"Eyes on the Enemy" is a continuing bi-annual series on the NY Rangers Blog giving fans updates on the Rangers closest rivals. Part 5 of the Olympic version of 'EotE' will focus on the New York Islanders. Any contract figures listed below are courtesy of capgeek.com
Standings: 22-30-8 (16 ROW) Fourteen points behind Philadelphia for 3rd in Metro Division; Twelve points behind Detroit for final Wild Card playoff spot.
Record vs. NYR: 2-3 (Season series completed)
Available Trade Deadline Cap Space: $59,635,119 (<-- not a typo)
Unfortunately for the Islanders, the pesky 2013 squad that gave the Rangers fits and made the postseason turned out to be just an aberration as this years' team is what we've expected the Islanders to be, a mess. The early season trade that sent Matt Moulson, a first rounder in June's draft and a 2nd rounder in 2015 to Buffalo for Tomas Vanek and his expiring contract and huge cap hit is going to prove to be poor asset allocation in due time. After acquiring Vanek on October 27th, the Islanders season completely went into the tank winning just 9 of their next 29 games, including a losing streak the reached 10 games in early December with coach Jack Capuano miraculously surviving the free fall with his job still intact. To add insult to literal injury, Tavares suffered a knee sprain during the Olympics and is expected to be sidelined for the rest of the season.
The lone bright spot this season has been the emergence of Kyle Okposo. Okposo, who was a long shot candidate to make Team USA's roster in Sochi, has kept up a point per game pace playing along side Tavares. We'll find out in short order whether Tavares' impact inflated Okposo's statistics as he's likely to find rookie Ryan Strome taking the captain's spot on the lineup.
As the trade deadline approaches, the Islanders look to be sellers leading up to March 5th. In addition to Vanek, defenseman Andrew MacDonald declined a reported 4 year, $16 million extension from the Islanders just before the Olympic break and is rumored to be on the block. MacDonald, making just $575K this season is well on his way to a career year. MacDonald could fetch a decent return for teams looking for some offensive punch from the blueline.
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