For The Islanders, Everything Hangs In The Balance This Offseason

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Everything from their home to their direction to their captain’s future is up in the air this summer, with much of the burden falling on Garth’s ever-trusted decision making.

I feel like I’ve written that headline a half dozen times in all my days but here we are yet again. What seemed like bright, promising, times on the horizon have quickly turned back into the ever-gray feeling of unsteadiness within an organization that is trying to keep up with the rapidly evolving Metro Division.

One could argue that, not only is this team still in the middle of a now 11-year rebuild, it is currently going through a rebuild within the rebuild. The replacing of Okie, Frans, and Marts with Chimera, Ladd, and others has been quite the experiment, and despite it being comparing apples to oranges, it’s clear this team is not what it used to be. If Garth wants to return this roster to what is was just a few years ago big decisions need to be made now, before the rock he’s been pushing uphill for years falls down the opposite side.

A few weeks ago I wrote how this season marked a change in identity for a club dealing with the departure of not only a good portion of their forward core, but their longtime head coach in Jack Capuano. And though this team has a promising group of prospects all set to make their mark on the league next year, the idea of continuing to wait for talent to blossom instead of looking outside of the organization for improvements should not be Garth’s Plan-A, after years of doing just that to no real avail.

With a seemingly weak Free Agent market this summer, this means trades should be made. And whether or not they are is telling of where Garth’s head is at regarding the direction of this franchise. If, and I stress the if, trades are made, it shows Garth is finally feeling some pressure to improve the team now as opposed to crossing his fingers on home-grown talent, something he has been more than comfortable doing for some years now.

If he chooses to sit on his hands and hope for the best out of now NHL-vets such as Strome, Nelson, and Kulemin, or youngsters like JHS and Beau, it means it’s more of the same for a team that just. can’t. seem. to break through into the next tier of NHL clubs.

Then there’s prospects like Barzal and Pulock who should absolutely, positively, be getting their shots at the NHL level come October. Both find themselves ready to step into a mess of log-jammed, unproven talent to compete with in guys like Prince, Quine, Mayfield, Pelech, and others [others being Dennis Seidenberg and Stephen fucking Gionta] and though unproven themselves, possess higher ceilings than any of the aforementioned players and should rightfully get the first look.

If Garth does decide to explore the trade route, it has to be a move(s) that not only improves the roster, but makes room for the young talent that have earned their chance. A task easier said then done, though I’m sure we all have faith in Garth making the right decisions regarding this team’s dicey direction.

Speaking of dicey futures, let’s talk about how scary it is to think JTs future as an Islander will most likely be decided within the next two months.

With the final year of his insanely team-friendly contract set to start come July 1st, so does the window to extend the now 26-year old superstar. And whether or not he and the team can reach an agreement on an extension by July 2nd will pretty much tell you everything you need to know regarding his future with the team.

Both sides have been pretty clear they want to make it work, but wanting to do something and actually following through with it are two totally different things when it comes to contracts in professional sports.

No one except for JT and his camp know exactly what needs to be done/said to get him to extend, but if there’s one thing the man wants to do it’s win, and frankly the Isles haven’t done much of that since drafting him back in 2009. Add in the fact Garth has yet to find him a true pair of wingers while simultaneously letting go of all of his close friends in the room, it’s tough to argue the powers that be have provided the friendliest environment for one of the league’s best.

Fact is, JT wants to remain an Islander, the Islanders want JT to remain an Islander, but with everything that goes into the decision, and everything that needs to be done to prove this team is ready to provide him with a winning atmosphere for years to come, it’s tough to sit here and tell you guys not to worry about The Captain’s future as an Islander.

Among all the on-ice decisions that need to be addressed this summer, so is the actual decision of just where that ice will be located. The relationship between the Islanders and the Barclays Center can be placed up there with Spears-Federline and Kardashian-Humphries in terms of longevity and it’s clear Brooklyn won’t be home to Isles hockey in the future.

Right now, Belmont seems to be the move, with a formal pitch from the team soon to come. But much like the rest of the decisions that are staring this team in the face, a lot has to go right for both sides to meet. Transportation, funding, Nassau politicians taking a single day off from ruining half of Long Island’s infrastructure, all of it needs to go down flawlessly if the Isles want to get a definite answer on just where they’ll be playing their games in the near future. Add that to the rapidly growing list of uncertainties hovering around this organization.

After the past few years of finally thinking we were beyond these trying times, finding ourselves back in the flow of worrying about this team’s direction and the decision making abilities of it’s head honcho is a swift kick to the unmentionables, but then again maybe we should be used to this feeling by now? Regardless, time is a gd mfing flat circle and the Isles have a lot of work to do this offseason.