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Islanders hope youngsters are ready for lineup

Saturday, 08.25.2012 / 3:00 AM / 30 in 30

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Islanders hope youngsters are ready for lineup
After another non-playoff season, the New York Islanders need some of their young talent to step up and provide more support for budding superstar John Tavares.

Two seasons ago the New York Islanders scored plenty of goals but their goaltending was a mess. Last season, some of the young offensive talents regressed and while Evgeni Nabokov stabilized the goaltending, the defense in front of him remained lacking and the Islanders didn't make much progress reducing their goals allowed.

2012-13 New York Islanders



Under-valued: Mark Streit – If you can handle his rough plus/minus (minus-27 last year), you’ll like what you get from Streit. In three seasons with Isles, he’s averaged 79 games, 11 goals, 39 assists, 52 PIMs, 25 PPP and 162 SOG.

Over-valued: Michael Grabner – After breaking out with 34 goals in 2010-11, Grabner regressed to 20 goals and 12 assists last season with just two PPP despite a slight increase in playing time. The 34-goal campaign is likely the outlier -- expect around 20 goals and 40 points.

Sleeper: Brad Boyes – Once a 43-goal scorer (2007-08), Boyes certainly still has talent and could end up alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson this year. If that happens, there’s a chance he reaches 50-plus points, much like PA Parenteau did the last two seasons while on the top line.

-- Follow Matt Cubeta on Twitter: @NHLQubes

The future for New York remains John Tavares and a collection of other young talents, but the Islanders need some of his supporting cast to improve in order to take a step forward this season. PA Parenteau looked like he might be doing just that after a fruitful season next to Tavares, but he's now with the Colorado Avalanche after signing a four-year, $16 million deal.

To replace Parenteau's offense, the Islanders added Brad Boyes in a low-risk signing -- and will be hoping  Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Michael Graber and David Ullstrom find a consistent level of production. Lubomir Visnovsky and Matt Carkner were added to bolster the defense depth, while several young rearguards could have an impact this season.

For the first time in a while, there wasn't a lot of movement during the offseason in goal for the Islanders. There are still plenty of options available, and they won't be dependent on injury-prone Rick DiPietro if they don't want to be.

Forwards

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Brad Boyes

Josh Bailey - Ryan Strome - Kyle Okposo

David Ullstrom - Frans Nielsen - Michael Grabner

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Eric Boulton

Marty Reasoner - Jesse Joensuu

Defensemen

Mark Streit - Travis Hamonic

Lubomir Visnovsky - Andrew MacDonald

Matt Donovan - Matt Carkner

Ty Wishart

Goaltenders

Evgeni Nabokov

Rick DiPietro

Notes: The first big decision will be about Strome's future. If the Islanders send their top pick from the 2011 NHL Draft back to the Ontario Hockey League, Nielsen and Cizikas likely will move up and Reasoner slides into the lineup. Boyes is expected to get the first crack at replacing Parenteau, but if Grabner rediscovers his scoring touch he could end up there.

The top four on defense are set, provided Visnovsky is with the team (he has filed a grievance against his trade from the Anaheim Ducks). Donovan is expected to compete with fellow youngsters Calvin de Haan and Aaron Ness for a spot in the lineup, with the other two likely to start the season in the American Hockey League. Griffin Reinhart, the team's 2012 first-round pick, would need to have a fantastic training camp to earn the spot, and even that might not be enough -- the Islanders have established a desire to be patient with their top prospects, especially on defense.

Nabokov enters the season as the No. 1 guy in net. DiPietro, if healthy, would push him for playing time and something of a platoon could develop. If either isn't able to stay healthy, Kevin Poulin will be waiting in Bridgeport, with Anders Nilsson not far behind.

Follow Corey Masisak on Twitter: @cmasisak22

Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie