! (Durability, in case you've forgotten, has been an issue with the Isles in past years.) He's a hard worker, gets to the front of the net, and has great chemistry with John Tavares as well as Nielsen and Hunter. Awesome find by Garth Snow and Co., and I hope we lock him up long-term because he is a great asset to our offense! Grade: A+.

Frans Nielsen: Definitely could score more in regulation (12 goals, 38 points), but he's a great playmaker and seems to score goals at great times. Plus, his shootout prowess is greatly appreciated, as he's gotten the second point for his team quite a few times. Gotta love the backhand deke! Grade: B.

Kyle Okposo: He was snakebitten early in the season and that scoring drought may have cost him a spot on the U.S. Olympic Roster, but he came ever so close to 20 goals anyway (19) and tallied 52 points total, a great improvement over last year's 39 points. He finished with a -22, which is not impressive, but even so he works his tail off every night, is good on both ends of the ice, and above all, his great attitude and maturity while just a few days shy of age 22 definitely make him a viable candidate for captain in another year. (P.S. He also played 80 games this year, another improvement.) Grade: A.

Richard Park: I love this guy's work ethic and determination and he is a great penalty killer as well, but in other areas (particularly offense, where we can use everyone's help) he is lacking. He's scored some beautiful goals in the past; however, he doesn't do it often enough to be a real kind of impact player. In fact, he dropped off from last year (from 14 goals to 9). A good faceoff man, but has to pick his spots better while shooting. Grade: C+.

Rob Schremp: They call him Bob the Builder, and for good reason- he's got plenty of tools in his shootout arsenal. Okay, so you've heard that one before, but I couldn't resist. In regulation 7 goals, 25 points total may not sound very impressive in 44 games, but on the ice he does have plenty of confidence and, when in the lineup for a prolonged period of time, he can grow to be a great offensive threat. He also gave Isles fans one of the most exciting goals of the year against the Avalanche, let's not forget. :) Grade: B.

Jon Sim: It's a thankless role he plays, that of the agitator, but aside from a few penalties he takes himself, not to mention the beating he undergoes on a nightly basis, he gets the job done most of the time. He's also scored 13 goals this season to boot. Grade: B-.

Jeff Tambellini: This guy is definitely one of the two enigmas on the team (the other is on the blueline). On the one hand, perhaps he hasn't really been given a fair shake this season- inconsistent playing time, preference over call-ups, etc.- but on the other, he really has to make the most of what opportunities he has been given. He's had a hat trick game this year, but he has 14 points in 36 games this season. With plenty of players developing at a faster pace, he needs to prove he can be consistent. Grade: C.

John Tavares: The #1 draft pick for 2009 went through a hell of a dry spell mid-season, but he made up for it at the end and tallied 24 goals and 54 points for the year. He's shooting more from all areas now and I think he will only get better, as all players do. An excellent start overall to his playing career, and let's hope the sophomore slump doesn't hit him too badly! Grade: A.

Doug Weight: Captain? Yes. Injured for a ton of games? Yes. Though he adds life to the power play, however, you really can't get past the fact that he scored only one goal this year- yes, one. 17 points total. It's hardly his fault, but it's just a shame how the season's gone for him after having a bit of a "renaissance year" on the Island last year. I don't expect him to play in 2010-11. Grade: C-.

Now on to the defensemen! Alphabetically:

Bruno Gervais: If you guessed that this guy's the other enigma for the Isles, you're correct. He tied last year's goal total, and he's had a couple of games in which he's solid, but so many more games stand out in my mind where he just looks lost- screening and crowding his own goalie, having the puck deflect off of him, point-blank losing the puck to an opposing player, etc. He needs a ton of work in order to stay in this lineup, especially with the development of other players and if we draft a defenseman who could be NHL-ready. Grade: D.

Jack Hillen: This D has developed very quickly into a reliable offensive defenseman, though he could score a few more goals to become legit. Still, he's done very well and will be a great piece of the blueline corps soon enough. His size is a bit of a downside as well, but he's got a good hip check and can use his speed to a good advantage. Grade: B+.

Andrew MacDonald: What's impressive about Andy Mac is that he managed this season to make a call-up in an emergency turn into a prolonged stay in the NHL. Gotta love that. He's a bit more of a quiet D, but he'll develop into a solid blueliner soon enough. I wish the Isles' website had his stats up, but I'll be content with saying that he's a good young D. Grade: B.

Radek Martinek: Too few games played to judge fairly. INC.

Freddy Meyer: Andy Sutton Jr. Only 5'10", but he's built like a barrel and sends much bigger guys flying with his hits. He also chips in on O every so often, which helps, and he's a smart player who doesn't take an awful lot of penalties either. Good work by him. Grade: A-.

Mark Streit: Last year, Streiter made the All-Star game and led the team with 56 points. This year he started off a bit slow, but finished off impressively, if with five fewer goals. Still, 49 points isn't too shabby, and his huge shot still contributes to the PP. I would hope he takes a well-deserved rest this offseason, though- from last NHL season to the IIHF Championships, to training camp and this season, to the Olympics and back to the NHL to play almost 30 minutes a night can take a toll on even the best players. P.S. His hits have improved too, and if I'm not mistaken he's one of two guys who've played all 82 games this year. Grade: B+.

Last but not least, the goalies:

Martin Biron: He started off shaky, got more stable after Rick DiPietro ended up bowing out, and unfortunately had a couple of flat games to end the year. But I think he's won enough starts to potentially cement another year in an Isles uni- that is, unless someone else on the FA market proves to be more promising. Also, gotta love his positive attitude throughout the year, knowing it was entirely possible he wouldn't last beyond the trade deadline on the Island. Grade: B.

Rick DiPietro: Too few games to judge fairly. INC.

Dwayne Roloson: When Ricky was brought into the mix, he did stumble a bit, and there's no real saying if he ever recovered from that; however, up until the Olympic break he did keep the Isles in a great place for a while. He's an athletic goalie, and I think he can do the same thing for us next year barring a three-goalie situation. Grade: A-.

Coaching: Well, it's touch and go, of course. Scott Gordon and Co. are still getting into the NHL groove, and they have a young team on their hands. But despite some errors, especially regarding special teams (needs a TON of work there), the Isles finished this year 18 points and four places higher than last year, and that has to be commended. Regarding certain individual players, perhaps more could have been done (ie. Gervais, Tamby), but overall it's coming along. Grade: B-.

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