Islanders mailbag: Playoffs, Ryan Pulock, Andrew Ladd and more
Islanders beat reporter Arthur Staple took questions from Twitter followers this week ahead of the NHL’s All-Star Weekend.
Here are 10 answers for this week:
@JimMacOAS: isles still have a tough task to make playoffs, what do you see as the biggest obstacle to getting there?
The biggest obstacle is how the Islanders finished the first half of the season. Obviously they need to win a decent majority of their remaining games — it seems they’d need around 44 points in the final 35 to have a good sho — but the reality is that banking points in the first half of the season is one of the only ways to feel good about a playoff berth.
It’s going to be difficult for the Islanders to keep up their recent pace. For one, there’s the pesky fact that 22 of the last 34 games are on the road. For another, some of these good teams that have faltered will pick it back up.
So the Islanders certainly have given themselves a chance with their play the last month or so. But it will take a sustained run of good-to-great play for them to make it, thanks to the blah first half.
@salvatore51: when will Ryan Pulock get recalled?
The most frequently asked question in this mailbag, and one that leaves me with a bit of an arched eyebrow in response.
The Isles have had their best six-game defensive stretch since the 2002-03 season (thanks to MSG stat man Eric Hornick for that tidbit) and they’ve done it without Travis Hamonic and with Johnny Boychuk and Thomas Hickey missing games.
That means that Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield have been pretty capable. Which means Ryan Pulock, for all his potential, really doesn’t fill a need right now; those needs are filled, unfortunately for Pulock, who also had a two-week injury that set him back before this Isles run began.
So it simply isn’t his time right now. A couple of injuries, a run of poor play could change that. But those also could change the team’s fortunes in the short term. If that’s a trade-off you’re willing to make so that Pulock gets some NHL time, hey, go for that opinion. I doubt it’s shared by many of your fellow fans.
@IMjoinka: do u think Ladd will get another chance to play on 1st line? Soon?
Considering how the first line has been dominant in the last 5-6 games, I’d say not right now. It’s hard to look at the way the Anders Lee-John Tavares-Josh Bailey trio played last night and think, “This line needs to be broken up!”
Andrew Ladd was going pretty well with Alan Quine and Jason Chimera before Ladd’s injury, so my guess is that’s the line that stays together until further notice. When you want to get one guy going, the solution is rarely to break up two lines that are playing well.
@ThisFGOH what are the 2-3 moves the Isles could make b/w now and July 1 to improve its cap position going into 17-18
Buying out or trading Jaroslav Halak is a start. That would at least save a couple million off the cap for next year.
They could try to trade one of their players with a year left on their deals — Bailey, Nikolay Kulemin, Ryan Strome, Hickey (provided he’s not lost in the expansion draft) are the ones in that category.
The Isles have a ton of money coming off the books after next season, so for now it seems unlikely they’d make major changes and multiple moves to free up a few million for a big deal or signing in July when, in 2018, they’ll have tons of flexibility. That could change if the front office changes this offseason.
@Scottiooo If Weight wins lots. Will that lead 2 removing interim HC to HC? Or does management want winning pedigree this time
Winning changes everything. If the team as currently constituted and with Doug Weight behind the bench wins enough to get to the postseason then yes, I think the owners have to consider him. How could they not?
They may want to go with a flashier name in the coaching world, one with a better pedigree, but that could prove more disruptive to the team going forward than hiring a veteran coach as an associate to Weight.
@aaronfeigin Did Garth learn his lesson w/the Franzie debacle? Will he get Greiss signed for another 2+ years soon or wait?
I would guess, though I haven’t heard much, that Garth Snow and Thomas Greiss’ agent have been in contact. Agents don’t just sit back and wait for teams to come to them when their clients are playing lights out for a year-plus.
And given that there aren’t any No. 1 goaltender candidates in the Isles pipeline — they will surely try to bring Ilya Sorokin over from the KHL this summer, but that’s never a sure thing — Greiss is quite surely in their plans beyond this season.
@GJBALDACCHINO Feeling Martin is guy missed most, team lacks size & toughness/can’t play best when don’t feel safe. Whats da fix?
I don’t know about this one. Tavares has taken the same level of physical abuse he has every season, and the amount of time Matt Martin spent on a line with Tavares in all their years as teammates was roughly zero minutes. Mike Babcock has praised Martin’s enforcer role with the Leafs, though I think Martin the person is far more valuable to a young team such as Toronto than Martin the fighter.
And I can recall four instances this season when an opponent tried to take liberties with Tavares that were handled immediately. Three by Hamonic and one by Strome. So they stand up for one another just fine.
@massjmcd67 when #3:comes back, and given how well #50 has played with #2, who is most likely to sit and if Adam stays in, does he stay w/ #2
In case you don’t speak Isles numerology, 3 is Hamonic, 50 is Pelech, 2 is Nick Leddy. And yes, Weight has a real decision to make when Hamonic gets healthy — the Leddy-Hamonic pair was bad all season under Jack Capuano. Does Weight’s systemic tweak in the defensive zone mean that he’ll give Leddy-Hamonic another shot? Can’t say for sure right now.
Looking at how Weight has used the Calvin de Haan-Dennis Seidenberg pair (often and in all instances), I doubt he’s breaking that one up or sitting Seidenberg as a healthy scratch. So I think 2-3 will be back together when Hamonic returns, at least in the short term, and Pelech may have to wait his turn to get back in the lineup.
@cosmo_page Whats the #Isles opinion of Ho Sang now being with all the drama in Bridgeport? Do u think they would move him?
No drama, just life with a talented first-year pro. The Islanders knew what they were getting with Josh Ho-Sang when they drafted him. Perhaps the oversleeping thing was not what they foresaw, but Snow handled it and Ho-Sang accepted it and they all moved on.
From talking to Brent Thompson a few weeks back, there have been no off-ice issues with Ho-Sang other than his lateness earlier this month. The other benchings were related to his play and that’s part of the process, as I’ve said many times (because lots of hockey people say it to me).
I don’t think they’d move him because I don’t think they’d get anything of value back.
@CarterHudBlog Where do they go from now on? Compete for a playoff spot or sell/buy at trade deadline? Or do they keep quiet again?
The trade deadline is still a month away, so a lot can happen between now and then. If they stay healthy and play the way they’ve been playing, I don’t see any moves — they’ve got depth at all three positions, and for those who want a scorer to add up front, your team is ninth in the league in goals (2.87 per game).
The trade deadline always fills our heads with big trade ideas, but the Avalanche are still asking for the moon for Matt Duchene, and I doubt that price will come down before March 1 — most GMs see the summer, especially this summer with the expansion draft, as big deal time. Just look at June 29 from last summer to see what I mean.
So I picture a quiet deadline for the Islanders. Once I get on a plane, however, all bets are off — that’s when they’ve made their last few moves.