Breaking down the real problem with the New York Islanders

New York Islanders, Barry Trotz

The New York Islanders have dropped 5 straight games and have only collected just 2 points in those games. In a regular season, there’s a chance you can come back from this. But, in an abbreviated season, there’s just no room for this much error. Who’s to blame for this skid? The production from the players? The lineups made by Barry Trotz? Or, is it the fact that the Islanders just lack talent overall? The answer is basically all three of these things combined.

Lack of Production

There are only a few players on this team who look like they actually want to win. Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Noah Dobson, Ryan Pulock, and Adam Pelech. Every other lineup regular forgot that the season started 3 weeks ago. This does not include players like Kieffer Bellows, Austin Czarnik, and Oliver Wahlstrom, who all have played great in their limited chances. I don’t know what’s going to get through the heads of other players. If you cannot score, play good defense and check tightly. But no one else does that, so it’s basically a 19v6 every single night. Whenever Nick Leddy, Leo Komarov, and Ross Johnston take the ice, I cringe a lot. The Islanders need to find players who actually want to win.

Bad Coaching Decisions

I’m not taking away from how good of a coach Barry Trotz is, but his decisions have been questionable recently. For example, Leo Komarov takes a major penalty late in the third period, and the second he’s able to come back, he gets thrown out there with a minute left in a tied game. Komarov blows his assignment, as everyone knew he would, and costs the Isles 2 points. Then the next game, Komarov gets bumped up to top-six minutes. If I’m the coach, I know exactly how I’m rolling out these forwards. Lee-Barzal-Eberle, Bellows-Nelson-Cznarik/Dal Colle, Wahlstrom-Pageau-Bailey, fourth line. Obviously, when Beauvillier comes back, he’ll take out Cznarik or whoever is skidding.

Lack of Talent

Nick Leddy is an AHL talent at this point in his career. Leo Komarov is going to be in an old folk’s home soon. Ross Johnston is just a UFC fighter on skates. Scott Mayfield is as average as it possibly gets. I do like his penalty kill play, though. Everyone else is just playing bad, so I won’t get on their case, but still, this team lacks talent. And it’s not like they can get out of this rut anytime soon because they don’t have cap space. This year you have to resign the white whale, the best defender on the team, and a top 6 forward, plus more. The Islanders must make a blockbuster trade now.

New York Islanders: 3 takeaways from loss to Capitals

New York Islanders, Mat Barzal

The New York Islanders lost to the Washington Capitals in regulation after poor backchecking cost them a chance at victory. Leo Komarov made his season debut last night, and boy, did the Capitals feel his impact.

He gifted them a 5-minute major that turned the momentum late in the 3rd period. And then, with only 26 seconds left, Komarov decides to not backcheck, and the Capitals score. First of all, Barry Trotz should not have someone like Leo Komarov out there with a minute left. Second of all, Leo Komarov plays mainly because of his penalty-killing ability, but he never gets to kill one because he’s always in the box. Hockey is a team game, and the Isles didn’t lose just because of Komarov. So, what did NHL fans learn from last night’s game?

The First Line is the Only Line

You cannot expect to win a hockey game when you only have 8 real players on the ice at all times. Other good teams, like the Bruins, have 19 real players available. The Islanders have both their first lines, Noah Dobson and whichever goalie is in.

It’s physically impossible for them to win consistently if half the team doesn’t perform. There needs to be a switch-up in lines. I would like to see JG Pageau get some help for once. Put Josh Bailey on the third line with Pageau and Wahlstrom. Also, have Michael Dal Colle replace Anthony Beauvillier on the second line until he comes back. MDC, Brock Nelson, and Kieffer Bellows on the second line. Keep everything else the same.

Noah Dobson Will be a top defenseman in the League

It’s always amazing to see a young star in the making. When I saw players like Odell Beckham Jr, Patrick Mahomes, and Mat Barzal become superstars, I always was smiling ear to ear when they played. I get the same feeling when I see Noah Dobson play.

