The Isles have now set their 23 man roster. The list excludes Josh Bailey and Jesse Joensuu (injuries) and Lubomir Visnovskly (suspension). It’s hard to imagine what the team would have looked like had there not been those 4 (Aucoin, Finley, Hickey, Strait) waiver wire pickups and the Radek Martinek signing. That’s 5 very recent additions to the 23-man roster. The Islanders must be preparing for the shortened season and more intense game schedule.
As far as the waiver wire pickups, none really seem to be game changers. None have been given much of a change at the NHL level either though. Aucoin stands out somewhat as he’s had an impressive AHL career, but never seemed to capture lightning in a bottle at the big show. He could be the NHL’s version of the quadruple “A” baseball player. The one that tears up the minors only to never live up to expectations in the MLB. The first guy that comes to mind is ex-Islander Jeff Tambellini. Watching him struggle through the season was tough. The pickup isn’t a bad gamble, but if the Aucoin audition fails, I’d dump him for El Nino after 10 – 15 games.
The Isles added 4 defenseman to the fold, with ex-Isle Radek Martinek heading the pack. I don’t know much about the other defenseman (Finley – size, Hickey – offensive?, Strait – unremarkable yet steady). I remember the days of Tomas Pock guarding the irons, as well as the well-aged Mike Mottau, Mark Eaton, and so on… I’d prefer to get established NHL defenseman to play for the team, but after having been burned by players that rightfully should have been collecting pensions in the past, I don’t feel right snarking about giving young guys a chance and giving even younger guys more time to mature in the AHL. And if the injury bug hits the team, and you know it will, having some depth isn’t the worst thing in the world.
The season opener is tomorrow, and I’m loaded with unwarranted optimism as usual. The team is undefeated, and I believe. Playoffs or bust. And I hope, secretly, that at least the team is entertaining and willing to play hard for the fans. And by playing hard, I mean taking the body and standing up for each other. Fighting for the fans.
Here are your 2013 opening day New York Islanders: