As we continue to sift through the dog days of August before talk of training camp begins, things continue to remain extremely quiet on the Islanders’ front. But that doesn’t mean it’s never a bad thing to look ahead.
I wrote earlier this week Zach Parise is primed to have a bounce-back season wherever he’s suiting up. It’s all but confirmed he will be an Islander, despite the team still not providing any formal announcement. Once the Isles do make his signing official, things will shift to where he’s used by head coach Barry Trotz in the lineup.
Several projections have Parise slotting in on the third line as the Isles’ top-six, barring another trade or signing, looks all but set with Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, Kyle Palmieri (also re-signed), Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier. If that is indeed the role he’s given, Parise will most likely be linemates along with J.G. Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom.
Having those three on a line together has the chance to add a big boost to the Islanders’ attack.
Pageau is coming into this year fully healthy after he suffered an injury in the playoffs. He was a force for the Islanders before a broken hand compromised his ability to contribute. Wahlstrom will too be back on the mend after suffering a setback in the Penguins series that kept him out the rest of the postseason. This will be his second season after a solid rookie campaign where he tallied 21 points in 44 games. He is expected to be a full-time regular and one of the Islanders’ more prominent scoring threats with Jordan Eberle departing for Seattle. Parise, as stated already, is motivated to find his game again after having the last four years of his contract bought out by his hometown Minnesota Wild.
Wahlstrom and Pageau already have chemistry going back to last season when the freshman forward was inserted next to the Ottawa native during the Isles’ hot streak in March. They meshed really well together and gave the Islanders a solid one-two punch outside their top-nine. There was an even stronger connection in the postseason before Wahlstrom went down. And they like each other.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) February 28, 2021
“His attitude is top-notch on and off the ice,” Pageau said about Wahlstrom during the year. “He’s doing the right things and paying attention to all the details and that’s how you get better… He’s doing everything possible to be apart of this team.”
“My guy. He’s just awesome,” was how Wahlstrom described Pageau. “He’s a guy I really look up to and I love being around him.”
The addition of Parise though adds another intriguing factor. He will bring some much-needed offense to a line usually considered the checking line. Everyone can point to his disappointing campaign last year — 18 points in 45 games — but he’s still a capable contributor.
Prior to last year, Parise combined for 53 goals from 2018 to 2020.
What also should be acknowledged: Wahlstrom will also have the opportunity to learn from one of the best veterans in the league.
Pageau is a great mentor to have, but Parise held the captaincy during his tenure in New Jersey, where ironically he was under the watch of current Islanders boss Lou Lamoriello. He was also an assistant for many years with the Wild. That kind of experience will be vital for Wahlstrom, who is still has a ton of room to grow.
As a whole, the Pageau-Wahlstrom-Parise trio has all the makings of a very being very effective if formed. Each player brings something different to the table.
The Islanders offense is expected to be better from previous years, and these three can be a big part of it.