Player We Love:
While he may have been a bit of a late-bloomer, Kyle Okposo has really come into his own down on Long Island. The Minnesota native had a career year in 2013-14, finishing just shy of point-per-game status after a lackluster 2012-13 campaign. The 26-year-old was the Islanders' best even-strength skater, with the highest Points/60 and most TOI on the team. Kyle finished top 5 on the team in Corsi 5v5, and 2nd on the Powerplay behind only John Tavares. And while he finished with a -9 rating on the year, it is the Islanders—their best plus/minus skater was Thomas Hickey, with only a +5 on the season.
He also made his teammates better. Pretty much all of them. Among teammates he skated alongside for 60 minutes or more, only Brock Nelson and Anders Lee had lower Corsi/60 ratings with Okposo on the ice beside them. Everyone else improved. And he's pretty clutch with the puck on his stick. Okposo tied the team lead with 4 game-winning goals in 2013-14, and during their 2013 Playoff series against the Penguins, Okposo literally made Fleury look silly. On more than one occasion. And then also scored some beauties as well.
And then there was the Olympian-sized snubitude by USA general manager David Poile. He was left off the final roster in favor of skaters like James van Riemsdyk and Blake Wheeler. JVR had 4 assists, but just one goal. And Wheeler had only one point—an assist—in his six games played. While the team didn't have any trouble putting up points during the qualifying round, they got blanked in their final two games, not making it to the three-tiered pedestal. Okposo probably could've helped in the scoring department.
While there aren't many Islanders to really hate...
We Guest Writer Steve Simmons Hates: Mikhail Grabovski
The former Capital (and more importantly former Maple Leaf) now dresses for the Islanders. And while he proved me wrong at times when he was a Leaf, he's shown his true colours since. He had just 35 points last year in Washington—35! Who cares that he had 27 points in his first 32 games played, or that he only played in 58 games and his points-per-game numbers are consistent with his career... that's still low!
The lone-wolf centreman was captain material in Toronto, and now he's playing for the Islanders, who many deemed the winners of the draft and free agency with Garth Snow at the helm. But with Nikolai Kulemin and Cory Conacher also joining the team, Grabovski is bound to be the biggest bust of the group. Grabo's Corsi60/5v5 numbers were in the bottom third of a team that doesn't play a lick of defence. He had a higher Points60/5v5 than both Ovechkin and Backstrom, but we'll just ignore that, because Corsi is King when it works for my argument.
He's a third-line centre that out-performs many teams' 2nd line centres, but his streakiness frustrates coaches. Because streakiness doesn't exist anywhere else in hockey. When Grabovski was on the ice this year, the Caps got 57.5% of the goals scored. But throw that stat out the window! Watch the game. Talk to the people who run the hockey team. This guy is worse than Dave Bolland, because Bolland has a Cup. He's also probably worse than Shane Hnidy, who also has a Cup.
Grabovski is a bad player. The Leafs are much better without him. They have Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri, and a few other guys not named Grabovski. Grabovski. What is that, anyway. Polish? It's probably Polish. Kessel and MacArthur were better with Grabo on the ice than with Bozak, but it doesn't matter. Grabo is a lone wolf. He'll never amount to anything. We don't need guys that can undress Dennis Seidenberg and roof it on Tim Thomas. Give me Dave Bolland for $5 million and half the points.
Oh, also Carlyse is a pretty good coach. And Reimer is a steal.
Ps. I'll be heading the Leafs' advanced statistics department. Gotta pick up Brent Burns. #2ndInTheLeague