THREE YEARS OF CABOOSE: A REVIEW
When the Islanders hired Caboose, they had been toiling at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division for some time and had been shrouded in controversy after trading their lottery pick and firing their former GM Aladeen. Three years later, Caboose's impact on the Islanders has been pronounced, but was it entirely positive? In this article, we will be examining the major trades, signings, and personnel decisions Caboose has made in his short tenure with the storied Islanders organisation.
Immediately upon being hired, Caboose felt the team needed to be built around the two Zetterqvist twins, Victor and Oscar. Despite their obvious potential, there were some questions about their NHL readiness. Caboose looked to bolster his top 6 in order to ensure that they would not be relied upon too heavily at such a young age.
to NYI Nathan Malmquist LW
to EDM Echael Aviani LW
While Malquist enjoyed early success with the Islanders, his production was matched by Aviani with the upstart Oilers. Both players have since cooled off, but Malmquist is older and more expensive. Edge Oilers.
to NYI Robert Eriksson G
to MIN 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick
Due to the controversial circumstances of Caboose's hiring (the veteran GM was plucked from the San Jose Sharks organisation mid draft), the league barred the Islanders from making any picks outside the first round. Due to these circumstances, this deal was a no brainer for the Islanders. Eriksson far exceeded his expectations and has cemented himself as a serviceable starter in the league. Edge Islanders.
to NYI Matus Kubik
to DET Hyun-Beom Kim
Once thought to be a crucial part of the Islanders future plans, Kim underwhelmed in his rookie season and was shipped off to Detroit, where he enjoyed an excellent sophomore year. Since then however, the one dimensional forward has stalled and was subsequently traded by the Red Wings. Meanwhile, Matus Kubik has emerged as one of the league's top young defenceman, and came up big for the Islanders this season. Edge Islanders.
to NYI 1st round pick, 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick, Silviu Lavoie
to CAR Matthew Barzal
While the jury is still out on this one, it is looking like it could be a landslide win for the Islanders. Barzal had his career worst statistical season for the Hurricanes, as the team sputtered to a 20th overall finish. The Islanders used this pick to draft Slovak phenom Viktor Kovac. They also picked up promising goaltending Patrick Thome with the 2nd, who projects to be a starter. Lavoie was subsequently traded. Tentative edge Islanders.
to NYI 1st round pick, 2nd round pick x 2, 3rd round pick x 2, Martin Christensen, Miroslav Pecko
to STL Cale Makar, Silviu Lavoie, Hughes Benn
Another recent, MASSIVE trade, it is easier to say that this one was a big loss for the Islanders. As difficult it is to get full value for a player of Makar's caliber, to include promising youngsters like Hughes Benn and Silviu Lavoie is inexcusable. Pecko has been a nice addition, but brings very little offensively. The Islanders used some of these picks to draft promising forward Leos Fotr, who projects as a 1st liner, and goalie Marcus Jespersen, who projects as another high end starter. While these are certainly good prospects, there is a good chance the Islanders never replace Makar and this move comes back to bite them. Edge Blues.
After being frozen out of the draft in his first year in charge of the organisation due to a scouting controversy, Islanders fans waited with baited breath for the 2028 draft, in which GM Caboose surprised everyone by going well off the board and drafting LD Jake Redmond 6th overall. Many scouts had Redmond listed as the 6th or 7th best D man available at the time, and other managers seemed perplexed by the move on the draft floor. Redmond made his NHL debut in a 6 game cameo last season, and expects to challenge for a roster spot this year. We will see if the smooth skating defenceman proves the critics wrong.
Also in this draft, the Islanders picked up defenceman Rene Kuka, who projects to be a bottom 4 guy long term. He is expected to make his NHL debut this season.
In an iconic moment for the Islanders organisation, GM Caboose slept through the draft and was assigned defenceman Jaret Fancy at 10th overall, despite C Alex Popov, the Islanders number 1 target, still being on the board. While Fancy looks like a legitimate top pairing defenceman, this move may come back to haunt the Islanders.
In the 2nd round, the Islanders picked up projected starter Patrick Thome, who should be a useful piece down the road.
This draft, the Islanders stole all the headlines. Armed with 4 1st round picks due to the Makar and Barzal trade, the Islanders ended up picking in the 1st round 5 times due to numerous draft day deals. Combine this with a stunning lottery win, and this draft appears to be a turning point for the organisation.
At 2nd overall, Caboose made the no brainer pick, drafting monster goaltender and future superstar Eric Byfuglien. This was the consensus choice after Buffalo went slightly off the board with their 1st overall pick.
At 10th overall, the Islanders went well off the board, drafting Slovak phenom Viktor Kovac. Scouts say he models his game off of superstar forward Marian Gaborik. This should be a slam dunk pick.
The Islanders then traded up to draft LW Leos Fotr at 21st overall. The Czech playmaker looks like a future 1st liner and should be able to provide Kovac with plenty of apples.
At 27th overall the Islanders surprisingly went with another goalie, picking Danish netminder Marcus Jespersen. The towering keeper projects as a high end starter and provides organisational competition between Byfuglien, Thome, and himself. You have to think a trade is coming though?
After acquiring the 30th overall pick, the Islanders selected LW Sniper Maxime Mifsud, another player who scouts think could be a 1st liner in the league.
In conclusion, the Islanders have struggled under GM Caboose, although many of these problems were inherited from his predecessor. He has made some blunders in the trade market and with some draft picks, but has made up for it with an absolute banger of a 2030 draft. The time has now come for the New York Islanders to turn the corner, and focus on competing in the cutthroat Metropolitan division.