The most wonderful time of the year is coming. October is swiftly approaching which signals the start of the NHL season. The World Cup of Hockey will be making its triumphant return very shortly as exhibition games have already been underway. Teams from across the globe (or however the NHL tries to market it) will be battling it out to find who the best in the world truly is.
What will be most interesting though is seeing how the tournament will affect the upcoming NHL season. Fan bases and organizations alike are bound to watch with caution as the injury bug seemingly always hits someone. This September “big game” platform does however give the participants a chance to really get into mid-season gear before the season even starts.
The New York Islanders will be sending 4 players to the World Cup. Obviously John Tavares will be there representing Canada as well as Nikolay Kulemin (Russia), Jaroslav Halak (Europe), and Thomas Greiss (Europe). Coach Jack Capuano will also be there representing the USA as one of the assistant coaches.
For all the players, the tournament will mean something different. It will be important for Kulemin to get off on the right track early and to really get himself ready for the season. He struggled offensively throughout the season last year and there are a lot of young, hungry players trying to take away his ice time. At the end of last season it really looked like he was battling through some injuries and he never really looked quite right. He’ll need to go out in this tournament and prove that he is 100% and ready to contribute more for the Isles this year. Maybe he’ll even turn some heads and become an asset the Isles could move.
Tavares will also be there trying to prove himself although not quite for the same reason as Kulemin. JT will be there proving to the world why he is one of the best in the game of hockey. Team Canada always goes in with the goal to win it all. Their lineup is always stacked and they are always the favorite. John surely wants to win it all and to be one of the key reasons why they do. The tournament will just be another accomplishment to add to his career when all is said and done.
Halak and Greiss are playing for arguably more than anything. How these two play could very well have a huge affect on how the Islanders goaltending tandem looks going forward. Halak and Greiss both have arguments as to why they should be the starting goaltender of the Islanders this upcoming season. Halak was brought in to be the clear cut number 1 and has been solid with the Isles throughout his tenure with the team. Greiss on the other hand, seized the starters job when the opportunity arose due to Halak’s injury, and won the team its first playoff series in over two decades.
If one of these two greatly outshine the other one it could give the Isles an inside track on who to start. Halak outplaying Greiss could potentially help the Islanders make a deal if they so choose to. Halak was very outspoken last season when it came to the 3 goalie situation, and that situation is still in effect. With the Berube extension and Greiss’ post season performance, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Isles move Halak’s contract to make room for some more money. If that happens it gives New York a lot more leniency with the cap to make moves during the season.
Only time will tell what the Islanders decide to do, but for now let’s enjoy some hockey.