Saturday, May 30, 2009

2009 Stanley Cup Final Prediction

While it is an exciting time to be an Islander because of the tremendous hustle and bustle regarding the first overall pick, you can bet your ass no one is having more fun than Penguin and Red Wing fans. For the second year in a row, the Penguins and Red Wings will be facing off in the Stanley Cup Final, and you can bet that both teams will be even more prepared for each other this time around. With the Penguins having a fairly different look this year, and the Red Wings maintaining the core and adding all-star Marian Hossa to the mix (obviously from Pittsburgh), it will definitely be a great series.

Let’s Break it Down...


Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Chris Osgood. The young stud with the lightning quick glove and legs who hasn’t won it yet vs. the aging veteran, who is still as consistent as they come in the playoffs, and has won it all several times. Who would you rather have? Although Fleury has done extremely well in these playoffs, much like last year’s, it is hard to bet against Chris Osgood in the playoffs. If this were the regular season, I’d put my money on Fleury one hundred times over, however, I still think the master (Osgood) will be able to outplay his apprentice (Fleury) in a series of the masters (Red Wings) against the apprentices (Penguins). Advantage: Red Wings


This might be the most simple of the three categories to rank. With a defense featuring Niklas Lidstrom (the best defenseman in the game), as well as Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, and Brad Stuart, how can you even question their uncanny ability to dominate an opponents offense in their own defensive end, and then dominate an opponents defense on the scoresheet as well? On Pittsburgh’s side, they are going to be relying heavily on Sergei Gonchar and Phillipe Boucher to hold down the reins, as Hal Gill is simply too slow-footed to keep up with the likes of Datsyuk, Hossa, Zetterberg, and Franzen. While Long Island native, Rob Scuderi, has excelled in the playoffs this year, and Brooks Orpik has been his hard-hitting, crease-clearing self, it is still hard to measure them up against the Red Wings defense overall. When it comes to defense, I always love the experience factor Detroit brings, and how can you go against the best defender to play in the NHL for the past decade? Advantage: Red Wings



Here is where my job gets a little more difficult. With a team that features Hossa, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, and Hudler as five of their top forwards, how can you bet against them, right? However, with the best all-around player in the game in Evgeni Malkin, a phenomenal playoff performer in Sidney Crosby, as well as veteran leadership coming from Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz (who has won it all with Anaheim), it is hard to bet against Pittsburgh’s offense. While it is relatively even on the offensive side, I still think that Pittsburgh might have a slight edge considering Malkin has been on fire lately, and Crosby has been on fire throughout the playoffs. Couple in a healthy Guerin who is a great leader and the Penguins may find their advantage in the offensive category, even only if by a slight margin. Just like I said it's hard to bet against the best defenseman in the game, it is just as hard to bet against two out of the top three forwards in the game! Advantage: Penguins 

Final Prediction:

Although I sit here preaching that the Islanders should select John Tavares because offense is exciting and takes you places, defense,  in this situation, will win a championship. With both teams having such high-powered offenses and great goaltending, it will come down to who can keep the puck out of the net the most through solid defensive play. Outlet passes are going to be crucial, as each of these teams are so great at capitalizing on mistakes, and these mistakes are what could change the entire course of the game, if not the series. Considering this to be the case, I am going to have to place my bet on Detroit to win it all for a second year in a row. It will be a great series, probably even better than last year’s considering the maturation and development of Pittsburgh, but I still think the experience on Detroit’s side will lead them to glory. Can the Red Wings keep this up that much longer? At least for this year, I say yes!



*If I am wrong, please feel free to banter me, rip me apart, and make fun of me for as long as you'd like. Also, feel free to leave your predictions in the comments area, or shoot me an e-mail at IslesNet@GMail.Com . Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 29, 2009

IslesNet Now on Twitter! Plus a Quick Update

I am not overly familiar with Twitter, however, I have noticed that every blogger on Earth has begun to use it, and I felt it was a good idea to join as well. If you are interested in keeping up with what I am blogging, or what hockey blog or hockey book I am reading, feel free to "follow" me on Twitter.

Also, I have created an email address: IslesNet@GMail.Com . If you have any questions regarding my blogs, want to ask a question about anything, or if you are interested in writing up a blog that I will post on IslesNet, feel free to shoot me an email, as it will be the best place to reach me. I am definitely interested in getting a few guest writers to write up articles from their own perspective. 

