New York Islanders: Cole Coskey is the Next Big Thing

Cole Coskey, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders drafted forward Cole Coskey in the 7th round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. After being drafted, Coskey would return to his OHL team, the Saginaw Spirit. Coskey broke out this year and put himself on the radar for Islanders fans. The Islanders did not offer Coskey a contract after drafting him, but just recently, they did. The Islanders have a gem on their hands unless their AHL coach Brent Thompson ruins another prospect.

Time with Saginaw Spirit

Cole Coskey is a huge part of Saginaw’s history. Coskey has been a part of the organization since he was 15 years old. Dave Drinkill, the general manager of Saginaw, said, “Coskey grew up right in front of our very eyes.” Not only did Coskey have a great 2019, but he set records for Saginaw. Coskey is the leader in games played all-time for Saginaw with 302. Coskey is also third all-time in points for Saginaw with 235, third all-time in goals for Saginaw with 106, and 4th all-time in assists with 129. Do not expect this kind of production in the NHL or even the AHL, but it’s still very exciting to see.

When will Coskey be Ready?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Prospects, especially late-round picks, vary on their development time. This also depends on the coaching of the AHL team. Brent Thompson is not the guy for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Thompson has done players like Kieffer Bellows, Mitch Vande Sompel, and Parker Wotherspoon, all a disservice.  Despite this, Coskey is a very solid two-way winger, and that will only help him shine in Trotz’s system. If Coskey can keep up his production, he will be an undeniable pull-up. At best, Coskey is a Nazem Kadri/Erik Haula. At worst, he’s a Michael Dal Colle. I give it 2-3 years before he’s fully ready for the NHL.

Conclusion

The thing with the OHL is that it’s not hard to be good. Michael Dal Colle, who was supposed to be the next great winger for the Isles, recorded 95 points in 2013. Dal Colle is a nothing player now. This isn’t discounting how good Coskey could be, though. It’s merely just a “don’t get your hopes high up.” Cole Coskey is a diamond in the rough for this Islanders team, and Islanders fans will hopefully get to see him play soon.

New York Islanders: 2 Key Factors to Beating the Capitals

Alex Ovechkin

The New York Islanders will face the Washington Capitals in round 1 of the 2020 NHL playoffs. Most, if not all, Islanders fans wanted this matchup. No matter how cold the Boston Bruins are, they are still the toughest team to play. The Islanders have a real shot of beating the Capitals and advancing to round 2 for the second straight year. There are two keys to this series that the Islanders must complete for them to win.

Stopping Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin could be 60 years old and barely be able to skate anymore, but still, he’d be one of the most dangerous players on the ice. Ovechkin has been playing in the NHL for 19 years, and he’s still one of the most explosive players on the ice. He has had one shot that no goalie/defense could ever stop. Ovechkin goes right into the left circle and receives the pass from the defenseman at the point, boom he’s scoring that every time. There is literally a player on the ice whose specific job is to stop Ovi from getting the puck there. The Islanders must not let Ovechkin tee up his wrister if they want to win the series.

Not Getting too Fancy

The Islanders have a tendency not to take a billion shots, but instead, just take one “perfect” shot. The Florida Panthers powerplay works because they shoot for rebounds and better chances. The Islanders just pass it around for 2 minutes and take one shot from the point. The Islanders need to take 35-40 shots a game, hope for a rebound and hope that the guy you pay $7 million dollars will tap it in. The Capitals are a good team, but no good team can stop a rebound shot when the goalie is out of position.

Conclusion

The Islanders have a tough challenge ahead of them. The Capitals have Ovi, Backstrom, Vrana, Oshie, Carlson, and Holtby. It will be interesting to see Barry Trotz match up his guys.

Examining Potential Hub Cities for New York Rangers Playoff Games

New York Rangers

With the announcement that the New York Rangers have qualified for the NHL’s post-season, the only thing that everyone is waiting for is: where will the Blueshirts play these games? On Tuesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman listed the 10 cities currently under consideration to host games: seven in the United States (Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Pittsburgh), and three in Canada (Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver).

The listing by countries is intentional. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says that in a perfect world, the league’s return-to-play plan would feature one hub city on either side of the U.S.-Canada border. Daly made these comments while appearing on Sportsnet 590 (Canada) The Fan’s Lead Off show. Daly mentioned that the city’s infrastructure as a primary consideration that will impact the safety of all involved.

On this topic, Daly stated that “the arena setup, and hotels around the arena, and secure transportation to and from the hotels to the arena — what does that look like? And is that a place where we can keep the players and the club staff and league staff all safe in a bubble-type environment.”

