Isles Claim Thompson, What does the Future Hold This Season?

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The Islanders claimed center Nate Thompson from the Providence Bruins on Wednesday, but what does it mean for them? Well, if you ask me, it may tighten up the job security of a few choice Islanders, mainly Andy Hilbert. I know what many of you guys are thinking: why are you always picking on poor Mr. Hilbert? The answer is a simple one my friends. As of right now, after two full seasons in the NHL, Hilbert has yet to prove himself on the Islanders. Simply put, he’s a fringe player, too good for the AHL and not good enough to be a top six forward in the NHL. That, to me, makes him expendable and someone used more as a depth player. That is unless, he begins to finish on offense.

Thompson on the other hand, is a guy worth looking at, especially with injuries to Mike Sillinger. He’s put up some decent numbers in the AHL and was one of Scott Gordon’s players, making him already comfortable with his up-tempo system. If the chips fall in the right places, Thompson could be an interesting guy to watch and at 24 years of age, he has at least this season and next before the ceiling on his development begins to truly close. You can’t say the same thing about Hilbert though; he already has over 200 games of NHL experience under his belt and as I’ve said before, is someone that the Islanders know what is capable of.

As far as what this does for the Islanders this season, I think it’s fair to say that Thompson’s appearance doesn’t change the outlook on the season. Simply put, Jeff Tambellini and Kyle Okposo have to develop in both ends of the ice this season, and Bill Guerin and Doug Weight need to prove they still have some gas in their tanks. Brendan Witt will be asked to bounce back from injuries and even the steady Radek Martinek will have to try to show people he’s more than just a solid defensive defenseman.

Above all else, Rick DiPietro will have to laugh at the words of the hockey pundits around the NHL and show them he can be a top five goaltender in this league and in spite of a less than mediocre offense, can win hockey games.

Of all the team’s in the NHL, the Devils have been a team the Isles have played well against over the past few seasons and a team that will be a good test as to what to expect from this ragged group of misfits this year.

Let the times, good or bad, roll.

Photo by the NHL.