|ESPN.com: NHL Preview 2005||[Print without images]|
Offense: With Michael Peca's departure Alexei Yashin will wear the captain's "C," sparking yet another round of debate over Yashin's focus, dedication and unrealized potential. The gifted forward is one of dozens of skilled players who should benefit from a more open style of play. Still, it's difficult to imagine Yashin being the kind of dressing room leader who can motivate his teammates for those crucial late-season division games.
The Islanders said goodbye to Dave Scatchard and captain Peca, both character guys. In their place is Miroslav Satan who, if you listen to his former teammates and the coaching staff in Buffalo, doesn't quite qualify in the character category. Former Ranger Mike York arrives via the Peca deal with Edmonton, and he'll need to realize the offensive potential that has seen him twice top the 20-goal mark.
The Islanders do have some promising players coming through the system, including 2004 rookie of the year finalist Trent Hunter, who will have to continue his surprising development if the Isles are going to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Defense: With the loss of underappreciated Adrian Aucoin to Chicago, the retirement of Kenny Jonsson to Sweden and the defection of Roman Hamrlik to Calgary, a team that once boasted one of the deepest, most-talented defensive groups is now just ordinary. Alexei Zhitnik comes in from Buffalo, but he and Janne Niinimaa do not a blue-line corps make.
The Islanders need considerable help from Brent Sopel -- who arrives from Vancouver, where he was considered expendable -- and Brad Lukowich, who won Stanley Cups with Dallas and Tampa Bay but likewise wasn't part of the Bolts' long-term plans. Both Sopel and still-developing Radek Martinek will have to step forward to keep the Isles on sound defensive footing.
Goaltending: Rick DiPietro will also be asked to take a giant stride forward. The brash former No. 1 pick showed he is on the right track with a star turn at the World Championships, and no one will be surprised if he is the starting goaltender for the U.S. at the 2006 Olympics.
|New York Islanders|
Search: New York Islanders
|Comings & Goings|
D Alexei Zhitnik; D Brent Sopel; LW Mike York; LW Miroslav Satan; D Brad Lukowich; D Joel Bouchard; LW Travis Brigley.
D Adrian Aucoin; C Michael Peca; D Roman Hamrlik; C Dave Scatchard; D Eric Cairns; D Alexander Karpovtsev; D Sven Butenschon; D Kenny Jonsson; RW Mariusz Czerkawski; C Cliff Ronning.
|When we last saw them|
Hunter led the team with 25 goals and 26 assists in 2003-04.
DiPietro carried a bulk of the load in 2003-04, posting a 23-18-5 record and .911 save percentage.
“I've made my feelings known that Long Island is where I want to spend my career.”
— DiPietro on his future