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Fantasy Puck Preview: New York Islanders

Scott Cullen
9/4/2010 11:50:04 AM
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For a team that is ranked this low, there are actually quite a few players that could provide fantasy value; such is the nature of such a young team maturing.

Perhaps the safest of Islanders is defenceman Mark Streit, a 32-year-old who has 105 points in two seasons after leaving Montreal as a free agent. Streit's production ought to place him in the top dozen defenceman, which is higher than the rest of the Islanders, relative to the rest of the league.

Young forwards John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Matt Moulson and Blake Comeau all have potential value, particularly as leagues get deeper.

Tavares had an up-and-down rookie year, but still finished second in the rookie scoring race. His game may ultimately be better-suited to the wing and his fantasy value would increase in that case, but right now he's stacked up against some strong competition at the deepest position.

Josh Bailey could be in a similar position and he succeeded in a scoring role in the second half last season and may be destined for the wing but, at centre, he'll need a big jump from last year's 35 points.

Perhaps the most promising Islanders forward, for fantasy purposes this season, is Kyle Okposo, a right-winger who scored 52 points last season, depite finishing a paltry 7.6% of his shots on goal. Okposo's minus-22 last year was ghastly, so that has to improve, but he has a chance to be very good at a relatively shallow position.

A sleeper or breakthrough candidate, Blake Comeau finished 2009-2010 with 21 points in his last 21 games. He's not going to keep that pace over a full season, but there's still lots of room for him to improve on last year's total of 35 points.

Matt Moulson broke through with 30 goals last season, so he's not going to be under the radar this year, but the question is: can he do it again?

Acquired from Anaheim in a summer trade, James Wisniewski could have value in deep leagues as he can provide points and penalty minutes while logging a lot of ice time. If the Islanders struggle, however, Wisniewski could be a plus-minus concern because of how much ice time he's likely to garner.

The greatest reason for concern about the Islanders this season is goaltending. Dwayne Roloson is going to be 41 in the first week of the season and, while he played well last year, he shouldn't be asked to handle 50 games again.

That leaves Rick DiPietro, the 29-year-old who has played in 12 games over the last two seasons due to ongoing knee and hip injuries. If DiPietro is finally healthy, and back to his 2006-2007 form, then the Islanders could be in business but, given recent events, that could only be expected by the most optimistic of Islanders faithful.

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