Make sure to check below, as I have posted my final opinion on the Tavares and Hedman debate. Also, be sure to check back tomorrow morning, as I will have my Stanley Cup Prediction posted. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tavares vs. Hedman: My Final Opinion

As is pretty evident from the many comments I have left throughout the blogosphere, it is obvious that I am a big supporter of the Islanders drafting John Tavares with the first overall pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.  In this blog I will not bash on Hedman at all, as I feel he is going to be a phenomenal defenseman in the NHL, rather, I will explain several reasons why I feel Tavares will be the best choice.

First, besides the currently infamous Red-Line Report, it has become evident that Tavares is ranked the first overall pick by nearly 80% of the scouting services, and he is in the top two in every single scouting report besides that of Red-Line. Call it a ploy to attract more readers, call it his true belief, call it whatever you want…I don’t buy into it for a New York minute. Tavares has earned his spot as the number one overall pick from the second he became the youngest kid drafted into the OHL, and then backed that feat up with four tremendous seasons in the OHL, breaking the all-time goal scoring record with 215 goals, and proving himself on the international stage with Team Canada. He has been an all-star at every stage of his career. Why should the Islanders do the unconventional thing and go against what nearly all well-respected scouts are saying?

Secondly, and a shift away from physical talent, the name Tavares has status. I don’t care if you support Hedman or Tavares, you know damn well that if the Islanders select John Tavares, June 27th is going to be the busiest day in a long time for Islanders season ticket holders, as well as for all jersey customizers at Islanders team stores, NHL.Com, and wherever else you may order a jersey from. The Islanders desperately need that star-studded name to sell, they need that star player to bring in new fans, they need that star player to bring back old fans, and they need that star-studded player to pack out the building in hopes that he may do something magical. It is pretty safe to say that the last time the Islanders had even a glimpse of a pure goal scorer, it was the Palffy years, and Tavares might be able to even blow him out of the water.

Lastly, it is obvious that the Islanders are in desperate need for many different things: defense, offense, and quite possibly even goaltending in the long run. While I do believe a great defense is important, do you truly believe that the Penguins would make it as far as they have without Malkin and Crosby, or the Red Wings making it as far as they have without Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Franzen? I didn’t think so. Offense not only sells out the building, but it also helps to bring about success. As good as a defense may be, you can’t win an NHL game in a tie, and it is time for the Islanders to realize that they need that offensive superstar.

There are plenty of reasons for the Islanders to take Tavares, and I’m sure people will go as far to say he could help pass the Lighthouse, he will be the best scorer in the league, he is going to do this, he is going to do that, and so on and so forth. Before I ever get to those items, I felt that these three were of utmost importance, and I truly feel that the Islanders management needs to recognize the need for that offensive weapon. Here is our chance.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NHL Breaking News

Just a quick announcement: according to numerous sources, including media outlets such as TSN and ESPN, Pat Quinn will be joining the Edmonton Oilers organization as the head coach, while former Rangers head coach, Tom Renney, will be joining Edmonton as an associate head coach. This is a great move for the Oilers, and I will be providing a short opinion hopefully by as early as tomorrow once it is fully confirmed.

*I apologize for not getting up my take on the Tavares / Hedman sweepstakes yet, as I have been very busy. It should be up no later than 11:00AM tomorrow, and I hope that you continue voting on the right hand side of the page. It has become pretty evident that Tavares is truly the number one choice among fans! Have a great day!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Player Profile: Victor Hedman

Hopefully you were able to read the first player profile posted yesterday on John Tavares. My goal is to provide unbiased information on both these players, so that the readers can make up their minds on which they want. Coming up after that, I will provide my insight as to who I feel would be the appropriate first overall pick for the New York Islanders. So here is today’s profile for giant Swede himself.

Victor Erik Olof Hedman was born on December 18th, 1990 in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. His parents, both of whom have done fairly well for themselves in Sweden, have always encouraged him to play hockey, just like they did with his brother, Oscar. While his heritage is not as rare as Tavares (Tavares is Portuguese, Hedman is Swedish), his town has churned up some of the top hockey players in the NHL right now, including Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Peter Forsberg. Oscar Hedman, Victor’s older brother, currently plays for Frolunda HC of the Elitserien (top league in Sweden).

Hedman has always been much bigger than most of those around him. Coming in at a towering 6 feet, 6 inches tall, and weighing in at 227 lbs, the 18 year old Hedman is definitely going to be one of the bigger boys anywhere he goes. When analyzing his games, scouts believe there are few flaws. Scouts praise his vision of the game, as they feel that he is always in solid positioning, and he is always thinking about the next move an opponent will make. While he is a smart player, he also has very soft hands for a defenseman. He is able to stickhandle extremely well, and he is very strong on the puck as well. While all of these are extremely valuable to his game, nothing is more impressive about Hedman than his speed. For a player who is six and a half feet tall, many would expect him to be slow-footed and lack acceleration. This is not the story whatsoever with Hedman. He can skate with the best of them, and his acceleration is truly impressive for a player of that size. Furthermore, his footwork and side-to-side movement is equally impressive. Combine all of this and you have one impressive defensive product.

