2014-15 NHL Metropolitan Division preview: A thin defense corps will likely doom the New York Islanders to also-ran status.
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
Travis Hamonic — Johnny Boychuk
Nick Leddy — Calvin de Haan
Lubomir Visnovsky — Thomas Hickey
Brian Strait, Matt Carkner
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)