New York Islanders: Jack Capuano a Casualty of Garth Snow’s Mistakes

Maybe Jack Capuano wasn’t the guy that was going to lead the New York Islanders to the next level. He has coached some good, but not great teams, that has done little to make noise in one of the better divisions in the league.

He has one of the most talented players in the game in John Tavares, but the Islanders’ captain hasn’t been able to lift the games of those around him enough to save Capuano’s job.

Tuesday Capuano became the second head coach to get the ax this season, following in the footsteps of Gerard

Tavares hasn't gotten the kind of support needed around him, and is on pace for his worst season since his rookie year. Photo Credit - Wikimedia Commons
Tavares hasn’t gotten the kind of support needed around him, and is on pace for his worst season since his rookie year. Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Gallant and Florida Panthers.

Like Gallant, Capuano has had success with his former team, leading the Islanders to back-to-back 100 points seasons and three playoff appearances overall. This year though has been a struggle, as New York have sunk to the bottom of the Eastern conference with a 17-17-8 record.

Assistant General Manager Doug Weight will take the reigns as interim coach.

The problem is General Manager Garth Snow, who has failed to put the right pieces around Tavares. The franchise superstar is currently on pace for his lowest full-season point total since his rookie season (on pace for 62 points).

The free agents he has brought in have not produced. Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera have combined to register 28 points, one less than what departing free agents Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen have put up with their new teams. Kyle Okposo has scored just as many points as Ladd and Chimera have in Buffalo with the Sabres.

Starting next year they are going to have nearly $7 million in cap space taken up on two fourth line players (over $10 million if Nikolay Kulemin plays with them), and have the underperforming Ladd for seven more years while he is already over 30.

Free agency isn’t the only thing that Snow has dropped the ball on. His recent drafts have failed to deliver the kind of help that is needed from the core he originally built.

Strome has failed to live up to his status as a top five pick. Photo Credit - Wikimedia Commons
Strome has failed to live up to his status as a top-five pick. Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

His first few drafts netted him Tavares, Travis Hamonic, Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson but recent years haven’t seen the same kind of impact. It’s still early, and Anthony Beauvillier has been able to stick around in a bottom six role, but the Islanders need more of an impact from the younger players.

Between 2012-2014 were especially discouraging, as the Islanders drafted four times in the first round and have gotten a total of 24 games from those picks. Griffin Reinhart is no longer in the organization and Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang have taken steps back in their development since their draft years.

Drafted fifth overall in 2011, Ryan Strome looked like a dynamic fit as the second center behind Tavares but has gone in the complete opposite direction since his 50 point season in 2014-2015. He scored nearly half of his career points that season in what equates to 35% of his total games played.

He is on a 28 point pace right now and is currently the team’s second line center out of necessity.

Capuano might not have been the answer, but he certainly wasn’t the problem. Snow has been, and this move – coming off of Capuano’s success the last two seasons – screams of a guy trying to save his job.

Playing in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan division, it might be hard to do anything but remain in the basement, and with most of the same team under contract next season, is there really any signs of things changing?

Not with Snow in charge.

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