While he is obviously a talented and extremely athletic young player, there are still some flaws that scouts have kept their eyes on. Like Tavares, none of these flaws are irreparable, as they can all be corrected or worked on with NHL coaches. His first flaw, and one that is often spoken of, is his lack of physicality. With such a big frame, many would expect Hedman to throw around the body more and be more physical. While I agree that he should be dishing out some hits here and there, it has become evident from watching him play that he falls out of position when he tries to lay the body on a guy, and he doesn’t necessarily need to use his body as much in the Swedish Elite League. In the NHL, where the game is much more physical than anywhere else in the world, he is going to have to adapt and utilize his body much more. His second flaw, and one that has just recently popped up according to sources, is his inability to take blame for a loss. According to several reports, after Sweden’s devastating loss to Canada in the World Junior Championships, Hedman was not ready to take the blame for the loss, and he would simply pass it over to other teammates. A true leader is ready and willing to take the blame for any loss, and Hedman is going to need to step up to that podium if he wants to be a truly effective player in the long run.

Now that both his pros and cons have been analyzed, it would be appropriate to take a look at his career statistics. This is not a career comparison to John Tavares, as we should not expect any numbers in the same region as an offensive juggernaut like Tavares. What I will include for Hedman is his plus/minus rating, as I feel this is a very valuable statistic in analyzing a defenseman at times. Key word: at times!

2005-2006 MODO Juniors (10GP, 0G, 1A, 1 Pt, +5)

2006-2007 MODO Juniors (34GP, 13G, 12A, 25 Pts, +17)

2007-2008 MODO (39GP, 2G, 2A, 4 Pts, +1)

2008-2009 MODO (43GP, 7G, 14A, 21Pts, +22)


2008 WJC – Sweden (0G, 1A, 1 Pt, +5)

2009 WJC – Sweden (0G, 2A, 2Pt, +4)

*In 2008, Hedman was included in the World Junior All-Star team.

While statistics for a defenseman tell you only so much, it is good to know that this year Hedman played on the top-pairing for MODO and he was extremely successful. He clocked a tremendous number of minutes, and he was used in all situations (5 on 5, power play, and penalty kill). He is truly effective in all three zones, and his maturity level has increased tremendously this year. What must be noted is that the Elitserien is considered one of the top leagues in Europe, as well as one of the top leagues in the world. This year, and since he was 16 years old, Hedman has been playing with grown men and players much older than he is. According to many reports, Hedman is very mature for his age, and he is one of the few defensemen who might be NHL ready in his first year after the draft.


Justin’s Opinion:

Much like the first installment of this player profile series, I will be refraining from offering any opinion on this topic until my next blog, which will be an opinion piece on who I feel the Islanders should draft with their first overall pick. This blog should be posted by Sunday night, and I would love to see everyone let me know who they feel is more appropriate for the Islanders.

As always, questions and comments are greatly appreciated. You can leave any of these in the comments section, which is in the link right below, or you can send me an E-Mail at IslesNet@Gmail.Com

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Player Profile: John Tavares

When I first sat down to write the next two articles, I was going to approach them with titles such as, “Why The Islanders Should Select John Tavares,” or “Why The Islanders Should Select Victor Hedman.” Instead, I have opted to lay out a player profile on these two fine, young players, in order for you to gain a better understanding of them, and for you to be able to make up your own opinion on who you’d rather Garth Snow and Company select first overall on June 26th. Today’s player profile will take a look at John Tavares of the London Knights.

John Tavares was born September 20th, 1990 in Mississauga, Ontario. His parents, Joe and Barbara Tavares, have always encouraged John to play hockey since he was a very young boy. John, like Mike Ribeiro of the Dallas Stars, is one of the few players in the National Hockey League from Portuguese descent. While his parents may have always encouraged him, it was John’s Uncle, also named John, who helped him to succeed in hockey. John’s uncle was a professional lacrosse player in Canada, and John learned many of his hockey talents from his uncle through the sport of Lacrosse. These talents have transcended themselves into his hockey game, and have provided him with quick hands and a quick mind.

