Following their 2013 playoff run, the Islanders had one of their least impressive offseasons they have had in quite some time. Believing that they had the talent already on the roster, general manager Garth Snow signed Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin as the Islanders "major" free agency moves. As everyone knows, that did not work and Regin and Bouchard were shipped off to the Chicago Blackhawks in early February.
It would seem Snow learned from that experience and used the 2014 offseason to fill some holes that were obvious through the prior campaign. But were the moves enough to make the Islanders a playoff team in 2014? Some in the national hockey media say yes.
On Wednesday, Puck Daddy's Ryan Lambert listed the Isles as the number one team that has most improved this offseason. In his column he wrote:
It's hard not to love what the Islanders did this offseason.At the end Lambert wrote, "It would be shocking if this team didn't make the playoffs. Can you imagine saying that about the Islanders four months ago?"
They traded for the rights to Jaroslav Halak then, in a twist on an old Islanders trope, actually signed him. Reasons this is a win: Halak is pretty good and the Isles' previous goaltending situation was among the worst in the league. Then they added Chad Johnson, who seems like he could be a pretty decent backup.
That immediately made the team as much as 12 or 14 standings points better, because Evgeni Nabokov should not be an NHL goaltender in 2013, let alone going forward. If this was the only improvement the team made, that would be a great one, and would probably land them at top-3 on this list.
But Garth Snow wasn't going to rest on his laurels. He also went out and added both Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, both advanced stats darlings who also happen to be able to put up pretty good points totals when used correctly (Randy Carlyle used neither correctly).
In July, Bleacher Report's Dave Lozo wrote an article praising the Islanders offseason acquisitions, which went a little further in depth looking at what could go wrong with the new signings and how the Islanders can overcome where they finished in the standings last year. Lozo also said that Snow had assembled a playoff-caliber team.
The Islanders offseason has seen a lot of positive review from inside Islanders country and outside. The moves made by Snow show a real effort to put a playoff-caliber team on the ice in the final season at Nassau Coliseum. If Grabovski and Kulemin can reignite the spark they had in Toronto together then the Islanders could have one of the best top 6 in the Metropolitan Division. And the duo of Halak and Johnson is a major upgrade from Evgeni Nabokov/Kevin Poulin/Anders Nilsson.
That is not to knock the work of Nabokov, who was a big reason why the Islander made the postseason in 2013, but his 2013-14 season was not what the Islanders needed. The injuries did not help him either.
With all the positives that the Islanders have done this offseason, what would really solidify them as a threat in the Metro -- and the east for that matter -- would be the addition of a top 4 defenseman. The Islanders defense struggled last season and a top 4 defenseman would go a long way to shore up some of the issues from last year. Snow did try to do that by going after Dan Boyle, who rejected the Islanders' offer and eventually signed with the Rangers.
For now, it seems that Snow is content in heading into training camp in September with the defenseman they have. And that's ok, because the Islanders have surly shown that they plan to compete in 2014-15 thanks to their offseason moves.
Do you agree? Let us know in the comments section if the Islanders have had a good offseason or not.