Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Roster Backlash

The most controversial aspect of yesterday's roster announcement for most Islanders fans was the inclusion of Andy Hilbert over Jeff Tambellini. I'll admit that I too was hoping to get a better taste of Tambellini's offensive potential on our second line this season. And I'm not convinced we still won't see that at some point this year. But for now, let's get down from the ledge and put everything into perspective.


Everyone is quick to point to the numbers and say that it took 25 games for Hilbert to score his first goal last year, and that he finished the full NHL season with only 28 points. What people are quick to forget is that he was a key member of what was our consistently best line. Granted, Hunter and Sillinger played more integral roles towards that success, but Hilbert was a big part of it. He's a solid two-way player and was often matched up against the opposition's top line. His perceived lack of offense should not overshadow these less tangible contributions. This year his defensive skills will come into play even more, now that he's on as line with the offensive-minded Satan and Vasicek.

On the other end, you have Tambellini and his 30 goals in 50 games for Bridgeport. Obviously these are good numbers, but AHL success doesn't always translate to the big show. If you were to trend out his stats from his 23 NHL games last year into a full season, he would end up with 32 points. Let's keep that in mind before we all get too crazy with the decisions that were made. It's not like we sent down a guy that was averaging a point-per-game at the NHL level.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of Tambellini and from a goal-scoring perspective I have little doubt he can produce more than Hilbert. But there's more to the game than just scoring, and Hilbert brings more of those intangibles. At this point, before the first puck is dropped on the 2007-2008 season, I trust Nolan and Snow to make the right decision for the team. Hopefully as we get into the season, I won't have reason to question their judgment. Hope to see everyone out at the Coliseum on Saturday. Let's go Islanders!

7 comments:

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Anonymous said...

I thought Vasicek was supposed to be a two-way center? I never heard him referred to as offensive minded.

I worry about this move with Tambellini, it could stunt his development. Developing young players is the Isles biggest problem in my opinion.

Mike Carey said...

I think the way Nolan is looking to use Vasicek with Satan is going to be a bit different than the way Vasicek has played in the past. I'm only basing this on a few quotes from Nolan, though. I think he saw good chemisty between the two offensively and is looking to capitalize on that as much as possible by allowing both players to be a bit more aggressive. As a result, they need a responsible linemate to be more focused on the two-way game. Again, all else equal I would have preferred seeing Tambellini on the line, but I trust Nolan. Let's face it, in his one year here he got a lot more out of our team than anyone expected. I think despite his tendency to favor more veteran players, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt for at least a handful of games.

Tim Marino said...

Hey Mike. Good meeting you and everyone else last night. I would have to debate you on Tambellini's projection. He averaged about 7 minutes a game last year. 32 points over a season averaging 7 minutes ain't too shabby. If he was on a scoring line and playing consistent minutes with consistent (and offensive) linemates, I think his production would go to at least 50 points. What do you think?

Mike Carey said...

Thanks Tim. Likewise it was good meeting you and hope to see everyone at more games during the year. I agree with you that it's impossible to project a guy that has limited ice time. But I guess that's exactly my point. It seemed so many fans were overreacting to the fact that Tambs didn't make the team. All I'm saying is, he's an unproven commodity. I think the coaches and Snow are in the best position to evaluate the readiness of unproven prospects (better than the average fan), so I'm willing to be patient. Plus, I've been impressed with Hilbert through the first 2 games. Maybe it's due to the desperation of playing with Tambellini breathing down his neck for a spot, but regardless it's paying off for the team.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Tambellini will get his shot against the Caps now that Sim is out of the lineup for at least a game.

Mike Carey said...

It'll be interesting to see what happens if Tambs has success while Sim is hurt. I guess these are good problems for a coach and GM to have.