New York Islanders
Team Page | Schedule | Roster | 1998-99 Stats
Sports Illustrated Ranking: 27
By B.J. Schecter
It's hard to imagine things getting much worse for the
Islanders. In the past year this forlorn franchise, which has
had one winning season in the last 11 and is suffering through
the NHL's longest current playoff drought (five seasons), has
traded three of its best players -- high-scoring forward Ziggy
Palffy, captain Trevor Linden and defenseman Bryan Berard, a
former No. 1 pick -- dumping roughly $8 million from its
already-low $24 million payroll. Remember, this is a team that
last year lost 48 games and finished next-to-last in the Eastern
Conference. But if things can't get worse this season, it's
equally hard to imagine them getting much better for a young,
inexperienced club devoid of stars and scoring threats, all the
while toiling in a crumbling arena.
| 1998-99 Leaders |
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In 1998-99 the Islanders were one of only seven NHL teams to
score fewer than 200 goals, and lighting the lamp should be even
more of a chore this season. Inconsistent forward Mariusz
Czerkawski is New York's only returning 20-goal scorer, so the
Islanders will be forced to rely on 20-year-old center Olli
Jokinen (nine goals), who came over in the Palffy deal, and
third-year wing Mike Watt (eight).
Felix Potvin, 27, whom the Islanders acquired from the Maple
Leafs for Berard last January, got off to a shaky start. He did
make 55 saves in a win over New Jersey last season, but he'll be
hard-pressed to do that every night. Potvin is just keeping the
pipes warm until the Islanders' top prospect, Roberto Luongo, is
ready, but that won't be for at least another year. Backliners
Kenny Jonsson and 6'9", 240-pound Zdeno Chara are a capable first
pairing, but beyond that the Islanders' defense is leaky at best.
Off the ice, the Islanders' ownership situation is a mess -- the
team is about to change hands for the fourth time in four years.
Current owners Howard Milstein and Steven Gluckstern bought the
team last year but were so distraught when a federal judge
wouldn't allow them to get out of the team's lease at aging
Nassau Coliseum that they are in the process of selling the team
while slicing the payroll even more.
Butch Goring, a centerpiece during the early '80s when the
Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups, is the new coach,
but even in a best-case scenario it will be a few years before
New York returns to the playoffs. The Islanders do have a few top
prospects in the minors, although the usually-optimistic general
manager Mike Milbury says, "I don't have a clear vision for this
year." Which means it's going to be another long season on Long
Issue date: October 4, 1999
SI's Scouting Report Main Page
SI's Pierre McGuire Insider Rankings
New coach Butch Goring was a scrapper when he played for the Islanders and his teams in Utah reflected his personality.
Isles are high on young defensive trio of Eric Brewer, Zdeno Chara and Kenny Jonsson. Of course, the also really liked Bryan McCabe, Bryan Berard and Scott Lachance at one point.
G Roberto Luongo. Some figure he's another year away, but with Felix Potvin's price tag, the kid may be the man by January. |
1999 Hobey Baker winner Jason Krog joins Isles system after an 85-point season at New Hampshire.
The constant franchise instability always looms.
People, Places and Things
GM: Mike Milbury
Coach: Butch Goring; 1st season; 1st overall
Assistants: Lorne Henning; Greg Cronin
Last year: 24-48-10 (25th overall)
PP: 13th (15.8%)
PK: 18th (83.5%)
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Sat., Oct. 2: Opening day at Tampa Bay.
Sun., Oct. 10: Home opener against Colorado.
Mon., Oct. 11: The hated Rangers make their first of three appearances at Nassau Coliseum.
Mon., Jan. 31: Should old acquaintances be forgotten? . . . Isles spend New Year's Eve in L.A. getting re-acquainted with Ziggy Palffy.
5: Consecutive years without a playoff appearance.
"I doubt it, but I'm not going to rule anything out. I just talked about having an open camp and if I say, 'Forget it,' than it would be unfair to Roberto. ... If he's standing on his head and proving that he's a National Hockey League goalie, then maybe we have to take a different route. But until then, he's scheduled for Lowell (of the AHL)." -- GM Mike Milbury on the chances of Roberto Luongo playing with the Islanders this season.