Roster Report

The Sports Xchange
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MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
John Tavares, hands down, was the team's top player throughout the 82-game slate, improving his skating and his consistency en route to virtually recording one point per game (81 in 82 appearances). The third-year center became the first Isles player to exceed 80 points since Ziggy Palffy in 1997-98.

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER
Michael Grabner used a late scoring flurry once the Isles were eliminated from playoff contention to reach 20 goals. But the Isles needed far more production earlier in the season from Grabner, who inked a five-year, $15 million contract after a breakout 34-goal campaign as a rookie in 2010-11.

BIGGEST NEEDS
Regardless of the garbage-time offense they received from those who didn't play on John Tavares' consistently productive line, the Isles have to improve their secondary scoring next season to advance to playoff contention. They also will have at least three defensive roster spots to fill, with only captain Mark Streit, who took about half the season to regain form after missing a year with shoulder problems, and young first pair Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald assured of returning.

FREE AGENT FOCUS
The Isles, who aren't likely to deviate from their recent approach of barely reaching the salary-cap floor, kept useful center Frans Nielsen away from unrestricted free agency by locking him up in March to a five-year contract extension, and they also retained veteran goalie Evgeni Nabokov for another year as a hedge against further injuries by always-hurt franchise goalie Rick DiPietro. First-line right winger PA Parenteau (18-49-67) is their most significant UFA, and it's not certain that the Isles will match what the former AHL journeyman might command on the open market. Regular defenseman Steve Staios, Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina and goalie Al Montoya also will be free agents, and there's a strong likelihood none of them will be back.

PLAYER NOTES

--LW Matt Moulson finished the season with a team-best 36 goals, including 14 on the power play, giving him 97 goals in his first three full NHL seasons, all with the Islanders. Moulson, who hasn't missed a game in three seasons, also became the first Islander to record three straight 30-goal campaigns since Ziggy Palffy from 1995-96 to 1997-98.

--RW Kyle Okposo netted nine goals in his final nine games to finish with a career-high 24. Okposo started the season slowly after signing a five-year, $14 million contract extension, scoring just 15 goals in his first 70 appearances.

--RW Nino Niederreiter, the Isles' first-round pick in 2010 (fifth overall), languished mostly on the fourth line all season and scored just one goal with zero assists in 55 NHL games. The 19-year-old Swiss winger didn't register a point after Dec. 2.

MEDICAL WATCH

--G Rick DiPietro (groin) underwent season-ending sports-hernia surgery for a groin injury originally suffered Dec. 3.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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