Fantasy Impact: The Islanders Fire Jack Capuano

by steve laidlaw on January 17, 2017 | (10 Comments)

Fantasy Impact: The Islanders have fired head coach Jack Capuano.

Capuano will be replaced by Doug Weight on an interim basis. We have never seen Weight as a head coach so it is anyone’s guess what type of style we should expect him to play.

The timing of this move is especially interesting as the Islanders have played much better of late. Since December 1 the Islanders have scored like a top-10 team putting up 3.2 goals per game. Sure, they were also conceding 3.0 goals per game, but things had settled down since the demotion of Jaroslav Halak.

Their record since December 1 was 9-7-4, which is by no means good but also an improvement. It is worth checking out the Islanders’ top scorers from their 20-game stretch of hot scoring:

Josh Bailey

16

Anders Lee

15

John Tavares

15

Nick Leddy

11

Brock Nelson

9

Casey Cizikas

9

Jason Chimera

9

Cal Clutterbuck

8

Nikolai Kulemin

8

Ryan Strome

8

Andrew Ladd

8

 

Tavares still isn’t producing like a superstar but he’s gotten Bailey and Lee up to fantasy relevance, which is an impressive feat in and of itself. Meanwhile, the most expensive fourth line in the league (Chimera, Cizikas, Clutterbuck) is finally producing at a level reflective of their price tag, if not their talent.

Capuano, a consummate tinkerer, spent a long time figuring out the right line combinations to get this team scoring. He finally got there and has been hanged anyway. The timing doesn’t make that much sense. Typically, things must get unsustainably bad for a coach to get fired but they’ve already started to turn themselves around. Considering the chicken shit that was the Islanders’ 2016 offseason, Capuano getting this team to tread water is impressive.

Of course, the seemingly infinite number of third-period collapses played a part in this decision. For that reason alone you could understand the firing, but again, the Islanders were playing improved hockey.

Presumably, the Islanders front office made this decision a while back and waited until they got through the thicket of their schedule with seven of nine games since Christmas coming on the road, and a bye week mixed in as well. They’ll now play six straight home games to close out January, which (if you ignore opponent strength) is a good way to set the new coach up for success. The official party line is this:

It’s hard to see what Weight is going to do to get more from this roster. They’ve got a legitimate top line with Tavares, Lee and Bailey. Their depth scoring is coming around. Greiss is playing like a #1 goalie. If anything, we might expect Weight to tinker and derail whatever semblance of decency these guys had established over the last month and a half.

There should be serious concerns about the Islanders tanking this season. Not only is Weight’s position within the organization as interim head coach but he also has the title of “special assistant to the GM”. That means he may not be fighting to prove his worth here. If the team does decide this season is lost, they have someone front the front office acting in a position to decide the nightly lineup. A scary thought for anyone with Islanders in their fantasy lineup.

Tanking could also mean Greiss getting moved to a contender and Halak making his return, which wouldn’t be all bad, but I have a lot of concerns. I’m treating every Islander not named Tavares like they’re sporting a scarlet letter. 

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  • isle b.

    From someone who watches this team closely, it is hard to overstate how terrible an NHL coach Jack Capuano is. I don’t know if Weight will do much better (as the Isles’ power play has been lousy for 2 years and he hasn’t solved any problems there), but I can’t fathom him doing much worse. The biggest beneficiaries, IMO, are likely be Weight’s good buddy Andrew Ladd (who will probably get another look at playing with JT) and Anthony Beauvillier (who is quite possibly the 2nd-most skilled forward on this team right now, but since he’s a lowly rook, the dunderheaded Capuano refused to play him).

  • Peter Dallara

    As an Islander fan, I’m elated with the dismissal of Capuano.It should have happened a long time ago. He was a terrible coach. The way he handled Barzal and Beauvillier was mind boggling. Bailey does not belong on Tavares’ wing. Lee was not given enough ice time. The team lost late leads numerous times. I could go on and on. Good riddance.

  • Striker

    Steve.

    Should Bailey be getting 1st line ice time & PP time? I don’t think so. He’s a 2nd line winger at best, ideally a 3rd line winger who should see no better than 2nd line PP time. Wreaks of the same opportunity Abdelkader gets in Det. Works his off, a great guy but he’s pure Teflon under Capunao. Could do no wrong.

    I pray Weight turns Strome lose to play his offensive game & not as a C but as Tavares RW in Baileys spot both 5 on 5 & on the PP.

