After missing the playoffs for the second straight year Reuben Foster Jersey , and eighth time in the last 11, the New York Islanders head into the offseason with much work to be done.
The most important task is signing captain John Tavares, who is set to be a free agent this summer.
Tavares has said all along he hopes to be back with the only franchise he’s played for, but doesn’t know what will happen. However, with the season having ended less than 48 hours ago, he needs to take a breather first.
”Take some time to not even think about hockey for a few days,” Tavares said Monday. ”And then prepare for the offseason and training, and obviously the contract will come up here as well.”
Tavares, 27, just wrapped up the final year of a six-year, $33 million contract, and would be the top free agent available July 1. The face of the Islanders since they selected him No. 1 overall in the 2009 draft, Tavares had 37 goals and 47 assists this season, finishing a goal and an assist shy of the career highs he set in 2014-15.
”This is where I hope to be and I’ve stated that,” he said. ”Just have to take some time and figure out what I want to do.”
Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky and general manager Garth Snow have both repeatedly said they want Tavares to return Ronnie Stanley Jersey , and Snow reiterated that Monday.
”We want to be in a situation where he has the Stanley Cup in his hand, wearing an Islanders jersey, and we want him to retire as an Islander,” Snow said.
Ledecky read a statement in which he declined to address the futures of any player, or the statuses of Snow and coach Doug Weight, saying the team was ”committed to long-term success,” and defined that as ”competing every year for the Stanley Cup and eventually winning a fifth ring.”
He added: ”For the past season, as owners we have failed. We sincerely apologize to our fans. We want to express that our ownership group is totally committed to winning and providing the resources to do just that.”
The Islanders finished 35-37-10 despite getting off to a strong start in which they won 15 of their first 24 games.
However, injuries to defensemen Calvin de Haan and Johnny Boychuk started them on a tailspin in which they lost 30 of their final 45 games (15-24-6).
There were some bright spots, led by Mathew Barzal’s 22 goals and 63 assists that make him the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. Also, Anders Lee had the franchise’s first 40-goal season since Jason Blake in 2006-07, and Josh Bailey had career bests of 18 goals and 53 assists.
Some other things to know as the Islanders head into the offseason:
IMPROVING THE DEFENSE
Finding a way to improve the defense needs to be the second priority this summer – after retaining Tavares. The Islanders finished eighth in the league in scoring with 261 goals, but gave up a league-worst 293. They were also last in shots allowed and penalty-killing,
Nick Leddy had an unseemly minus-42 rating, the league’s worst since Pittsburgh’s Rico Fata (minus-46) in 2003-04. Calvin de Haan was lost for the season in December and is also set to be free agent. On the bright side Harry Carson Jersey , Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, both 23, established themselves as solid young defensemen.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier, both 20, formed a solid second line with Jordan Eberle, 27, combining for 180 points to complement the top line of Lee-Tavares-Bailey (217).
Eberle had 25 goals and 34 assists in his first season in New York, and Beauvillier had a breakout second season in the NHL with 21 goals and 15 assists.
WHO’S IN GOAL?
Thomas Greiss is the only goalie signed for next season, with Jaroslav Halak set to be an unrestricted free agent. Greiss dealt with an injury down the stretch and finished 13-8-2 with one shutout and a 3.82 goals-against average.
Halak was 20-26-6 with a shutout and a 3.16 GAA in the final season of a four-year deal. The 32-year-old had a solid first season, going 38-17-4 with a 2.43 GAA in 2014-15, but totaled just 50 wins the last three years.
With the Islanders having made the playoffs just four times in 12 years since Snow was hired as the GM, he was asked if he deserved to stay on the job.
”Yeah,” he said. ”When I took over this position it was a situation where it was an all-out rebuild. … Now we’re in a situation where we feel we can compete for a Stanley Cup.
”You can go through the lineup and have a pretty common theme of successful stories of where we’ve built through the draft. And I think our prospect pool at this point in time is impressive as well.”
