Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Brian Erni and I continue our annual season review, taking a look back at the 2016-17 Islanders and analyzing each player's performance in a down season that saw the team miss the playoffs by one point.
We will be offering two reviews per week that will take us right through to the beginning of training camp in September 2017. Of course, there are a couple of things to sort out prior, such as potential trades that could alter the look of this franchise going forward and oh, yeah, that pesky John Tavares extension.
Contract details via nhlnumbers.com and stats courtesy of hockeyreference.com.
1 - Thomas Greiss - Goaltender
6-1, 228 lbs
31 years old
Contract: $3.333m cap hit through 2019-20, unrestricted free agent
Season: 51 GP (49 starts), 26-18-5, 2.69 GAA, .913 S%, 3 shutouts, .612 QS%
Career: 181 GP (156 starts), 85-59-20, 2.51 GAA, .916 S%, 7 shutouts, .571 QS%
On July 1, 2015, Garth Snow signed Greiss to back up then undisputed starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Two years later, after a career season in his first as a full-timer and a mild regression in year two, Greiss was rewarded with a contract extension in January of this year that will keep him with the club for the next three seasons at a very manageable cap hit of $3.333 million dollars.
Greiss was phenomenal in 2015-16, posting a 2.36 goals against average and .925 save percentage in 41 games (38 starts) after making only 36 starts combined through his first six years with the Sharks. Coyotes and Penguins. When Halak went down with a serious groin injury, he led New York to a first-round playoff series win against the Panthers before being overwhelmed, along with his teammates, by the Lightning.
This past season was a different story, as even though Greiss faced the same average number of shots per start (24), the quality was increased, with many more coming from high-danger areas such as the low to mid slot. The dreadful early season pairing of Travis Hamonic and Nick Leddy combined to make this possible and the defense as a whole never really recovered.
Greiss' save percentage at even strength suffered as a result, falling from .934 to .920 even though his penalty kill percentage was fairly flat at .878 from .880 the previous season.
Not the most talkative in the post-game locker room, Greiss carries a quiet, calm confidence win or lose and players have taken notice, pointing that out at every turn when they speak of the netminder and the way they seem to play in front of him. How he pairs with the returning Halak this season will go a long way towards determining if the Islanders can return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
IPB Grade: B: Even though there was statistical regression, Greiss was as solid as you could expect a goaltender to be in front of a defense that, at points, struggled to the hills, looking like an AHL group on some nights. With Halak returning from exile, expect the two to once again be 1A and 1B and split starts as I believe everyone can agree that will give the team the best chance of returning to the postseason