New York Islanders: Analyzing the Seattle expansion draft

New York Islanders, Anders Lee

The New York Islanders have a big decision to make when the Seattle Kraken joins the league. The rules must be followed as such. Each team has the choice to either protect 7 forward, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie. Or, they can protect 8 total skaters and 1 goalie. It makes sense for the Islanders to follow the first option, as they have more talented skaters up and down the roster. The Islanders also have an exempt list full of young players who they don’t have to protect because they can’t be chosen. This list contains players like Oliver Wahlstrom, Ilya Sorokin, Noah Dobson, Anatoly Golyshev, Bode Wilde, and Samuel Bolduc. There are obviously more players on that list, but those are the key ones. Who will the Islanders protect?

Forwards

The Islanders can only protect 7 forward, and most of their choices are pretty obvious. Anders Lee, Mat Barzal, JG Pageau, Brock Nelson, Jordan Eberle, and Anthony Beauvillier. This leaves one spot left with a bunch of forwards vying for that spot. I don’t believe the Kraken would take Casey Cizikas just because his contract is expiring this year. This leaves Josh Bailey, Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck, Leo Komarov, Michael Dal Colle, and Kieffer Bellows left. The Kraken aren’t going to take Clutterbuck, Martin, Komarov, or Dal Colle. If you’re looking at the most valuable, it’s a decision between Bellows and Bailey. Honestly, I’d leave Bailey unprotected; he hasn’t really ever met that potential that he had when he was drafted. It’s possible he doesn’t get picked because of his large contract.

Defensemen

This decision is pretty easy due to the fact that Noah Dobson doesn’t have to be protected. Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech are going to be protected, not that shocked anyone. Scott Mayfield, Nick Leddy, Andy Greene, Thomas Hickey, Parker Wotherspoon, and Sebastian Aho are left. Based on age and value, Andy Greene and Thomas Hickey are not getting picked at all. Parker Wotherspoon and Sebastian Aho are unproven, so they’re out of the question. Nick Leddy 100% gets protected over Scott Mayfield based on production.

Goalies

It’s not even a question of who the Islanders are going to protect. It’s between their franchise goalie Semyon Varlamov and their third-string goalie Cory Schneider. At the end of the day, Cory Schneider is not getting protected, but he most likely won’t get picked.

Josh Bailey’s absence could open up big opportunity for some of the kids on the Islanders

It took one week into the 2020-21 season, but the Islanders have finally been hit with their first COVID-19 situation.

Josh Bailey, who was missing from practice yesterday for which the team didn’t give an explanation, was placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list last night. Bailey being on the updated ledger was first reported by ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski and later confirmed by The Athletic’s Arthur Staple.

Now it’s has not been said that Bailey did indeed test positive for COVID-19; there might be light shed on the situation after the Islanders skate this morning. But it’s easy to assume he that he has has the virus or came in contact with someone who’s had it.

With that said — and the hope is it’s the total opposite of what many suspect — Bailey’s possible absence could open up the door for a few of the Isles forwards to get a chance to play.

Starting with Kieffer Bellows, he was already in Bailey’s second-line spot yesterday with Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier. So it’s safe to say if Bailey is out, that could be Bellows role for a little bit.

Bellows when he was drafted was projected to be a top-six forward, but hasn’t gotten the opportunity to be in that spot. He played third-line wing in his short stint last season and started this year in the same role. That particular spot is still a bit of an open competition. Bellows though has done a commendable job thus far and has gotten from head coach Barry Trotz.

“A little bit of limited ice time but I was very comfortable with Kieffer’s game,” Trotz said to the media after the Isles’ win on Monday. “I thought he and Ross Johnston did a good job of establishing a forecheck and a physical game. My comfort level is good with both of those guys.”

If Bellows gets second line duties, Oliver Wahlstrom or Dmytro Timashov could finally get some game action on the third line. So too could Austin Czarnik or Otto Koivula.

All four players have yet to appear in a game while making up the mandated taxi squad.

Trotz has alluded to possibly making changes just to keep his guys and the opposition on their toes, and those four players are all suitable options. With Leo Komarov and Michael Dal Colle (coming back from injury) still on the fringe as well, they all have the ability to provide a shot in the arm for a bottom-six which has only accounted for one of the five Islanders goals through three games.

