In preseason this year, the Islanders picked up three defenders off of the waiver wire. Those guys were Brian Strait, Thomas Hickey and Joe Finley. Strait's out for the year, but I'd like to talk to you today about the other two guys -- Hickey and Finley -- who GM Garth Snow took a chance on for this season. Both of these guys have seen a good amount of action this year; Finley has played 16 games and Hickey 23. But is either one a part of the Islander future? Well, neither guy has shown much scoring ability -- Hickey has three points, Finley one -- so if either of these guys is to be a part of the Islanders going forward, it's going to have to be because of the things they do as a defender.
It's more difficult to measure defense than offense for obvious reasons in hockey. There's no defensive equivalent to goals and assists and the only conventional statistic we have to measure defense is +/-. If you were to simply use +/- to look at Hickey and Finley, you would see Hickey at +4 and Finley at -5 and assume that Hickey was a better defender.