John Tavares is not overwhelmingly large, sizing up at 6 feet tall, and nearly 200 pounds, however, he was always very strong on the puck, and he is able to make his average size seem bigger. Blessed with a quick, soft pair of hands, John has always excelled in stickhandling (attributed to lacrosse), and he has always been a step ahead of the rest in this department. According to many past coaches and scouts, however, his biggest asset is his knowledge of the game. Many analysts consider John to be one of the most intelligent players in this year’s draft, as he seems to always know where everyone is, always know where the open space is going to be, and he is always in position seconds before everyone else gets there. It is this sublime IQ that allows John to position himself perfect in front of the net for a rebound, or perfectly for a breakout. Another aspect of John’s game that helps to make him an offensive force is his wrist-shot and snap shot. Combining speed and accuracy, John is deadly from the circles and in, and he will usually make defenders pay for any turnovers in this area. Lastly, Tavares’ hand-eye coordination is second-to-none. For all of those who have not seen his sensational goal at the 2009 World Junior Championships, you must do so now. It was absolutely incredible evidence as to what the kid can do when the puck is in the air.

While he obviously is loaded with talent, there are some aspects of John’s game that force scouts to bring him back to reality. First, and often the most scrutinized aspect of his game is his skating. According to scouts, his acceleration is fair, but it will take some NHL level conditioning and focus in order to help him elevate it to the acceleration necessary to succeed at the NHL level. Secondly, John’s top speed is not considered lethal, but more-so average. This average speed, however, can also be worked upon with proper strength and conditioning regiments. Lastly, John has sometimes been considered a one-sided player. This, by definition, means that certain scouts feel John focuses only on offense, and he does not back-check properly. They believe that he simply goes hard to the net and scores, however, he feels his job ends there.

While we have know seen both his pros and his cons, let us take a look at John’s career statistics in the Ontario Hockey League and World Junior Championships. I find no need to include statistics from his other levels of hockey, as they do not tell us much about who he is now.

2005-2006 Oshawa Generals (45 G, 32A, 77 Pts, 72 PIM)

2006-2007 Oshawa Generals (72G, 62A, 134 Pts, 60PIM)

2007-2008 Oshawa Generals (40G, 78A, 118 Pts, 69PIM)

2008-2009 Generals/Knights (58G, 46A, 104 Pts, 54PIM)

2008 WJC – Canada (4G, 1A, 5 Pts, 2PIM)

2009 WJC – Canada (8G, 7A, 15 Pts, 0PIM)

 *In the 2009 World Junior Championships, John Tavares won three awards: World Junior First Team All-Star, World Junior Top Forward, and World Junior Most Valuable Player.

As is visible by his statistics, John had a great rookie year, and then had two phenomenal back-to-back seasons. The biggest question comes into play of why the drop-off going into his fourth full season in the OHL. The response of his coaches, and many scouts who have watched him, is that he has either been working on the defensive aspect of his game much more than he ever has, or he has simply become bored with the prospect of playing in the OHL. While the first excuse of his defensive practice makes sense, I tend to lean with the second aspect. John Tavares and his agent applied for Exceptional Player Status with the NHL in order to be a part of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Tavares and his agent both felt he was ready for the NHL, however, the NHL refused to change their stance, and he was not eligible for the 2008 Draft. While the NHL refused to change its bylaws for him, it was not his first time looking for Exceptional Player Status. In the 2005 OHL Entry Draft, John was still too young to be drafted, however, the OHL granted him this status, and he was the first player to ever be allowed to participate in the OHL while being underage.

As you can see, John Tavares is truly a very gifted player. Since his phenomenal, underage rookie campaign in 2005-2006, John has been in the spotlight and dubbed “the next great one” after Sidney Crosby. While living up to Crosby’s billing will be extremely tough, he has still had to deal with a tremendous amount of media attention, and he has done extremely well with it. John Tavares is now a household name in Canada and even in parts of the United States, and he definitely made this happen through his incredible display at the World Junior Championships in Ottawa this year. Any team would be extremely fortunate to have a player of this caliber on their team.

 Justin’s Opinion:

While I usually like to give an opinion, I will be refraining from offering my opinion on this topic until after I write my Player Profile on Victor Hedman. Hedman’s profile should be coming up either tomorrow morning or Saturday morning, and it will allow everyone to better understand both players that have been touted as the number 1 and number 2 picks overall for quite some time. The blog after that, most likely either Sunday or Monday, will be my thorough opinion on who I believe the Islanders should take with the first overall pick, and a long-winded explanation as to why.

