Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Savetheisles Chats With WFAN's Daniel Friedman

Next up we had the chance to chat with WFAN Islanders Columnist Daniel Friedman.  We would like to thank Dan very much for taking the time to talk with us.  If you don't follow Dan on twitter already you can do so here.

STI: For those who might not be familiar with you, could you provide a little background information about yourself?

DF: This is my second year covering the Islanders for WFAN.  Previously, I covered the Isles and Rangers as an intern for Stan Fischler.  I've been blogging about the team for nearly four years now.

STI: How would you grade the Islanders off season?

DF: I would say they get an A-.  Addressed the goaltending in impressive fashion, brought in reinforcements on offense and a few wild cards to create competition in training camp.  I would still like to see Snow bring in some help on defense and clear up the logjam on offense, because right now there are just too many players on one-way contracts.  At this rate, someone's not going to make the team that should - whether that is Anders Lee, Cory Conacher, or Colin McDonald, and that's before you consider their overcrowded blueline.

STI: Do you think Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski will be able to get back to their more offensive numbers from a couple years ago?  Or would the Islanders be expecting too much to expect them to put up numbers similar to those again?

DF: I don't know if they'll duplicate their previous numbers, but I would expect that, at least for Kulemin, the stats should improve.  Grabovski's generally been productive, but Kulemin seems to have really suffered ever since the two were separated.  I think if the Islanders get a combined 90-100 points out of these two they've done well.  If they get more, obviously that's even better.

STI: Anyone who follows you on twitter knows that you are a big supporter of Ryan Strome.  What role do you see for him on the team this season?  What expectations do you have for him?

DF: It's difficult to say right now, particularly because he's playing on the wing and there's such a logjam on the depth chart.  If I had to guess, he'll join Grabovski and Kulemin on the second line, which I think would be a good spot for him.  He'd be with two forwards who play his brand of hockey - speed, skill, and finesse.  In terms of expectations, he's still young so that has to be kept in perspective, but I think at least 41 points (0.5 points per-game) is a reasonable request.

STI: In one of your recent columns for WFAN you spoke about the new owners and how two keys things they face as they come in are providing a commitment to winning and swaying the Long Island fan about the move to Brooklyn.  How do you feel it would be best for them to do these things?

DF: The best way to demonstrate a commitment to winning is not necessarily by spending the most money or making the flashiest acquisitions or hires.  It's by showing you have a good reading of the organization's pulse.  That means, you're putting the right people in key positions and you're making moves when they're necessary.  Of course, you do need to be financially committed and give your front office the flexibility to do as they see fit, but that doesn't mean quite what some people think it does.  As far as the move to Brooklyn is concerned, I think these new owners have to show that they're committed to preserving the team's heritage and that they're going to work with the LIRR and Barclays Center to ensure better transportation methods for those who live further out on Long Island.  That would be a good start.

STI: In that column you also talked about the Andrew Barroway situation.  Ultimately, what do you believe ends up happening with that entire situation?  Do you think the cash payoff will be enough for him to go away?  Or will this be something we hear about for a couple years before it is settled?

DF: I think he eventually gets his 10m breakup fee and we don't hear of this again.  As for how long that process will take, that's not something we know enough to speculate on right now.  All we know is that Barroway's ticked off and he wants some form of compensation.

STI: What was your reaction when you read the article from claiming that Wang had a deal to sell the team to a third different party?

DF: It didn't shock me, to be honest.  It's never one group that's "in line" to buy these franchises, you usually have several groups trying to strike that deal.  Generally, these other groups pull out until one (sometimes two) is left standing and it ends up buying the team.  But in the Islanders' case, the process didn't quite go that way - at least according to Barroway and this other group that's surfaced.  The important thing to keep in mind here is that, two years from now, the outcome will likely be the same regardless of these other developments.  Ledecky and Malkin will be the majority owners, Wang will own a minority stake.  The rest will work itself out.

STI: With this being the final season at the Coliseum, do you have a favorite moment or memory that sticks out for you in your time at the arena?

DF: I don't know if I have one favorite memory; it's really a collective group of memories, it's my entire childhood.  I grew up playing and watching hockey and was at the Coliseum on so many occasions.  It's the place where I'd go to dream and to study the players, their movements, their strategies, the place where I'd go to appreciate their ability to play the game I loved at such a high level.  I'll never forget those times shared with family and friends at the old barn.  If there's one moment for me though, it was on Presidents Day in 2007.  The Islanders and Penguins kept trading goals until Mike Sillinger won the game with 26 seconds left in the third period.  The Pens hadn't lost in regulation in over a month, and the win propelled the Isles to a hot streak that ultimately led to a playoff berth.

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