Czuczman Adds to Isles Defensive Corps
The addition of Lake Superior State defenceman Kevin Czuczman adds another impressive prospect to the Islanders blue line.
A week after Isles fans were left enraged by the return the club received for Thomas Vanek, it’s a signing that should give people some hope; albeit hope for the future.
Because that’s what the Islanders are selling – hope.
After qualifying for the play-offs last season, expectations were high going in to the year. But a combination of injuries, a poor start and an inability to hold on to a lead have derailed the clubs season.
Vanek’s arrival helped boost the offence; but the clubs frailties along the blue line, and between the pipes, were highlighted all too often during this campaign, to the frustration of many.
Whilst the club might explore the goaltending market in the summer, reality is that the franchise is back to selling ‘the future’ again, and the hope that things will be better.
It’s not likely to be something easily accepted by many fans, already tired of years in the basement waiting for the next big prospect to mature. The team now appears to be well set offensively, with one of the worlds best players in John Tavares, but fans are now being asked to remain patient again.
A quick look at the teams defensive prospects, of which Czuczman is now one, does give reason to be optimistic though.
The 6’3″ D man will join up with the Islanders right off the bat, skating alongside 22-year old Calvin DeHaan, Travis Hamonic and Matt Donovan. That’s four D men, all under the age of 24.
Hamonic’s reputation has grown rapidly over the past two years, with good reason, whilst DeHaan has been a revelation since being called up from Bridgeport. Throw in Griffin Reinhart, 2013 draft pick Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech and the defensive concerns that have dogged the franchise for some time now feel a little less worrying.
There isn’t a quick fix to the defensive problems the team has. There are few quality D men available via trade or free agency, so development is likely to be the only way forward. But the team does have some prospects you could legitimately becoming part of the clubs top 4; which is what they sorely need right now – especially with Lubomir Visnovsky in the back nine of his career.
It’s not hard to appreciate why large swathes of the fan base are frustrated by the prospect of several more years of waiting for this club to be a serious contender again; but the Isles have a healthy group of prospects to pin their hopes on. Which is more than some clubs can say…