Another season is in the books for the Islanders, and despite having the worst record in team history since their expansion year there is hope for the Islanders. The Islanders have alot of young talented players (also adding Lindgren, Isbister, and Krog to the lineup) as well as a top five pick in the upcoming draft. Several Islander prospects had good rookie seasons and have graduated from the ranks of prospects.
During the last few months of the season Zdeno Chara emerged as one of the team’s best players. He was logging well over 20 minutes a game, saw time on special teams, and was a dominant physical force. Zdeno has made tremendous progress this year and has established that he will be a top 4 defenseman for many years.
Fellow rookie rearguard Eric Brewer also had a solid first season. He experienced some growing pains, typical of young defenseman, but was able to learn from and make up for his mistakes. His high talent level is very apparent in his play and he has shown great character and work ethic. Eric should continue to blossom in the next few seasons the same way in which Kenny Jonsson did. Brewer seems destined to be one of the top defenseman in the league.
Mike Watt also completed a solid rookie season. He played every postion and was placd in many different roles throuhgout the year. He has good size, is a shifty passer and has a surprisingly quick shot. Watt too, should continue to progress and become a reliable forward for the Islanders.
A pleasant surprise for the Islanders came from Vladimir Chebaturkin who made the most of his 8 game call up. Chebaturkin was rock solid and in the last few gamas saw over 20 minutes of ice time. He also had 10 PIM, and led the team with a +6 rating. The Islanders brass was very impressed with his play and he should earn a spot with the big club next training camp.
In another bright spot, the Islanders farm team Lowell won their division and are poised to make a playoff charge. The may also get a jumpstart if Milbury decides to send some of the top prospects down to get some playoff experience. The Isles still have two prospects playing in the Junior playoffs. Both Roberto Luongo and Chris Nielsen are huge parts of their teams run into their league semifinals. Nielsen has posted 10 goals and 14 ponts in his 14 games while drawing the assignment of shutting down his opponents top line. Luongo has been his typical spectacular self. He has a 2.77 GAA and a .922 SV%. He has been Bathurst’s best player as he continues to face well over 30 shots a game. Luongo is once again showing the hockey world why he is the best prospect.