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Islanders Q&A: Ryan Strome, playoffs, Nabokov
Islanders beat writer Arthur Staple answered questions from Newsday readers on Thursday. Here’s some of the highlights from the chat:
Kyle: Do you think this team is capable of winning 1+ rounds in the playoffs?
Staple: Kyle -- The way they've played the last 9 games, it's hard to say "no chance" to that. The Bruins/Penguins first-round matchup will be tough, for sure, and we'll see what the Isles can do tonight. But if they play this way, with this much confidence and balance? They won't be an easy out.
Mark W: Ryan Strome is playing right wing at Bridgeport. Is this in preparation for him to play there next season on the Islanders, on JT's line?
Staple: Mark -- I think Strome will be a RW next season, wherever he's playing. For him to be a legit second-line NHL center, he has to be able to handle the physical demands of facing off against the best the league has to offer; don't think he's there yet. I personally don't see him with Tavares right away, but I could certainly see him as a 2nd-line wing.
Ken: You've mentioned the Isles wanting to retain Nabokov. Would it be as a starter again, or would they look to bring someone else in as a starter? eg Backstrom, Bryzgalov, Smith...
Jeff from College Point: I'm tired of hearing that Nabby is 'too old' and being overplayed to stay successful. Baloney! He has shown that he is a true warrior and team leader. Your perspective please.
Staple: Ken -- I think they need two goaltenders; one of them being Nabokov would be good, given how much he's liked in the room. I don't see Snow going for a long-term deal for a goaltender -- other than Lundqvist, when has one of those mega-deals worked out? But there will be some serivceable vets available to challenge for time and make it a 50/32 type workload split. Poulin could be that guy too, and he'll be in the mix in camp for sure.
Stu Bacon: In the locker room, who are the guys who are kind of at the center of everyone? I don't mean Streit being captain, but the guys on the team who other people just gravitate to for their personalities.
Staple: Stu -- Nabokov is basically the class clown at times, keeping everyone loose; he's also the wisest and most talkative of the veterans. Kyle Okposo has started to become more vocal over this season. Tavares will always be a focal point because of his stature with the club. I'd say other presences are Hamonic, Matt Martin and Colin McDonald.
Stay tuned information on our next chat.