As the New York Islanders head into the offseason, they find themselves in somewhat unfamiliar territory. Coming off a season in which they managed to crack the postseason party in the Eastern Conference, they’re in a position where they have pieces in place. Now it’s just a matter of making the right adjustments to get back into the playoffs next season.
One of the main issues that held this team back, particularly in the playoffs, was between the pipes. Evgeni Nabokov is a solid goaltender, and he had some brilliant moments during the regular season, but when it came to the playoffs, he did what he has done throughout his career: melted down.
Nabokov is a notoriously awful goaltender in the playoffs, which is why he’s never won a Stanley Cup. While the Islanders may have some interest in bringing him back, the priority should be to find a true starter, and perhaps try and bring back Nabokov in a backup role.
We already know that the Islanders are interested in upgrading in goal. We’ve heard them in connection with the likes of Roberto Luongo, and now they’re being mentioned as being in the hunt for the top young goaltender on the trade market: Jonathan Bernier.
Bernier has spent his days backing up Jonathan Quick in Los Angeles. He had asked for a trade last season, but with Quick coming off back surgery, the Kings held on to Bernier as insurance of sorts. And he actually outplayed the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner at points during the regular season.
Despite his current status as a backup, Bernier is a goaltender with loads of potential. Some even had figured he’d be better than Quick, before Quick jumped to the ranks of the league’s elite and won a title. In a dozen starts in 2013, Bernier posted a terrific 1.87 goals against average and a .922 save percentage.
He certainly has the makings of a very good goaltender. And that’s exactly what the Islanders need. They need to address other areas, mainly their depth, but goaltending is the priority. They likely have the young talent that the Los Angeles Kings might want in a deal, and as long as the price isn’t too outlandish, they should absolutely be right in the mix to try and bring in Jonathan Bernier.