Injures Beginning to Take Their Toll? Thoughts on the Youth Movement

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Once the Islanders got Radek Martinek and Brendan Witt back, I was expecting things to get progressively better. I was expecting a healthy Freddy Meyer, Mike Sillinger, Mike Comrie and Kyle Okposo back as well, helping on both ends of ice and just maybe, sneaking into a playoff spot. But just like last season, the dominoes are falling, as it seems like Martinek must have sneezed on Okposo or something, as according to Greg Logan’s Newsday Blog, the Islanders 2006 first round pick is going to be out for at least a month after aggravating his already-injured wrist.

Great, just great.

In all fairness, Okposo was starting to play well, especially alongside another first rounder in Josh Bailey, but he wasn’t playing like Mike Bossy. He wasn’t playing like Steve Thomas either. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t even in Wendel Clark’s league. Nevertheless, for a short while, it was pretty entertaining to see what the future could look like with those two on the ice together. At any rate, those euphoric desires will have to be quenched in other ways until he’s healthy again.

Luckily, Trent Hunter is easily having the best season of his career and is finally taking more high quality shots. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, even though he’s a good defensive forward and doesn’t have great skating ability, this guy is not a third liner. Anything but. He should be a 20 goal guy every season, regardless of who he plays with, especially with his stick handling ability and shot. On pace for 30 biscuits potted thus far, the next Islander captain [or maybe Witt] is proving that you can be a good player with an abundance of grit and hard work.

The same thing goes for Bill Guerin, Doug Weight, Andy Hilbert and Mark Streit, who are all proving that they can produce the way Islanders management believes they can. Once the majority of the youngsters do, I think this team is going to be a lot of fun to watch. Once Comrie and Okposo come back as well, I really feel that the Islanders can have four solid lines that can contribute on both sides of the ice. That may mean that a guy Jeff Tambellini would ride the pine in favor of someone who shows up every night and wants to play like Tim Jackman [or maybe Blake Comeau]. Some people may not like that, but in the end, those are the breaks baby.

You can only implement a true youth movement with players that are truly ready or close to. While Sean Bergenheim and Chris Campoli [and even Okposo and Frans Neilsen before they got injured] have shown flashes of brilliance, Tamby looks like he playing Dungeons and Dragons out there. No poise or drive. He either takes chances in both ends, trying to make the big play, or takes garbage shots that have no chance at going in, effectively rolling the dice with his chances of getting quality ice-time.

If he continues along these lines, he’ll not only lose ice time, he may lose his spot on the roster as well.