Many Islanders fans have been clamoring for a change at the head coaching position for a few years. Yesterday, the Islanders finally complied with this request when they fired Jack Capuano after 7 seasons as the head coach. Doug Weight will become the interim coach for the remainder of the season.
With Capuano gone, some are speculating as to how secure general manager Garth Snow’s job currently is. It’s no secret that Snow, like Capuano, has been on the hot seat for quite awhile. Many of Snow’s big draft picks as the Isles general manager have ended up being busts or inconsistent. After a strong 2014-15 season, former top prospect Ryan Strome has regressed immensely, to the point of feeling more like a waste of a roster spot. Brock Nelson seems to be the Lucas Duda of the Islanders in that it feels as if he scores 10 goals in the span of two weeks and then going a month without a goal. Josh Bailey has never lived up to the expectations expected of him when he was drafted by the Islanders as the 9th overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft. Perhaps one of the few prospects that has been able to live up to expectations to a degree has been Anders Lee, who seems to be improving his game this season.
Over his years as general manager, Snow has also made a few questionable decisions. One of the most infamous decisions made by Snow was when he traded Matt Moulson and a first and second round pick for Thomas Vanek in his contract season. While Vanek played well alongside John Tavares, Snow was unable to come to an agreement on a long-term contract with Vanek, resulting in him being traded for just a conditional second round pick and prospect Sebastian Collberg. However, this missed opportunity turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Since Vanek was traded away, his performance has declined immensely. Additionally, the second round pick the Isles got in return was used to draft current top prospect Joshua Ho-Sang. But these fortunate results are just based on pure luck.
Snow has been dealing with an extra obstacle when it comes to signing free agents. Many players, like many Islanders fans, don’t like the idea of playing in Brooklyn. Players like the aforementioned Vanek and Frans Nielson pointed at the Isles moving to Brooklyn as a big turn-off from re-signing with the team. Nielson even took less money this past off-season from Detroit because he didn’t like Brooklyn. A change in scenery may prove to be helpful for the Isles in signing free agents. A move to Queens or back to Long Island doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility at this point. The new team owners have been looking around for a new place to play. One option gaining some ground has been for them to move in at the empty lots next door to Citi Field.
Another big mistake made by Garth Snow was giving up on top prospect Nino Niederreiter and trading him to the Wild for Cal Clutterbuck. While Clutterbuck has emerged as a great player and leader for the Isles, Niederreiter has emerged as a star player for the Wild, living up to his potential as a top prospect. Even at the time of the trade, many were criticizing Snow about this trade.
The 2016 off-season moves by Snow could end up being the final nail in the coffin. Snow couldn’t re-sign Frans Nielson, and made the mistake of not being willing to offer contracts to Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo. Snow probably could’ve kept Martin if he wanted to, but let him walk. With the departure of fan-favorite Matt Martin, the Isles have been lacking in toughness, and their 4th line has gone from arguably the best in the league to one of the worst. The Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd signing have been nothing short of a disaster. The Ladd contract may prove to be the worst contract made by the Islanders since the Rick DiPietro contract. Ladd has looked terrible in his first season as an Islander, with just 8 goals and 4 assists, with a -10 rating. It is worth remembering that the Isles are stuck with Ladd for the next 6 seasons after this one, signing a 7-year, $38.5 million deal with the Isles prior to this season.
I hope and expect Garth Snow to be relieved of his duties as general manager of the Islanders. According to sources, the new Islanders owners have been in search of new team executives. It is likely that the next move by the owners and new executive(s) would be to find a good replacement for Garth Snow as general manager. It seems as though the new Islanders owners, like the fans, have just about run out of patience with Garth Snow.