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Monday, January 7, 2013
Three questions for the Islanders

By Mike Mazzeo

The lockout is over -- and hockey is back! With that in mind, here are three questions facing the Islanders as they head into training camp.

How much of a blow is not having Lubomir Visnovsky?

A huge one. Visnovsky’s agent told ESPNNewYork.com that the veteran defenseman is going to remain in the KHL for the remainder of the season due to family and personal reasons. The Islanders traded for Visnovsky in the offseason and were counting on him to help bolster their power play. Their other top defenseman, Travis Hamonic, is still recovering from a concussion. Mark Streit is a solid and productive blueliner, but otherwise the Isles don’t have much else in that department.

What can we expect from John Tavares?

Coming off an 81-point season last year, a lot. Tavares tore it up in the Swiss League during the lockout, scoring 18 goals and notching 43 points in 28 games. He’s obviously their top player, having signed a six-year, $33 million extension to remain with the club in September of 2011. Tavares will miss having P.A. Parenteau alongside him; Parenteau signed with the Colorado Avalanche during the offseason. Could Kyle Okposo replace Parenteau on the top line with Tavares and left winger Matt Moulson?

Can the Islanders surprise in this lockout shortened season?

In recent years, the Isles have been a major disappointment. But in a lockout shortened year, anything can happen. On the bright side, even if they continue to struggle, at least they’ll be another step closer to moving to Brooklyn and becoming competitive again.