Dobson has only played 40 official NHL games in his young career, but he plays like he’s played 300. Dobson is calm with the puck, he’s strong in the corners, and he shoots at will. Trotz has always said when you’re outside the dots, shoot for your teammates, and that’s what Dobson does. Noah Dobson will be a top 20 defender in the league in 2 years’ time.

Nick Leddy Must be Moved

The Nick Leddy trade was a great trade, the keyword is was. Nick Leddy is a shell of his former self, and he’s dragging Scott Mayfield down with him. Leddy puts no pressure on forwards and misses his man almost every time. The only thing he has left is his speed and his shot. The Islanders need a real defenseman to pair with Scott Mayfield. Maybe the Keith Yandle rumors heat up? Or maybe the Islanders take a shot at Vince Dunn, who was placed on the trade block recently.

New York Islanders: Analyzing last night’s Loss to the Devils

New York Islanders, Noah Dobson

The New York Islanders did it again, they made a backup goalie look like a franchise one. There were so many problems in last night’s performance. Problems such as not marking forwards, puck control, shots on net, rebound control, easy passing, and so much more. The Islanders have yet to play well when Ilya Sorokin is in between the pipes. Not a single goal for in Sorokin’s two starts this season. I only blame Sorokin for the second goal last night.

The rebound was way too juicy, should’ve been controlled or frozen. But, I also can put the blame on Casey Cizkas for overpursuing Nikita Gusev and Nick Leddy not marking his man. Hockey is a team sport, and a team can only win together. What were the strong points and weak points from last night’s loss?

Strong Points

Noah Dobson played very well last night apart from one small little pass on the power play. If Dobson and Pulock can get their chemistry down pat, the first line power play could become dangerous.

One thing I really like about Dobson’s game is the fact that he shoots so very often. Good things happen when the puck gets on the net, and Dobson understands that. Next, Adam Pelech had another sensational performance. Pelech could be a top 3 player in every game this season if he continues this type of play. Pelech is impressive and the glue that holds the team together. Finally, Ilya Sorokin played well if you forget the rebound on the second goal. Sorokin is pretty quick from pipe to pipe. I think with proper Islander play, Sorkin could shine.

Weak Points

Scott Wedgewood is not as good as the Islanders made him look. It’s just a fact, no hate on Wedgewood at all. The Islanders only challenged Wedgewood maybe twice last night. The only type of shots the Islanders took last night was chest shots and leg shots with no rebound guy.

Jordan Eberle and Casey Cizikas both missed empty-net goals. A professional Hockey team cannot score consistent goals if they aren’t grinding for them. The defense looked a bit lost last night. The forwards couldn’t control the puck well enough. Finally, the Islanders got beat at their own game. They got trapped in the neutral zone—a terrible performance in a shortened season where every point counts.

New York Islanders: 3 takeaways from win over Devils

New York Islanders, Mat Barzal

The New York Islanders prevail victorious once again after beating the New Jersey Devils with a score of 4-1. Everyone criticizes the Islanders’ ability to score, or lack thereof, but they scored in bunches last night. Yes, it does help to play against a goalie who hasn’t played in the NHL in 3 years. But Scott Wedgewood held his own and gave the Devils every chance to level the game, his defenders let him down. Lindy Ruff plays aggressive Hockey with his defenders. They normally pinch up way farther than any other team, and this leads to 2v1’s. The Islanders literally only score on 2v1’s. Nevertheless, it was a complete performance last night and proved many things to the fans.

Mat Barzal Can Shoot

When people look at the Islanders’ roster on paper, they say, “there’s no one who can score 30+ goals”. Enter a confident Mat Barzal, who is now shooting the puck. When Barzal shoots, the world stops for a second, and the other team prays it doesn’t go in. Last night, he walked down a defender and just sniped one into the toy department to open the scoring. Barry Trotz kept talking about how Barzal could have a 30 goal season, well if he keeps this play up, he certainly will.