 **As always, questions and comments are greatly appreciated. You can leave any of these in the comments section, which is in the link right below, or you can send me an E-Mail at IslesNet@Gmail.Com **

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NYI - 2009 NHL Entry Draft Layout

First off, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to come to Islanders Net. It has been a long time since this website was last up and running, as you can tell by the Jeff Tambellini article below this one.  I aim to publish two to three articles per week, and hopefully inspire the readers to make comments and suggestions on each one.  Now back to the hockey…

The 2009 NHL Entry Draft, in my personal opinion, will prove to be much more important for the Islanders future than the 2008 Draft. While the first overall pick is obviously tremendously important,  I base this opinion on the fact that the Islanders began something last year that we must continue this year, and each and every year after that. Just like the success that has entrenched itself in Detroit through the drafting process, the Islanders began the development pipeline last year by selecting talented players in each round, and each and every year proves more important than the last in selecting premium talent that will blossom, develop, and continue the winning tradition. This year, with 11 picks currently under the Islanders belt, Assistant General Manager Ryan Jankowski, as well as Garth Snow and the entire scouting staff are placed with the responsibility of selecting eleven players that can all hopefully develop into NHL caliber talent.

Here is the breakdown of the Islanders selections for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft:

1st Round:

*1st Overall Pick (NYI)

*26th Overall Pick (Traded from San Jose to Tampa Bay, Traded from Tampa Bay to Ottawa, Traded from Ottawa to the NYI)

2nd Round:

*31st Overall Pick (NYI)

*37th Overall Pick (Traded from Toronto to the NYI at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft)

*56th Overall Pick (Traded from Boston to the NYI)

3rd Round:

*62nd Overall Pick (NYI)

*88th, 89th, 90th, or 91st Pick (Traded from Pittsburgh to the NYI through the Guerin trade – Based on how well Pittsburgh does in the playoffs)

4th Round:

*92nd Overall Pick (NYI)

5th  Round:

*121st Overall Pick (NYI)

6th Round:

*151st Overall Pick (NYI)

7th Round:

*181st Overall Pick (NYI)

As you can see, the Islanders really do have their work cut out for them. Considering their last place finish in the league this past year, as well as the luck of winning the Lottery, the Islanders are fortunate enough to select first in each round. While the first overall pick is very important, the second pick we have in the first round (26th overall), as well as the first pick we have in the second round (31st overall), will prove to be defining picks for this franchise. With three picks in the top 31, and five picks in the top 56 of this year’s extremely deep draft, the Islanders pipeline could find itself flooding with talent if done correctly.

Justin’s Opinion:

For each of my new blogs that permits its use, I will be providing this opinion section at the bottom so that readers can agree or disagree with me. My goal is to get the reader to put his opinion in the comments section so that we can stir up some intelligent hockey conversation.

As for my opinion, I believe that the Islanders will be selecting less than eleven times at this year’s draft. While we may have eleven picks, I believe some packaging is in order. It would not surprise me at all, or anyone for that matter, if the Islanders packaged the 26th overall pick, along with two of their second round picks in order to obtain a pick somewhere in the 8th pick to 15th pick range. Who they pick with this pick, in my opinion, is dependent on who they pick with the first overall pick. While I want the Islanders to draft Tavares first overall and then select a power-forward with the pick we acquired, I believe that if Snow selects Tavares with the first overall pick, they will be looking to draft a solid defenseman with this pick.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if the Islanders draft the giant Swedish defenseman, Victor Hedman, I believe we may see some larger-scale wheeling and dealing by Snow, as the Islanders desperately need a first line center. What they would package, I am unsure, however, I believe that Snow truly acknowledges the need for that first-line franchise center. While Greg Logan of Newsday has provided his way method for the Islanders obtaining Matt Duchene and Victor Hedman, which I would love, I do not believe that a complicated three-way trade such as that one will come to fruition. My reason for this is simple: the Montreal Canadiens are willing to pay a devils’ ransom for the services of Lecavalier, while Logan’s trade proposal does not provide the Lightning with a large enough compensation for the services of Lecavalier.

Is there a way for the Islanders to select Victor Hedman, and then package together numerous picks, and maybe a young roster player (Bergenheim? Comeau?) in order to land the 3rd Overall Pick as well ? What do you think?

Up Next on Isles Net:

Considering the Islanders season is over until the much-anticipated night of June 26th, 2009, I will be keeping my blogs geared towards Islanders draft analysis and personal opinion. The blogs coming up in the next two weeks will provide readers with plenty to talk about, as they will analyze all aspects of the Islanders draft. Also, for those who like to read outside of the Islanders blogosphere, I will be making sure to incorporate a few write-ups about the highly entertaining Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As always, comments and questions are greatly appreciated. They can be submitted into the Comments section by clicking the link below this blog.