HOME AND HOME
The team’s struggles this season were punctuated by losses at Barclays Center, where they were 59-26-16 since moving to the Brooklyn arena before the 2015-16 season.
However, they lost 15 of their final 22 games there to finish with a losing record on home ice for the first time since 2013-14.
Now Brandon Fusco Jersey , the Islanders will be splitting home games between Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseum – their former home – for at least the next three seasons until a new arena is built at Belmont Park.
Follow Vin Cherwoo at Malcolm Jenkins went back to raising his fist during the national anthem and Chris Long again put his arm around him as the teammates continue trying to raise awareness about racial inequality, social injustices and systematic oppression.
Landry Jones and Josh Dobbs each tossed touchdown passes and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 31-14 Thursday night in the preseason opener.
But Jenkins' decision to resume his demonstration after stopping last December drew most of the attention as the defending Super Bowl champions returned to the field.
"Everybody is waiting for what the league is going to do," Jenkins said. "We won't let it stop what we stand for. I was very encouraged last year with the direction and that obviously took a different turn.
"I think it's important to utilize the platform as we can because for whatever reason, we have framed this demonstration in a negative light and often players have to defend why we feel the need to fight for everyday Americans and in actuality we're doing the right thing."
The league and the players' union have yet to announce a policy for this season regarding demonstrations during the anthem after the league initially ordered everyone to stand on the sideline when "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played, or remain in the locker room.
Cornerback De'Vante Bausby also raised his fist during the anthem, and defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel and walked toward the bench while it played. It appeared all the Steelers stood.
"Malcolm is always a guy who is doing the work in the community, backing up whatever he's doing," Long said.
The Eagles rested several starters, including quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. Nate Sudfeld threw a pair of touchdown passes and two interceptions.
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown sat for the Steelers and Le'Veon Bell still hasn't signed his franchise tender.
Jones completed all four of his passes for 83 yards, including a 71-yard TD pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster in the first quarter. Smith-Schuster made a leaping catch over Rasul Douglas at the 33 and ran untouched to the end zone.
Fitzgerald Toussaint had a 3-yard TD run and a 2-point conversion to give Pittsburgh a 15-8 lead. Dobbs threw a 29-yard TD pass to Damoun Patterson late in the second quarter.
"We moved the ball successfully," Dobbs said. "It felt good to be out there."
Sudfeld threw a perfect strike for a 63-yard TD to Shelton Gibson and fired a 15-yard TD pass to rookie Dallas Goedert. He finished 10 of 14 for 140 yards.
"I just ran my route and when I looked back, Nate stepped up and scrambled to my side and was able to hit me," Goedert said. "A great play by him."
Wentz still hasn't been cleared for contact after having surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee last December. Foles, the Super Bowl MVP, has missed a few practices with muscle spasms in his neck and shoulder.
Mason Rudolph Jermon Bushrod Jersey , a third-round pick competing with Jones and Dobbs for the backup job to Roethlisberger, was 7 of 12 for 101 yards.
"He did a solid job in all areas," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
Steelers: Safety Terrell Edmunds, a first-round pick, had three tackles. Wide receiver James Washington, second-rounder, caught two passes for 44 yards.
Eagles: Goedert, a second-round pick and the team's first selection, had four catches for 66 yards and one TD. He'll get plenty of opportunities as the second tight end.
Ryan Shazier joined the defense in Pittsburgh's pregame huddle, just 11 months after spinal stabilization surgery. Shazier is out for the season.
WELCOME TO FOOTBALL
Eagles rookie Jordan Mailata, an Australian rugby player drafted in the seventh round, got beat for a strip sack on his first series in the NFL. Mailata began the second half at left tackle.
HONORING FORMER EAGLES
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie announced at halftime that two-time All-Pro defensive end Clyde Simmons and three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Seth Joyner will be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame on Sept. 23.
Steelers: Visit the Green Bay Packers next Thursday.
Eagles: Visit the New England Patriots next Thursday.
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