Jordan Eberle is Getting Hot

Jordan Eberle has this ability to either be a top goal scorer for the Islanders’ or just completely forget how to shoot. This year, Jordan Eberle decided it’s time for him to play like playoff Eberle against the Penguins. When Eberle gets hot, it’s very hard to stop that first line. Mat Barzal laps the zone, hands it to Eberle, Eberle shoots it, and Lee taps the rebound in. That’s how this line works. This line is almost dependent on good o-zone play from Eberle. Also, I can’t forget to mention how good he’s played in the neutral zone. Stripping pucks and making hits, Trotz has to love it.

Pulock and Pelech are a Top Defensive Pairing

I don’t care if your a Ranger fan, or an Islander fan, or just a Hockey fan in general, if you do not believe that Pulock and Pelech are a top pairing, you simply don’t watch Hockey. These two defenders play so differently, but they complement each other really well. Pulock is that tough big man with a slapshot from hell and has great board control. Pelech is a smaller guy, but still big, and pokes nearly everything in his way. Jack Hughes has been a roll these past couple of games, these two defenders held him to 0 shots on the net. The two are a top pairing in the league, and it’s time they get their respect.

New York Islanders: Notes from Sunday’s practice

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders continued their training camp with another scrimmage yesterday. It was a “for real” scrimmage with the official game jersey’s given out to everyone participating. The teams were blue vs. white as always. The blue team’ forwards consisted of Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, J.G. Pageau, Ross Johnston, Andrew Ladd, Otto Koivula, and Michael Dal Colle. The defenseman for the blue team: Nick Leddy, Scott Mayfield, Thomas Hickey, Bode Wilde, Sebastian Aho, and Grant Hutton. Semyon Varlamov was in between the pipes. Now, the forwards for the white team were: Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, the fourth line, A.J. Greer, Austin Cznarik, Leo Komarov, and Simon Holmstrom. The defensive lineup consisted of Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Andy Greene, Noah Dobson, Parker Wotherspoon, and Samuel Bolduc. Ilya Sorokin was the starting goalie. This scrimmage got very interesting.

Goals

Jordan Eberle opened up the scoring by putting one past Semyon Varlamov on the opening shift. J.G. Pageau would then respond with the equalizer after scoring in his favorite spot, the crease. This was the first goal that Ilya Sorokin allowed all camp. When it rains, it pours, Grant Hutton put another one past Ilya Sorokin on a rush. Next, Kieffer Bellows believed he scored to open up the third period on Ilya Sorokin. This goal would end up counting. Then, Oliver Wahlstrom would pop out of the penalty box and score on Ilya Sorokin. This would effectively win the game for the blue team. The final score was 4-1.

Notes

Samuel Bolduc had an all-around great day, he even dumped Beauvillier to the ice after spinning away from him. The third line of Pageau, Wahlstrom, and Bellows all scored goals today and played excellent defense. Don’t be surprised if that’s the opening night third line. Although Ilya Sorokin let in 4 goals yesterday, he played very well and stopped many other scoring chances. Do not panic, Islander fans, it’s just a scrimmage. Semyon Varlamov played great yesterday and stopped nearly everything that came his way. Varlamov will get the opening night start, but Sorokin could play on Saturday. Noah Dobson and Ryan Pulock have been playing on the same PP unit, most likely the squad for opening night. Also, Casey Cizikas was involved in a three-way collision with Thomas Hickey and Matt Martin, his status is trending upwards.

Extra Notes

Josh Ho-Sang and Mason Jobst were put on waivers yesterday. I believe this will effectively end Ho-Sang’s time with the Islanders. Though Thomas Hickey has had a good camp, he will most likely be traded. Look for the Islanders to try and pick up someone on waivers today. Barry Trotz has stated that Bode Wilde could become the next John Carlson which is great news. Finally, the Islanders only have two more skates left before January 14th.