    • steve laidlaw

      Watch Strome play and tell me he deserves those minutes. He’s been used there and it’s been awful.

      • Dobber

        NHL teams are known for giving players minutes based on what is deserved? A guy like Strome – give him 20 minutes per game on the top line for 12 games. Then pass judgment. If he’s terrible, waive him. Euro-bound. A guy like that, with his experience and upside, either posts big points or he’s dead weight. But I think he’d pull through
        I like lines of
        Lee – Tavares – Strome
        Prince – Nelson – Ladd

        And send Beauvillier to junior. Don’t ruin him.

      • Striker

        My 2nd line is Ladd, Nelson, Bailey. I play Prince on the 3rd.
        Prince, Cizikas, Kulemin.
        Chimera, Quine, Clutterbuck when healthy.

        Obviously there is deck shuffling as required for a whole range of reasons but I agree at least 10 games & the minutes to create chemistry & allow some confidence to build. Strome has been beaten down by this organization repeatedly from day 1. In the playoffs his benching was shocking. Yes he was making mistaes but he was 1 of their best offensive players. Bailey makes mistakes tons & the consequence is ZERO. How is that fair. Play Strome or trade him.

        Had Snow retained Parenteau as he should have Bailey could be playing 3rd line minutes where he belongs. Czarnik isn’t an ideal 3rd line C but Snpow choose to pay him as such. Beauvillier should have been sent back long ago & got to play in the WJC’s.

        If you look at TOI in NYI it’s skewed. It has started to correct it’s self as Capuano started playing Lee, Strome & Nelson more when his plan of using Chimera & Clutterbuck as scores failed. Shocking.

      • Striker

        Strome has yet to play RW with Tavares 5 on 5. Bailey has played there virtually exclusively, pretty much except when in the penalty box which has only happened twice. Strome has certainly gotten 1st line PP time but that PP time has come as a essentially a point man. I want him on the side wall where Bailey is playing & Bailey removed entirely from that unit.

        Strome has as many goals as Bailey 6 & PP goals 1. Yes he has less points he plays almost 5 mins less a game with guys like Chimera, Czarnik, Prince, etc. He has been deployed with nelson but generally with him as the C & Nelson at LW & the barely play & get saddled with another dead beat on RW & 2 Dman that can’t play a transitional game.

        Not sure which Islanders games your watching. Obviously the 1’s I’m not & vice versa. Quantity & quality of ice time coupled with linemates & your own skill set is a significant factor in a players ability to produce points. If Strome had received the same opportunity that Bailey has received I believe he would have more than Bailey 6 goals & 29 points. I could be wrong.

      • isle b.

        Strome played RW with Tavares extensively last season and he was a disaster there. The only time he has ever looked good at RW was with Nelson at center. Strome clearly needs to be the primary puck carrier on his line.

        While Cappy has jerked Strome around quite a bit in terms of even strength playing time, Strome has gotten plenty of power play time and has done nothing with it. The truth is Josh Bailey is flat-out a much better NHL forward than Strome is at this moment in time for whatever reason.

      • Striker

        Don’t get me wrong. Strome has to be accountable as well but I would argue that last year as well, 1 mistake & back in the dog house. He needs to be given a consistent opportunity not 2 games here, none for another 5 games, then a cup of coffee, but at the 1st line of trouble boom sitting again, etc.

        Bailey is a great player. Just not a 1st line RW or PP guy. Why is he allowed to make the same or similiar mistakes & not miss a shift. Granted no where near as often.

        Yes Strome is getting PP time but as I stated essentially as a point man.

        If NYI wants to salvage anything from this player the clock is ticking. 1 of the most mishandled prospects & young players drafted in the last decade. Capuano with Snow’s blessing may have destroyed this player. I sure hope not.

        It may be time to give him a fresh start else where. At 23 having been selected 5th overall 5 years ago it may be to late. Strome his never going to be a good 2 way player or a solid defensive player like Bailey. A square peg that Capunao has tried to hammer into a round hole for 4 years.

  • Mathieu

    With the likes of Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Ryan Pulock, Josh Ho-Sang, Michael Dal Colle, Ilya Sokorin, Adam Pelech and Shane Prince all coming up, it would be great if a head coach known for his ability to help rookies grow into their full potential was available. Someone like Gerard Gallant.

    Oh, wait…