By Matt Calamia
The New York Islanders have followed the blueprint designed by the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and — to a lesser extent — the Washington Capitals — of being uncompetitive for several seasons in order to stockpile young talent through the draft in hopes of eventually making a run at a Stanley Cup.
The fruits of the Islanders’ labor finally began to ripen last season, as the Islanders qualified for the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season, thanks in large part to the emergence of 2009 first-overall draft pick John Tavares as a true superstar in the NHL, as well as a supporting cast of young, hungry players who appear to be ready to lead the franchise back to contention.
While qualifying for the playoffs is certainly a step in the right direction, the Islanders still have several question marks throughout their lineup, namely on defense and especially in net. That, coupled with the addition of two — possibly three — strong teams into an already competitive Metropolitan Division will certainly test the will of this still young squad.
Check out our preview of the New York Islanders, then share your thoughts on John Tavares and the Islanders in the comments below.