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2014-15 NHL season preview: Metropolitan Division
NHL
2014-15 NHL season preview: Metropolitan Division
Eli Bernstein
Thursday October 2nd, 2014

MORE METRO PREVIEWS: Rangers | Capitals | Penguins | Flyers | Devils | Blue Jackets | Hurricanes

COACH: Jack Capuano

2013-14 RECORD: 34-37-11, 79 points (eighth in Metropolitan, missed playoffs)

VITAL SIGNS: 2.6 goals per game (17th), 3.2 goals-against per game (28th); 17.8 power play pct. (17th); 78.1 penalty kill pct. (29th); shootout record: 9-6 (7th)

NOTABLE ARRIVALS: G Jaroslav Halak, G Chad Johnson, C Mikhail Grabovski, RW Nikolai Kulemin, F Cory Conacher, D Johnny Boychuk, D Nick Leddy

NOTABLE DEPARTURES: G Evgeni Nabokov, D Radek Martinek

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

Forwards

Brock Nelson — John Tavares — Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner — Mikhail Grabovski — Nikolai Kulemin
Josh Bailey — Frans Nielsen — Ryan Strome
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
​Cory Conacher

Defensemen

Travis Hamonic — Johnny Boychuk
Nick Leddy — Calvin de Haan
Lubomir Visnovsky — Thomas Hickey
Brian Strait, Matt Carkner

Goalies

Jaroslav Halak
Chad Johnson

NHL
Best case scenarios for Eastern Conference teams

OUTLOOK: The Islanders suffered a setback in 2013-14 after making the playoffs the previous season, the low point coming when main man John Tavares suffered a season-ending knee injury at the Sochi Olympics. Tavares is back and ready to cement his place among the NHL elite again, but his supporting cast will be hard-pressed to back him up. New York made a small splash by signing forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin, but their best seasons are behind them. More important was the acquisition of Jaroslav Halak, a proven presence between the pipes who can help remedy the Isles’ recent struggles in net. The defense in front of Halak was bolstered significantly by the training camp acquisition of Johnny Boychuk from Boston and Nick Leddy from Chicago, adding experience (both players have won the Stanley Cup) and an element of menace (Boychuk). As a result, the Isles have a good shot to grab a playoff berth, provided that they can avoid their usual wave of injuries or prolonged losing streak that derails their postseason hopes.

• UPDATE: Isles acquire blueliners Boychuk and Leddy

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kyle Okposo

There was some grumbling in hockey circles when Okposo was left off the U.S. Olympic team last winter, and with good reason. He put up almost a point per game (69 in 71) for the Isles last year, and his wrecking-ball, don’t-back-down mentality is the perfect complement to Tavares’ skill on the Islanders’ top line. A step up this season could make him a top-15 scorer in the league.

PREDICTION: 80 points (seventh in Metropolitan)

• ATLANTIC PREVIEWS: Canadiens | Bruins | Sabres | Panthers | Maple Leafs | Red Wings | Lightning | Senators

• CENTRAL PREVIEWS: Wild | Stars | Blackhawks | Avalanche | Jets | Predators | Blues

PACIFIC PREVIEWS: Canucks | Sharks | Coyotes | Flames | Ducks | Oilers | Kings

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