New York Islanders: Reaction to Mat Barzal’s new contract

New York Islanders, Mat Barzal

The day all New York Islander fans have been waiting for is here. Franchise center Mat Barzal has finally re-signed. It’s been months of questions, and none of these questions have been answered until today.

Barzal signs a 3-year deal worth $7 million dollars per. It’s a bridge deal, which everyone expected, and it ends in 2023 when the Isles are out of cap trouble. Barzal’s contract breakdown reads as such: $3 million dollars in 2021 plus an extra $1 million dollars for signing. $7 million dollars in 2022, and $10 million dollars in 2023. Barzal has missed 4 days of training camp so far. Will, the lack of preparation hurt Mat Barzal’s performance?

Barzal’s Preparation

Mat Barzal is a professional Hockey player. Do you really think he wouldn’t be prepared to play? Barzal has been skating with former Islanders, Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk. Along with current Islander, Tom Kuhnhackl. Barzal was also skating around with different NHL players before training camp began.

When people prepared for something the way Barzal has, they care about that something. Mat Barzal stated in an interview today that he loves Long Island and never thought about going anywhere else. He also stated that the negotiations were very fair for both sides, and he knows he has to work on his consistency.

Barzal’s Performance

My coach, Matt Johnson, also said, “big players make big plays in big-time games.” Well, today wasn’t a big-time game, but Barzal made some big plays. In just two shifts, Barzal managed to score two goals and make Noah Dobson look lost. There’s no denying the talent that Barzal possesses, but there definitely was some concern about performance after missing four training camp days. It’s time to put those rumors to rest; Barzal looks perfectly fine. All he has to do is back check better, and the long term deal with the Isles he wants will be on the table in 2023.

New York Islanders: Tom Kuhnhackl signs a PTO

New York Islanders, Tom Kuhnhackl

The New York Islanders have successfully retained another one of their free agents not named Mat Barzal. Yesterday, it was reported that Tom Kuhnhackl was on the training camp roster. But, just like his teammate Mat Barzal, Kuhnhackl did not take the ice. This was either due to the fact that he didn’t sign a contract yet or his shoulder wasn’t ready to go.

It seems as if it was the second reason as the Islanders announced that Kuhnhackl signed a PTO. What is a PTO? It’s basically a professional tryout, it’s what Mike Hoffman signed last week with the St. Louis Blues. In the case of the Isles, Kuhnhackl signed a PTO because they need to sign Barzal first. Then they will use the rest of their money to sign Kuhnhackl. What does Kuhnhackl bring to the Islanders?

Great Forechecking

Tom Kuhnhackl never played better Hockey than when the Isles played the Panthers in the play-in round. His forechecking was outstanding, the third line was the best line in that series for this reason. They gave the opposition absolutely no time to get settled and set up a play. Kuhnhackl created a couple of goals based on his board play in the offensive zone. Kuhnhackl always gives his all in every single game, and this team needs more of that effort. I believe that Kuhnhackl could definitely take that Left-Wing spot on the third line once again.

Leadership

The Islanders don’t need more veterans who can teach the young guns, but that’s what Kuhnhackl is. Kuhnhackl is a winner, he won 2 Stanley Cups in back to back years with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In fact, Kuhnhackl has never missed the playoffs in his NHL career. Kuhnhackl brings a winning mentality and knows how to get it done in the playoffs.

New York Islanders: Matt Martin Signs New Contract

New York Islanders, Matt Martin

Longtime New York Islanders enforcer Matt Martin has just signed a new deal to stay with the team. The deal is worth $1.5 million dollars over 4 years. A long deal, but this will certainly keep Martin in town for the rest of his career. This deal is beautiful if you truly know what the 4th line brings to this team. There are several implications for the team’s plan going into the future with this contract. So, what does Matt Martin’s new contract mean for the Islanders?

Ross Johnston’s Future

Ross Johnston was signed to a four-year deal worth $1 million dollars a year recently. Martin has also been re-signed for four years, so what does this mean for Ross Johnston? I believe this is basically the end for him on the Islanders. I will forever standby the fact that Martin is a better Hockey player than Johnston. When you need someone to apply pressure and maybe score, you put in Martin. When you need an enforcer who can just beat people up, you put in Johnston.

