While the Islanders won't be going to the playoffs this season, it was a season of important strides. After finishing with a league worst 61 points in 2008-2009, the Isles improved by 18 points in the standings. They also claimed a 30 goal scorer in Matt Moulson, and had two other young players (John Tavares and Kyle Okposo) finish with over 50 points. And even with all of these promising things, they will still hold the likely 5th overall selection in this summer's entry draft, another chance to add young talent to the team.
Coach Scott Gordon was in a talkative mood after Sunday evening's (4/11) game, the final one of the season. While the Isles lost to Pittsburgh by a 6-5 score in overtime, the coach seemed upbeat about the future, as he should be. He claimed to be comfortable with the level of familiarity he has now established with his players, something he never had in his freshman season. He was also pleased that certain players such as Matt Moulson, had been rewarded for their hard work right out of training camp.
As for Kyle, his 3 points (1 G, 2 A) on Sunday pushed him past the 50 point threshold for the first time in his career. He finishes 2009-2010 with 19 goals and 33 assists in 80 games. Watching him all season, though, makes you feel as if his 52 points could have easily been 60 or 65 with a little better luck. However 52 is nothing to sneeze at and we fully expect for Kyle to improve on that number next season as his game continues to mature.
Finally, while he may not win the league's top rookie award, John Tavares had a heck of season (24 goals and 30 assists for 54 points). Look for his scoring to become even more consistent next season as well.
Over the summer the Islanders will have work to do. Gordon rightfully pointed out that the team has several expiring contracts that will need to be dealt with, and the coach mentioned that he hopes his squad will have a little more size next season.
We wish the Islanders players and staff a healthy offseason and hope that 2010-2011 is finally the year when the franchise reclaims its place among the league's elite teams.