Since a decision on which two hub cities will be selected is expected to come in about three to four weeks, let’s take a look and see how these sites compare as future hubs cities for the New York Rangers

Las Vegas and Edmonton

Many experts have had these two cities listed as top choices for a while. Both cities easily check off on all the factors that Daly mentioned in his interview. Edmonton has gone out of their way to make arrangements so that the players can have some things to do during their off time, such as setting up secure golf courses and arrange big screens in outdoor areas for movies and video games. Las Vegas, of course, has the capacity to do the same and the NHL would have the city to themselves as it appears that the NBA will be heading to Orlando. However, Edmonton and the other Canadian cities have one issue: Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine.

During his interview, Daly mentioned that it will be difficult for the NHL to select a Canadian city because the 14-day quarantine for the teams traveling in would be kind of a non-starter to be able to play in 2020. But recently Alberta Province Premier Jason Kenney asked the Canadian government to exempt NHL players and personnel from the country’s travel protocol to facilitate Edmonton’s bid to be a hub city in the NHL’s potential return to play. In his letter, Kenney said that the Government of Alberta believes there are effective strategies in place to mitigate any risk for our province if such an exemption was granted.

Both Las Vegas and Edmonton have also had better COVID-19 numbers than many other areas in the two countries.

Columbus

Nationwide Arena, once the former home of current Ranger Artemi Panarin, would also make a nice destination for the Rangers. Besides being closer, the Rangers have played a few more games each year here versus Las Vegas or Edmonton. Also checking everything in the NHL’s list, the area surrounding Nationwide Arena, called the Arena District could serve as a quarantine type social hub. This area is a mixed-use neighborhood developed by Nationwide Realty Investors featuring restaurants, bars, offices, and residential buildings. It also features a more temperate climate than Las Vegas, as making sure proper ice conditions during summer months may be one drawback for playing in Vegas.

Minneapolis/St. Paul

The Wild’s Excel Center would also seem to have everything needed for the safety of the Ranger’s players and staff. Also having a more moderate temperature in the summer, it should be able to maintain it’s ice better than Las Vegas could. The arena is on the same block as the RiverCentre convention facility and other features that can assist the league and teams with maintaining their bubble.

Dallas and Pittsburgh

Both would be nice places and Pittsburgh does have a more familiar feel. Pittsburgh may get a bit of a nod as a place east of the Mississippi River if the NHL does not want to put both hubs out west. It is awfully hot in Dallas in the summer, maintaining proper ice might be an issue.

Toronto and Vancouver

Both cities would seem to be more of a back-up choice if something happens to Edmonton. Both cities would work well, and Toronto could be under consideration as the Eastern hub if the league wants to go east-west on their choices. Toronto would also be a more familiar location for the Rangers. Vancouver has some issues as its provincial health minister says they will not bend rules for sports.

Los Angeles and Chicago

These two cities may have more problems with their cities’ coronavirus pandemic situations than others mentioned in the United States. LA may be a wild-card though as with the Kings not participating in the playoffs, this would truly be a neutral site hub for the playoff rounds. Many teams in the west would not be especially happy about going to Chicago to face the Blackhawks in their home arena, regardless if they are just the #12 seed.

Could a Mid-May Playoff Include the New York Rangers?

Brady Skjei, New York Rangers

On Monday, the NHL gave the New York Rangers and the rest of the league’s players permission to return home. Monday’s decision marks a big change in the NHL’s initial plan when the season was paused last Thursday, which instructed players to stay in their NHL city to self-quarantine. It was the hope that a return to the ice could be quicker, but recent events and CDC guidelines are pushing everything back. The good news is that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently state that: “My hope and expectation is that we can finish the season in some form, award the Stanley Cup and then be able to move on feeling that we accomplished that goal of finishing the season for our fans.” The big question is, what playoff scenario would include the New York Rangers?

The New York Rangers would be included in a 24 team playoff format

This appears to be the favorite among many NHL executives as it deals with a couple of important issues. First is this format would allow teams who were within striking distance to be in the playoffs. The second is, from a financially practical standpoint, it would allow two of the biggest TV markets into the playoff. The New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks would be included in this kind of format.

The concept isn’t without seeding challenges. Teams had played an uneven number of games when the regular season was paused last week, so points percentage would have to be used. Regardless of the league uses division or conference preferences, the New York Rangers would be the 11th seed. Depending on the seeding preferences, their opponent would either be the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Carolina Panthers.

A 16 team playoff would eliminate the New York Rangers

I won’t spend a lot of time on this one as even if they have some kind of play-in for the seventh or eighth seed, this would eliminate the Blueshirts. This one would probably only be adopted if the 24 team playoff would take too long.

It appears the 24-team, play-in style playoff format would fit the NHL as it would be designed to maximize revenues. It would also include the three vital markets of New York, Chicago, and Montreal. This format also includes every team that was reasonably in contention from a regular season that will almost certainly be halted at 85-per-cent completion.