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Islanders still need the tools to re-build

Adding the top pick in the NHL draft does not instantly make you a better team -- but it certainly helps. In the case of the New York Islanders, the team is technically better than they were last season yet still find themselves in once again at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings (which is exceptionally impressive this season, considering the overall competitive level in the East).

Yet Islanders coach Scott Gordon is happy with his team’s progress, saying that the franchise needs time and stability as they work to improve. And when you compare what the Islanders are doing -- seemingly in the midst of a rebuild every single year -- to what the New Jersey Devils have done, then you start to really see how big of a challenge lies ahead for GM Garth Snow and his coach.

Gordon says not to compare the two, however.

“The Devils are re-tooling. We’re trying to rebuild with a master plan of winning a Stanley Cup,” said Gordon. “We’re not re-tooling. We’re still trying to find the tools.

“With all the changes in coaches and managers here, there hasn’t been a stretch of continuity. We haven’t deviated from the approach. Garth (Snow) hasn’t traded any players in a panic. We haven’t given up something that we’re going to miss.”

“I see a level of consistency,” said the coach. “The power play and the penalty kill...there’s no question we’ve got to get better. Five-on-five, we don’t give up a lot. With a young team that could use a lot of practice time, and in a year with a condensed scehdule where there hasn’t been much, I’ve been happy with what I see in our work.

“You have to remember, the roster didn’t change a whole lot - except for the goaltenders. Now, for me, it’s about finding a few missing pieces to fill in.”

Personally, it’s frustrating when teams don’t give their coaching staffs time to actually work on improving the team and they are fired after 1-2 seasons of frustration. I understand the wont to win immediately, yet longevity and consistency with the coaches allows players time to respect and buy into the system they’re teaching.

The Islanders have the chance to get another top three pick in this year’s draft, and some re-working of the roster should make this a much different team next season. Is there a possibility that the Islanders are this year’s Chicago Blackhawks in four years? We shall find out. If not, then they’ll be a mediocre team with a couple of wasted draft picks. Not that it’s ever happened before.