More Thoughts on the Isles Forwards

TheDriveForFive's picture

Last season, the Islanders offense relied heavily upon chance. The chance that Bill Guerin and Miroslav Satan still had gas left in their tanks. The chance that Mike Comrie and Ruslan Fedotenko could develop into near point a game players with first line ice time. The chance that Josef Vasicek and Jon Sim could thrive in expanded roles and lastly, the chance that Sean Bergenheim and Trent Hunter could be consistent offensively all season long.

Considering the fact that the Isles didn’t make the playoffs last season, it’s safe to say most of those players missed great opportunities to prove themselves. However, Guerin proved last season that he can still be an offensive threat, but it’s obvious he needs a real playmaker by his side to get back to being a 30-goal scorer. With Doug Weight’s mediocre season last year behind him, the former Olympian may provide a spark in both of their games that helps the Islanders stay in the mix a little bit longer than expected. Nonetheless, there are holes all over this team’s forward lines that beg to be addressed. Better yet, they beg for someone with some grit, character and heart to step up and cement their spot on this team. Otherwise, it’s going to be a very long season at the Coliseum.

Chances are that Kyle Okposo, Jeff Tambellini, Blake Comeau and Sim will find themselves on different lines this season and these are the players that will have to be the spark plugs. While I’ve already said in previous posts what I think the youngsters are capable of, Sim is a guy that has scored 17 goals with no ice-time in Atlanta a few years ago and can really provide the depth needed to win hockey games. Because of that and guys like Hunter and Mike Sillinger, who he will most likely be paired with, I don’t think a 20-goal season is out of the question for him. Add in his tenacity and heart to a line with already plenty of moxie and I think it’s easily the Islanders most multi-faceted trio if given a chance to gel.

With the four aforementioned players can step up and add something different to the table, I see no reason why guys like Hunter, Richard Park and Bergenheim, noted for their grit and offensive upside as well, can’t follow suit and add respectable numbers themselves. Again, I’ve already discussed what I think Hunter is capable of and I think if Bergenheim finishes more, he can be a 20-goal scorer in this league as well. Park, I think is a lock for a dozen goals and some damn good defensive play.

Then it comes down to how bad a guy like Mike Comrie wants to win. Much like Isles goaltender Rick DiPietro, he has two sides to his game, a focused one where he has a deadly accurate shot and plays decent enough defense in his own zone to not be a liability and another side that knows only a mediocre toe-drag and loves to commit neutral zone turnovers. If the Isles have any chance at success this season, Comrie has to be on his game on both ends of the ice.

In the end though, it’s all about people stepping up and making themselves viable options. The days of having bona fide superstars on this team may be over for the time being, but there is no reason why this team can’t roll four lines that can play quality hockey on both sides of the ice. If they do eventually do that, I think they’ll be a lot of fun to watch and will surprise a bunch of people down the stretch.