Missing Bailey for a bit might hurt the Islanders. He’s one of their most important two-way forwards and a reliable asset. But it could be a blessing in disguise.

That being an opportunity for some of the kids on the team to make some noise with him out.

For as much turbulence as there’s been in the relationship between the Islanders and Josh Ho-Sang, there’s obviously still hope there he has a future in the organization.

In a column from The Athletic today, Barry Trotz showed his support for Ho-Sang, who just began his new opportunity with Orebro over in Sweden.

“He’s a talented young man with a lot of skills,” Trotz said. “Just let him play in Europe, it could be great for him. Maybe the player in him just puts it together this year. I hope he has a ton of success there.”

The Islanders’ transition to UBS Arena continues to get closer each day. And with that there’s always new updates.

Last night was the latest and two things were made crystal clear: the facility will be home to the best ice in the NHL and the building will be ready for the start of next season “no matter what”.

The full clip from the team can be seen below:

 

New York Islanders: Addressing the Josh Bailey trade rumors

Josh Bailey, New York Islanders

There recently has been rumors over long time New York Islanders forward, Josh Bailey. Jimmy Murphy, from Florida Hockey Now, has stated that the Islanders might trade Bailey due to limited cap space left to resign Mat Barzal.

I’m here to put all these rumors to bed once and for all. Josh Bailey has played 865 NHL games in his career, and all 865 games are with the Islanders. That might not mean something in other sports, but it does in Hockey. Bailey could’ve left for any other team, but he continually chooses the Island over all others. Also, Josh Bailey continues to improve his play each year. Don’t look at the stats, look at how he plays and how it affects his linemates. The Islanders won’t trade Josh Bailey.

The reasoning behind this rumor is questionable in the first place. Jimmy Murphy decided to write an opinion piece which is normal. And his piece was that the Islanders might trade away Bailey so that they can resign Mat Barzal. It’s just an idea, just a hypothetical situation. But, somehow this piece gets blown out of proportion and now it’s a full-blown rumor.

Josh Bailey will not be traded and that surprises no Islanders’ fans. The Islanders will get rid of one of their other big money guys like Johnny Boychuk to compensate for Barzal’s return. I’d assume Boychuk and both second-round picks to somewhere.  Islanders’ fans shouldn’t worry as number 12 won’t be heading anywhere other than the rafters.

New York Islanders: 3 Stars of the Game 3 Win

Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have made the Eastern Conference Finals a real series. Game 3 was easily one of the most entertaining games of the 2020 playoffs. The Islanders played their hearts out, and it shows. A mix of desperation and frustration led them to clutch out the win. There were three stars that led the Islanders to victory last night. Their efforts did not go unrecognized, and honestly, I believe three stars are too little to show how good the Isles played last night. But, without further ado, here are the three stars of the night.

Semyon Varlamov

Amazing is almost an insult to how Semyon Varlamov played last night. Varly single handily kept the Islanders’ hopes alive. There were 3 or 4 sequences from the Lightning last night that should’ve been goals, but Varlamov stood on his head. I don’t know what changed for Varlamov from the regular season to the playoffs, but he’s just been fantastic. Even though he did let in 3 goals, there was a possibility it could’ve been 6. The Isles fans are 110% behind their outstanding goalie.

The 4th line

I have to include the entire 4th line here because, oh my god, what a game they played. J.G. Pageau was acting like a goon out there, and he’s a foot shorter than every other player. Not only did Pageau play like an enforcer, but he got an assist on the beautiful Adam Pelech goal and scored the empty-net goal. Don’t forget about the line clearing brawl at the end of the game. Victor Hedman had to save Kucherov from Pageau. Matt Martin continued his hot streak and played amazing defense. Great forechecking as well, as always, and he clocked Barclay Goodrow in the back of the head six times. Sydney Martin has got to be proud of her husband. Also, can’t forget about Cal Clutterbuck sniping Vasilevskiy to open up the scoring. 4th line looked amazing even without Casey Cizikas playing.

The “B” line

When the “B” line gets hot, it’s normally “goodnight Jim Kite.” Josh Bailey had two assists last night as he continues his quest for the Conn Smythe. Anthony Beauvillier scored last night on a beautiful play from Brock Nelson. Not only that, but Beauvillier assisted Nelson’s game-winning goal with a beautiful turn around pass. Brocktober came early Isles fans. Brock Nelson was in prime form last night and would win the game for the Isles. The second line continues to be dangerous.

