Islanders Injuries Open Up Opportunities

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Islanders Insight
Islanders Insight - Credentialed blog covering the New York Islanders

Strome-Bailey

 

When one falls, another must rise.

The New York Islanders open up the 2014-15 campaign with a revamped roster, plenty of optimism (both from within and from their reinvigorated fanbase), and of course, with injuries. A good number of teams in the NHL are suffering from preseason bumps and bruises, the Islanders certainly haven’t avoided the injury bug. They’ll need players to step up and play larger roles than initially anticipated in the wake of several players starting the season on Injured Reserve.

The recent acquisitions of defensemen Johnny Boychuk (from the Boston Bruins) and Nick Leddy (from the Chicago Blackhawks) take the sting out of losing Lubomir Visnovsky (back spasms) and Calvin de Haan (upper body injury). When Visnovsky and de Haan are finally ready to returnand some reports have them only missing the first week of gamesthe defense will finally be at full strength.

At forward, Newsday’s Arthur Staple confirmed reports yesterday that Michael Grabner underwent successful sports hernia surgery and would miss four-to-six weeks of the season. That opens the door for Ryan Strome and Josh Bailey to make good opening impressions and solidify their roster spots. Strome had a immediate impact last season upon arriving from the AHL, posting 7-11-18 in 37 games and helping the team to a 21-11-5 record when he was in the lineup.

But, by his admission, he started slowly this training camp and needed a talk from the coaching staff. As camp continued, Strome was noticeably better with more jump in practices and improved performances in preseason contests. But he will have to produce to stay, being one of only two Islanders (Anders Lee) to not need waivers in order to be demoted to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Strome will begin this season on the second line, playing alongside Brock Nelson and new addition Mikhail Grabovski. It could prove to be a interesting trio, with Nelson’s overall prowess combined with the speed and skill of his two wingers. The Islanders prefer Nelson’s size, strength, and hockey sense at the center position, as Capuano has noted many times throughout the summer.

Bailey is an entirely different story. Now entering his seventh season with New York, he has become the perennial whipping boy of the franchise, producing only 66 goals and 177 points in 406 career games. The talent is oozing from Bailey and you can see it from time to time, although those stretches are inconsistent at best. He can handle the puck, has an above average shot when he decides to take it (566 career SOG), and is defensively responsible, as evidenced in his advanced stats.

But when his confidence dipsand it has plummeted in recent yearsBailey seems to be a loner on the ice, skating around aimlessly at times with no direction and no purpose other than to be a fifth Isles body every third or fourth shift.

With a contract that carries a $3.3 million cap hit each year for the next four, it will be almost impossible for general manager Garth Snow to move him for the kind of return that the organization thinks befits the former first-round pick. If Bailey can’t figure it out this year with all of the opportunities he’s been given, he could very well find himself wearing another team’s jersey.

With Lee waiting in the wings and chomping at the bit to see regular NHL action, Bailey is just about out of opportunities.

 

Islanders Injuries Open Up Opportunities
Andy Graziano