This past post-season, the New York Islanders lost in game 6 in the eastern conference final to Tampa Bay. If you saw even a glimpse of the game you could see they really thought they had it. We all saw number 13s face when the clock ran down and they were still down 2-3. This was the farthest the New York Islanders had gone in the playoffs since 1993. The growth and development of this team are quite fascinating. Big changes came to The Island in 2018. Long time captain John Tavares left for Toronto, they got a new GM, Lou Lamoriello, and a new head coach, Barry Trots. Anders Lee was selected as captain and they had an emerging star coming off of a Calder win, Mathew Barzal.
Key Additions: A.J. Greer (Colorado Avalanche)
AJ Greer came from Colorado in exchange for Kyle Burroughs. He was drafted 39th overall in the 2015 draft. The 2015 draft class is arguably…um…unbeatable. Colorado has done a lot of growing and developing over the years and so have the Islanders. I think it will be really exciting to see him play with guys like Barzal and Beauvillier.
Losses: Johnny Boychuck (retirement)
Johnny Boychuk was a defenseman for the Islanders for six seasons after playing for the Boston Bruins. He was a well-rooted player on the backend and was a large contribution to the team. He unexpectedly announced his retirement in mid-November due to an eye injury. It’ll be sad to see him off the ice but I can’t imagine this is the last we’ll see of Johnny Rocket. I foresee a coaching career or something in the Islanders executive offices.
Forward Line Predictions:
|Anders Lee||Mathew Barzal||Jordan Eberle|
|Anthony Beauvillier||Brock Nelson||Josh Baily|
|Keifer Bellows||J.G Pageau||Oliver Wahlstrom|
|Michael Dal Cole||Casey Cizikas||Cal Clutterbuck|
Defensive Pairing Predictions:
|Adam Pelech||Ryan Pulock|
|Nick Leddy||Scott Mayfield|
|Thomas Hickey||Noah Dobson|
In the net:
In the offseason, the Islanders signed Ilya Sorokin and let Thomas Greiss walk in free agency. According to Islanders GM, Lou Lamoriello, the net is going to be the Sorokin/Varlamov show. They’ll split starts throughout the season and Varly will help Sorokin break into the NHL. Sorokin previously played professionally in Russia and for the Russian national team. Varlamov also played for the Russian national team and has previously played for the Avs and the Capitals. They play very hard and strong in the defensive zone which will make a breakout season an easy task for Sorokin.
Overall, I think keeping guys like Barzal and Eberle on the same line is going to really build the chemistry that’s already there. Beauvillier had a fantastic series against the Capitals in the playoffs last year. Barzal also had some great points throughout the postseason. Head coach Barry Trots has made 13 of the last 16 playoffs. He’s a playoff coach with a playoff team. I think we’re about to see a really adamant team on the island this season.