This is the NHL, not the UFC. Playing good Hockey is way more important than beating up the other team and taking penalties.

Other Players’ Contracts

Thomas Kuhnhackl, Andy Greene, Corey Schnieder, and Mat Barzal all still need new contracts. Corey Schneider will probably sign the 1 year, $700k deal that he was reported to sign in October.

Andy Greene will most likely also sign for an amount around that. I would say a deal around 1 year worth $850k.

Mat Barzal will take almost all of the remaining cap space left with about $800k left for Kuhnhackl. Johnny Boychuk must officially retire first for all this to work, I don’t know what’s the holdup though. And Dmytro Timashov’s new deal is still waiting to be announced. Don’t worry Isles fans, they will resign Barzal soon.

New York Islanders: Mat Barzal contract negotiation update

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

New York Islanders training camp started today, and to everyone’s surprise, they still haven’t re-signed franchise center Mat Barzal. Contract negotiations resumed just last week after the all the dates were announced. Regardless of this, Barzal could sign any day now. General manager Lou Lamoriello and fellow Islanders’ teammates believe that Barzal will sign within the coming days.

Mat Barzal is currently on Long Island and is quarantining in hopes of joining his team immediately after signing his contract. Everyone around the Isles are confident in Barzal’s new contract, but the terms of the deal have not been finalized.

When I think about this contract, I look at similar players around the league. Players like Mitch Marner and Pierre-Luc Dubois. These elite players got bridge deals after holding out for many, many months. Mat Barzal is no exception to this trend. Barzal is 100% looking at a 2-3 year deal. This helps both sides. The Islanders get time to resign all their guys like Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech, and Ilya Sorokin to long term deals. While Barzal can earn even more for a longer period of time-based on his play for the next few years. A bridge deal is the only deal in play here.

Amount

Excuse me if I sound like a broken record here, but the Islanders don’t have a ton of salary cap. The terms of Matt Martin’s contract has not come out yet. The same thing goes for Andy Greene.

I assume it’s either the league minimum or very close to it. So, this leaves the Islanders with about $7.5 million dollars left to sign their franchise center. This is probably not enough to sign Barzal. But Lou Lamoriello can just send someone down or put Andrew Ladd on LTIR and solve this cap space issue. I believe the deal will come in at around $8.5-$9 million dollars. So, my final prediction for Mat Barzal’s new contract is 3 years worth $8.7 million a year.

New York Islanders: Why the Islanders missed out on top free agents

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders yet again missed out on another top tier free agent for what seems like the 20th year in a row. This time, it’s not because of poor team success or lack of an actual home stadium. No, this time there was a different reason for why the Isles couldn’t sign a top guy.

Mike Hoffman would’ve helped out the Islanders scoring situation tremendously. The same goes for Anthony Duclair and even Andreas Athanasiou. But, there’s no reason to look at the past and say who the Isles should’ve signed. There is one key reason why the Islanders couldn’t sign anyone of importance. It was a waiting game, and the season was announced before a key person was signed.

Mat Barzal

The Islanders couldn’t make a single move until their top guy actually re-signed. And as everyone knows, Mat Barzal still doesn’t have a contract. The Islanders weren’t going to make a move that took up a bunch of cap space until Barzal signed.

I’ve seen a bunch of people call for Lou Lamoriello’s head because he couldn’t sign Duclair for $1 million dollars. The Islanders aren’t loaded with cap space, every dollar counts for this team. The Isles only have around $9.5 million in cap space left, and their franchise guy hasn’t even signed yet.

Also, they still have deals for Matt Martin, Corey Schneider, and Andy Greene that still have to be made official. So, it’s not like the Islanders can just sign anyone they feel like. This isn’t NHL 21 connected franchise mode, there’s no option to play without a salary cap.