[dropcap color="#888" type="square"]T[/dropcap]he New York Islanders had a rough season last year, especially on the defensive side of the puck. That is a fact that nobody in their reputable and right mind can deny or ignore.
As much as some media have preached patience and better things on the horizon, it seems that the long-suffering and loyal Islanders fan-base is finally catching on.
Last night, prized prospect Griffin Reinhart captained the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-2 victory over the Portland Winterhawks in game seven of the WHL finals. This is the second title in three years for Edmonton and cements Reinhart in tales of lore about the organizations historical past as he becomes a member of the National Hockey League.
Reinhart was the driving force behind the teams’ successful playoff run, posting MVP winning statistics of 13 points in 21 games from the blueline. Added to his regular season, the burly and powerful future Islander posted 34 points in 66 games.
— Griffin Reinhart (@GriffinReinhart) May 13, 2014
With the excitement that comes from winning a championship is also the realization that Reinhart is about a month behind the professionals in rest and preparation for training camp come September 2014. Perhaps the lack of downtime will be just what is needed for Reinhart to keep up his focus and intensity as he will come to Brooklyn with perhaps a job to not win, but only lose.
As we look forward, there are certainly some interesting stories that will have to play out over the course of the summer months about how the New York blueline stacks up when all is said and done.
Coming into camp looking for permanent spots will be Reinhart, Kevin Czuczman and Scott Mayfield. Granted Donovan gets signed and remains in the organization, that means 6 players will be competing for 2 starting spots and a rotating scratch spot.
We have not even gotten to the point where Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and Andrei Pedan are relatively close to being ready to compete.
Does Garth Snow go out and sign a veteran with plenty of playoff experience that could push the youngsters on the club to possibly new heights in their development? At the same time, consider he would be taking away another roster spot that could be claimed by a player looking to make an impact and show management what he could do.
It’s a situation that many have clamored for over the past couple of seasons. A reliable, big, agile and tough defense that could gel and play together for years to come. Consistency breeds familiarity, a very important and under-rated aspect of defensive cohesion.
We are not in management’s shoes, nor do we get paid to make these kinds of decisions. But when you flip the last page of the Islanders summer plan handbook and prepare to train for the 2014-15 season, these are the kinds of decisions that you want to have had over the previous four months.
They are good problems to have….problems that teams like the Edmonton Oilers would LOVE to have……