New York's even winding down its time at the outdated Nassau Coliseum with just two seasons left before the club moves its home to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning with the 2015-16 campaign.
Thanks to the NHL's realignment plan for the upcoming season, the Islanders will make the switch to the Metropolitan Division in 2013-14. The group includes all of New York's former Atlantic Division foes and adds Carolina, Columbus and Washington. The top three teams in each conference's two divisions earn a trip to the postseason, while the remaining two spots are wild cards.
It's hard to tell how the first year in realignment will shake out, but with Tavares leading the charge, the Isles have a solid chance at earning one of the Metro's three automatic playoff berths.
FORWARDS - After an 81-point season in 2011-12, Tavares continued to make strides in 2013 and the centerman wound up as one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy in the lockout-shortened campaign.
The 22-year-old Tavares recorded a career-best 31 goals in 2011-12, but he was even more dangerous last season when he tallied 28 times in just 48 contests. The first overall pick of the 2009 draft also has a knack for making those around him better and nobody knows that more than left winger Matt Moulson.
Moulson, a former ninth-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2003, struck gold when he signed a one-year contract with the Islanders in the summer of 2009. He scored 30 or more goals in his first three years playing to the left of Tavares and had 44 points (15G, 29A) in 47 games last season.
Moulson could be in for another big season in 2013-14, considering this is a contract year for the 29-year-old sniper.
The Isles opted not to re-sign right winger Brad Boyes after he notched 10 goals and 25 assists while primarily playing on the top line in 2013. New York hopes Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Isles this summer, can be even more productive while playing alongside Moulson and Tavares.
Bouchard is a highly-skilled player who had played his entire career with the offensively-challenged Minnesota Wild, but he could be in for a banner season if he plays on the top line in 2013-14. The 29-year-old had 20 points (8G, 12A) in 43 games for the Wild last season and once posted 20 goals and 57 points for Minnesota in 2006-07.
Kyle Okposo (4G, 20A in 48 games in 2013) and Cal Clutterbuck are also candidates for the right wing spot, but Bouchard's speed and skill gives him the inside track over those guys. However, Clutterbuck will miss at least the first month of the season after suffering a laceration to his leg in the pre- season.
Clutterbuck, who was acquired for forward prospect Nino Niederreiter in a summer trade with Minnesota, is as physical as they come, but he probably is a better fit on the second or third lines. A tireless worker, Clutterbuck had four goals, six assists and 27 penalty minutes in 42 games for the Wild last season.
There is also an outside chance rookie Ryan Strome could eventually occupy the spot to Tavares' right, but that day may not come this season. Although naturally a centerman, the fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft projects as Tavares' right winger of the future. The problem is at 6-foot, 179 pounds, he may not yet have the size to compete in the NHL on a nightly basis, meaning Strome could spend much of 2013-14 with New York's AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn.