The days of ignoring the islands are over. The days when the islanders were perceived as a discriminated community are long gone. Expectations are higher than ever.
Not being able to compete in the Stanley Cup final in the last two seasons will not cure anything, except to prove that Lord Stanley is attractive for the third time in 2021-22.
General manager Lou Lamoriello retained the bulk of the Islanders despite the challenges of the off-season. But when a few players didn’t make team friendship deals, that wasn’t possible, it just shows how much the Island team bought.
The Islanders lost one of their best wingers in Seattle’s expansion project, Jordan Eberl, and had to trade Nick Leddy with a few minutes of defender to clear the gap. But Lamoriello brought in forces, signing veterans Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara — bringing back Kyle Palmieri, who was sold to the islands at the end of last season before signing a four-year deal in the summer.
While the islands have intangibles, including chemistry and friendliness, their aging squad is wondering if they can survive a full 82-game season and continue their grinding style in the third round of the playoffs. the question arises.
Without Eberle, who scored the most goals for the team last season (16), the Islanders will have a new look at the top line. During the training session, Palmieri clashed with Anders Lee and Matthew Barzal on the right wing. Lee’s return from ACL surgery should have had a major impact on the Islanders, who have missed both the captain’s strength and power. Barzal, who has been the team’s top scorer for the last four seasons, should remain Barzal. In addition, Palmieri and Barzal scored a couple goals on the ice several times last season.
While players like Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau have found ways to contribute, Anthony Bovillier, who has scored more goals for the Islanders, and Oliver Walstrom, who is still developing, will need more. ‘ladi. If Beauvillier or Wahlstrom can commit a constant offense during the season, the islands should be in good condition.
Given that Leddy, who left last season, led all Island defenders with 31 points (two goals, 29 assists), it will be crucial that the remaining defenders, particularly Ryan Pulok and Noah Dobson, fill that gap. Dobson needs to jump in both production and ice time, but the latter will be needed now to get a second pair of minutes with Zdeno Chara.
Pulok and Adam Pelech remain one of the NHL’s most recognizable defensive pairs, and they will likely continue the bulk of their encounters against the opponent’s top lines. Scott Mayfield is also showing strong play in the 2020-21 playoffs. But between 44-year-old Chara and 39-year-old Andy Green later this month, the island’s protection from salt and pepper raises long-standing concerns.
The Icelanders have one of the strongest goalolding tandems in the NHL with Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin. But Varlamov is on the injured bench to start the season with an unexplained injury. Sorokin will be the number one goalkeeper until Varlamov recovers. Corey Schneider will relinquish his contract to be handed over to the league. If he clears, Schneider will probably serve as Sorokin’s backup.
Sorokin enters the second season of the NHL after a strong season, setting a 13-6-3 record this season, with an average of 2.17 goals and a .918 save percentage. The 26-year-old Russian also went 4-1 in the Islands playoffs last season with a .922 save.
Ever since Barry Trots came to Long Island, the Islanders have long bought the head coach’s philosophy of how they win the Stanley Cup: You climb to the top of the mountain together, or you don’t climb at all. The message has not changed. It’s just about doing the task.
The most important attacking player
Anthony Bovilier. The 2021-22 season will be Boville’s sixth in the NHL, and it’s time for some stability. Bovillier, who makes it to the playoffs, has to appear every night for the Islanders to compete as an attacker in the 82-game tough season.
The most important defensive player
Rayan Pulok. When it comes to insulting contributions, Pulok can make a big difference. He is also playing for a new No. 6 contract as he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
The best player
There are no new players who can make a meaningful impact on the Islands.
The main decision on coaching
Once Leddy, who has played an average of more than 20 minutes for the Islands, is missing, Trots will have to figure out how to approach the defense in terms of time. He had previously been wary of overworking Pelech and Pulok, but he should also not forget how Trots responded to Chara and Green’s workloads.
The Islanders finish at the top of the metropolitan division and easily make their way from season to season. Injured or just tired from the first full season, the Islands are ready to play in the Stanley Cup.