Following the announcement of D Mark Streit's six-month absence there are a few items today discussing how the Isles can try to replace their top D-man: one from within, one from without.
Internally, Chris Botta writes that the team will look long and hard at Andrew MacDonald. MacDonald has been paired with James Wisniewski since Streit's injury and told Botta he's happy with a recent vote of confidence from head coach Scott Gordon:
“It’s always nice to hear the good stuff, but I have to prove it on the ice,” said MacDonald, who had a goal and six assists in the NHL last season. “One thing I’ve learned since junior is that when you think too much, when you over-analyze a situation, you put yourself in trouble. Last year, I was pretty much focused at the NHL level on my defense. If the coaches decide to give me more of an offensive role, I would welcome the opportunity.
“The one thing I can pretty much guarantee you is, not one guy is going to replace Mark Streit.”
MacDonald played 46 games last season and averaged just over 20 minutes of ice time. And don't let last season's offensive numbers fool you. In his final season in junior hockey with the Moncton Wildcats, MacDonald averaged nearly a point per game (14 G, 44 A in 65 games) and put up 33 points in 69 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2008-09.
The developing D-man is no stranger to facing stiff competition either. According to the stats of Gabe Desjardins at Behindthenet.ca, MacDonald's quality of competition score (which measures the talent level of opposing skaters players see each shift) is the highest of any Islander D with more than 40 games last season, including Streit.
Externally, disgruntled D Sheldon Souray was placed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers yesterday. The Toronto Globe and Mail has already linked the Islanders as a potentially interested party to claim him.
When healthy, Souray is one of the best point-producing defensemen in the NHL (117 points in his last two seasons of 80 games or more) and could quarterback the Islanders' power play. However, he's been stewing all summer that the Oilers rushed him back last season and the team ordered him to stay away when camp began. Since then they've been trying to trade him to no avail.
On the surface, Souray fits with the Islanders. However, the Islanders have spent these past few seasons building from within and adding a big-contract guy like Souray ($5.4 million for the next two seasons) would go against that MO. And bringing an alleged malcontent into a locker room of young guys might not be the best move to help team chemistry. Also consider that the Oilers are a team very similar to the Islanders in their rebuilding process and they're desperately trying to get rid of this guy.
The internal solution of MacDonald seems a much better fit at this point.