The buzz surrounding the new-look Islanders continued at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on Friday night, as fans made their way to the arena to attend a watch party for the 2018 NHL Draft.
Fresh off Thursday’s highly-anticipated signing of former Capitals coach Barry Trotz to a five-year deal just two weeks after leading Washington to the Stanley Cup, the Islanders selected USA U-18 right wing Oliver Wahlstrom with the 11th overall pick and Canadian defenseman Noah Dobson with the No. 12 selection.
Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock was in attendance as well and spoke glowingly of the recent additions of longtime executive Lou Lamoriello as president of hockey operations and Trotz, who resigned as Capitals’ coach on Monday.
“It’s definitely a lot different, but I think it’s gonna be good,” Pulock said. “Lou has obviously been very successful everywhere he’s gone. Barry Trotz has had success; they’re two great hockey minds. I think the right people are in place and they’re gonna get us to play our best and I think it’ll be exciting for the fans.”
Fans such as Adam Weiss of Sea Cliff, 43, are beaming about the team’s future.
“I’m very excited about signing Trotz,” Weiss said. “It seems like everything is being handled very professionally and it gives you a lot of optimism as a fan.”
As the outset of free agency quickly approaches, the primary focus among the fan base now shifts to the impending decision of captain John Tavares. The 2009 No. 1 overall pick, who recorded 37 goals and 47 assists this past season, is set to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
“I think the chances of re-signing Tavares are better now,” said Stephen Liotta, 47, of Selden. “I think the ball’s in his court at this point. Ownership has done a very good job and now it’s up to him. They’ve given him all the pieces to say ‘Hey, we’re committed 100 percent to making this a winning franchise and now if you want to join them come.’ ”
With a highly regarded executive such as Lamoriello at the helm, Liotta said there is plenty of reason to feel optimistic about the organization.
“Lamoriello’s a quality guy with a proven track record,” Liotta said. “He’s definitely brought stability and some respect back to the franchise that they’ve needed for a long time.”