If you asked the average NHL fan who the worst managed team in the league is most people would probably say the New York Islanders. Between trading Zdeno Chara and a draft pick that became Jason Spezza for Alexei Yashin to signing Rick DiPietro to a 15 year contract the Islanders have made some of the most infamous blunders in recent history.
Though the Islanders have made their fair share of mistakes they have one of the toughest jobs in the NHL. They have been one of the worst teams in what has been consistently the best division in the league for years. There home arena is old and rundown and they play in the most over saturated hockey market in the league.
They have had three high profile players refuse to play, Christian Ehrhoff who refused so sign a contract, Evgeni Nabokov who refused to play for a season after the Islanders claimed him off waivers, and most recently Lubomir Visnovsky who refused to play after being traded from the Ducks.
Tim Thomas will probably be the next player not to report to the team, but probably has less to do with the Islanders situation and more to with his fear that if he leaves his bunker in Colorado the government will be able to read his thoughts.
The Tim Thomas trade has proved to be the catalyst for a new argument about the Islanders management: business savvy. Under a cloak of poor management the Islanders have been making good business and hockey moves for the past few seasons. While they have had trouble finding quality players with high first round picks, with the exception of Tavares, the Islanders have built a quality team through minor free agent signings and through the waiver wire.
Matt Moulson, who has scored at least 30 goals in every season he’s played with the Islanders, was thought to be more of an AHLer and was originally signed to a contract only worth $575,000. Michael Grabner was claimed after being waived by the Florida Panthers. Starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was claimed off re-entry waivers, while Nabby refused to report the rest of that season, Nabokov came back to the team and signed an extension with the Islanders.
The last player the took off waivers, Keith Aucoin a 34 year old with the dubious honor of probably being the greatest AHLer ever, has already put up 4 goals with Islanders this season. Following a disappointing seasons Brad Boyes took a massive pay cut to sign with the Islanders this season and is now skating with Tavares and Moulson.
The Islanders have kind of became the Island of Misfit Toys of the NHL. And while they may not be cup contenders or even playoff contenders this season they have started to build a foundation for the near future. The team on the ice is embracing this mentality.
A team of second chances. A team built more on grit then skill or a system. When the going gets tough, the Islanders get going. Even if they don’t win the Islanders play better in tougher situations and that’s because of the ideology that permeates from the front office down to the ice.
Pucking Hockey is a registered trademark company. Pucking Hockey is a registered copyright company. All Rights Reserved.