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2014-2015 NHL preview: New York Islanders

John Tavares is back healthy to lead the Islanders' offense.
Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

The future of the New York Islanders, off the ice, is looking solid. They are moving out of their terrible arena, and into Brooklyn, and Charles Wang is going to be phased out of his majority ownership. However, what about their future on the ice? They will hope it is better than their recent past, because New York was lousy again last year. With 79 points, they were fifth worst in the NHL in that regard, and their minus-42 goal differential was fourth worst. Only two teams let in more goals, but that's a place where things should be better.

Last season, the goaltending was truly horrendous. Evgeni Nabokov led the way with a .905 save percentage, but he also only played in 40 games. That could not stand, and it didn't. So now, Jaroslav Halak is their goalie. He has a career .918 SV%, and his backup Chad Johnson is better than anybody the Islanders had last year. Solely based on this fact, the Islanders will be better.

Also helpful? A fully healthy John Tavares. He's one of the best players in the league. Kyle Okposo is still around, and Michael Grabner has had his good times in the past. Ryan Strome has potential. The team also added Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, two pretty good Toronto castoffs. The rare castoffs from Toronto worth their salt! Sure, Thomas Vanek is gone, but does anybody even remember that he was there?

The defense, well, has questions. They don't have Andrew MacDonald anymore, but they have Calvin De Haan and Thomas Hickey and the potential of Griffin Reinhart. Their numbers weren't great necessarily, but the potential is there. Still, this is a weak spot.

I definitely expect the Islanders to be better, and they have no reason not to be, because their draft pick is going to Buffalo. The goaltending should be good, perhaps really good. The forwards have talent, led by Tavares. Puck possession could be an issue, but maybe not a huge one. I don't know if they are going to make it into the playoffs. I can definitely see it, though. They are an interesting team, headed in the right direction; Brooklyn.

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