Proposed eight-team division makes this season even tougher for the Islanders

With the NHL season set to begin this time next month, the Islanders are beginning their preparation for what is expected to be a tough campaign. But now another challenge has been added.

Yesterday a tweet from TSN and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun revealed what the four-division realignment for the NHL might look when the new season gets underway. Realignment is being instituted this season to keep teams from having to travel long distance with the league, U.S. and Canada still being at the knees of the coronavirus pandemic.

LeBrun noted while nothing is finalized, one of the divisions — whatever it will be called — will feature the Isles along with seven other teams — the Rangers, Devils, Flyers, Penguins, Capitals, Sabres and Bruins.

As if the competition among a majority of those Metropolitan Division teams wasn’t enough — all of the Metro teams listed other than New Jersey played in the NHL’s Return to Play format over the summer — the addition of Boston and Buffalo is a whole other ball game.

The Bruins have been one of the NHL’s best and powers of the Eastern Conference for almost a decade now. It doesn’t help that they have been a thorn in the Islanders’ side for quite a while. They play almost the exact same smothering style as the Isles, only they have the offensive firepower to go with it. Tuukka Rask, Boston’s goaltender, has also dominated the Islanders his whole career.

Only last season were the Isles able to muster up their first win over the Bruins since January of 2017 — a 3-2 shootout win at TD Garden in December.

Buffalo, on the other hand, is looking to end their own playoff drought. Their last postseason appearance came in 2011. They also improved this offseason with the additions of Taylor Hall and Eric Staal. More so, they usually always play the Isles close.

Two of the three supposed matchups between the clubs were both decided by a goal each time.

The Islanders have also never shared a division with either the Bruins or Sabres.

So, not only will they have to deal with six of their division rivals eight times, but now Boston and Buffalo will make up 16 games of the proposed 56-game schedule. That’s a crucial amount of games that won’t make the path any easier for the Isles to get back to the postseason for a third consecutive year.

However way you look at it, the Islanders will definitely be getting their money’s worth in this shortened season. But they’ve shown under Barry Trotz they are willing to take on any challenge.

All the proof you need is the two straight postseason appearances and the club’s performance late this summer when they came within two games of the Stanley Cup Final.

Every new season always has its roadblocks. For the Islanders, this one will be a part of an eight-team gauntlet.


A few Isles notes:

-Forbes came out with their NHL Team valuations yesterday for 2020 and the Islanders were at #16. Not good not great, but up again from the following year. That despite losing the most money — $39 million — of any NHL franchise this past season.

From Forbes too: “They generated the NHL’s second-lowest revenue ($93 million after revenue sharing) while splitting their home games between the Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum, but better financial times are ahead as the Isles move into their new arena by Belmont Park on Long Island for the 2021-22 campaign.”

-Very cool to see Ilya Sorokin getting into the memorabilia game. The organization’s newest prospect was seen signing dozens of mini Isles helmets for Fanatics Exclusive.