Coming into this years training camp, the question for the New York Islanders won’t be who the starting netminder is going to be, rather, who is going to be the backup? Its a given that Evgeni Nabokov is the starting goalie, especially after signing the one year, $3 million deal. That, and the 23-win season he posted a year ago, makes the strong showing. The question going into this year is, will the backup role fall to Andres Nilsson or Kevin Poulin? Nilsson is a good netminder, I’m not taking anything away from his talents. The logical choice, as far as I can tell, would be Poulin.
This is no disrespect to Nilsson, who is a good goalie. His problem is something he couldn’t control. Last year he had an illness to deal with, so he wasn’t able to get much playing time during the season. That allowed Poulin to get valuable playing time, which will help him this season. Nilsson will, more than likely, start the year in the minors. This means that Poulin gets the nod as the backup to Nabokov. Possibly having Poulin in the role of backup will be beneficial to both him and the Islanders.
Nabokov is the Islanders No. 1 netminder. As good as Nabokov is, however, there is no way possible he can play more than 60+ games this season. His age is a factor, as he’s 39, going on 40. For the Islanders to have a shot at the playoffs again this season, there has to be a reliable backup in place from the start of the year. It’s something the Islanders have been lacking the past few seasons. Now they have a solid backup in place in Poulin. Both Poulin and Nilsson are the future of the franchise in goal, and they have to start really establishing themselves.
Poulin did a pretty good job at that last year, but this year he has an even better chance to do so. Poulin is still a young guy, at only 23 years old. He has 21 games under his belt, standing at a 7-9-1 record, as compared to Nilsson, who has played only four games in the big leagues. Poulin is quick, has a good glove hand, and has great side-to-side movement. Poulin has a style of play that can really frustrate shooters, when given the chance.
Both Poulin and Nilsson will get their chances to crack the big leagues, but all signs point to Poulin being the backup to Nabby this year.
What do you guys think?