Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks Eye On The Enemy: Eyes On Isles (N.Y. Islanders)

By Aaron Goldschmidt
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 03: Ryan Hartman
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 03: Ryan Hartman /
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NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 18: John Tavares
NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 18: John Tavares /

Six questions with an Islanders fan

The Islanders currently sit just one point out from a wild-card spot, but the Flyers and Hurricanes are right behind them.  Will they make it in this year?

As currently constructed, I think it’d be extremely tough to make the playoffs. The Metro is insanely competitive, and with the number of injuries, the Islanders have some holes to fill before I’m confident in their playoff chances.

If so, do you see them buying at the deadline?  What position do they need the most?

I think they should absolutely be buyers. They need a top-four defenseman badly with Calvin de Haan done for the year and Johnny Boychuk on the shelf for the moment with an injury. Another depth forward would be nice as well; the Islanders’ top two lines are arguably the best in the league, but after that, there is a steep drop-off.

There has been a lot of buzz around rookie Matthew Barzal.  Talk about what makes him a special player and an Islanders’ fan favorite.

What makes Mathew Barzal so much fun to watch is his speed and awareness. He can skate with the best of them, and he can make veteran defensemen look foolish in the process. He’s been extremely entertaining to watch, and the fact that Garth Snow got him for essentially Griffin Reinhardt (thank you, Peter Chiarelli) makes it that much sweeter. He should be the Calder winner when it’s all said and done this year.

Captain John Tavares is having another stellar season.  At this point, what kind of salary and salary length do you expect he going to demand upon signing?

The Islanders have had John Tavares on the biggest bargain contract the last few years. Since 2012-13, he’s been a $5.5 million cap hit, which is a steal and a half. I’d expect him to get an eight-year deal with the AAV somewhere between $11-12 million.

Blackhawks fans always like to hear about their alumni.  How are Nick Leddy and Andrew Ladd doing so far this season?

Nick Leddy is another fan favorite. He’s easily the Islanders’ best defenseman, and his skating ability is something I look forward to seeing on a nightly basis. Leddy’s on pace for his first 50-point season, and I really hope he hits that mark.

As for Ladd, he’s been a solid piece to this Islanders team this year. He was on pace for about 35 points before getting hurt. The only issue with him is his cap number. $5.5 million for the next five years isn’t looking too hot, but I do like what he brings to the team as a middle-six forward despite that big cap hit.

Next: Blackhawks' Bowman Has Altered His Long-Term Plan

Lastly, what’s your prediction for the score of tonight’s game?

As for my prediction, the Islanders score a ton of goals, but they also let in goals like nobody else. Expect a high-scoring game and always bet the over. I’m going to guess a 5-4 overtime win for the Isles.

You can read Matt on EyesOnIsles.com and follow them on twitter @EyesOnIslesFS.

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