Honorable Mention

Also, as an honorable mention, what a game for Adam Pelech. Pelech scored his first career playoff goal, so congratulations to him. It was a total snipe, and it got all the Islanders fans excited. Especially the #pelechposse created by Jake Basile (a.k.a. @BathtubJake on Instagram). Pelech was thumping too, a bunch of big hits for the big man. Great game from a shutdown defenseman.

New York Islanders: Barry Trotz must Change the Lineup for Game 7

New York islanders, Jordan Eberle

The New York Islanders have blown their 3-1 lead against the Philadelphia Flyers. Game 7 is on Saturday, and the Islanders need to make some lineup changes. With little to no momentum on their side, the Islanders need to come out swinging. Not literally swinging, but pressuring the Flyers as they did in game 1. I’ve penciled in 3 lineup changes that I believe are detrimental for the Islanders to close out the series.

Thomas Greiss

Before overtime, the Flyers had 20 shots on net, and the Islanders had 50. What was the score, you wonder? 4-4. One out of every five shots that the Flyers took went in. This is not how you win a series. Thomas Greiss is the only solution to this problem. Greiss made some huge saves during game four as the Islanders took a 3-1 lead in the series. Griess isn’t always the most reliable, but Varlamov isn’t either right now. It’s a risky move for sure, but I believe this change must occur.

Tom Kuhnhackl

Tom Kuhnhackl was excellent against the Florida Panthers and was only taken out because of the Isles’ inability to stop the power-play. Now, the Flyers’ power-play is even worse than the Islanders’. Komarov isn’t better than Kuhnhackl on offense, and the offense is what the Islanders need right now. Kuhnhackl’s forechecking works perfectly with Pageau’s ability to jump up on the defense. You can either play Kuhnhackl and get more offense or stick with Komarov and see what works.

Jordan Eberle

Jordan Eberle had at least four chances to end the series last night. Playoff Eberle has fallen off the map completely. He’s taking enough shots, but none of them are going in. I believe he has to move down a line. I don’t know who you would move up because the “B-B-B” line is doing so well. Maybe moving Josh Bailey up a line is the right move, but that’s Trotz’s decision.

Conclusion

The Islanders only have one more shot at winning this series. This is the biggest game in Islanders’ history in 27 years. The pressure is on.

New York Islanders: 3 Key Players to Game 4’s Win

Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders

As New York Islanders‘ head coach Barry Trotz said, “that was the worst game that we’ve played to this point in the playoffs.” I don’t think the Islanders played terrible last night, but they weren’t good. Nevertheless, the Islanders take a 3-1 series lead. And for the first time in 27 years, the Islanders could be headed to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Islanders are clicking right now, and it’s a scary sight for all other teams. There were three key players to last night’s win, and they deserve to be recognized for their efforts.

Thomas Greiss

This was possibly Thomas Greiss’ last game as an Islander. Greiss gave it his all, as he made 36 saves on 38 shots. Greiss made some of the hardest saves look insanely easy. The Islanders are unbeatable when their goalies are clicking. Greiss didn’t make any mistakes last night. As Thomas Greiss said, “it’s not rocket science out there, just stop the puck.” Greiss gets the first star of the night for sure. If this is his last game, thank you, Greisser, for everything.

Brock Nelson

Who knew it could be Brocktober in Paugaust? Brock Nelson finally broke his cold streak and put up two goals last night. This is only the beginning of his hot streak; once Brock gets on a roll, he’s impossible to stop. Nelson possesses the best shot on the team by far. When he’s in front of the net with no one around him, you can bet on Nelson burying it top corner. The Islanders are dangerous even when Nelson wasn’t clicking; what’s going to happen to the league when he clicks?

Scott Mayfield

I’ve said it once, I will say it again; Scott Mayfield won the Islanders the game last night. Mayfield basically said, “okay, I’ve had it, this game is going to be over because I want it to be, I’m tying the puck up, outmuscle me.” And no one was able to outmuscle Mayfield at all. For the last 18 seconds, Mayfield kept the puck on the boards. Mayfield has a purpose, and he fulfilled it. Mayfield also got on the scorer’s sheet last night with an assist.

Honorable Mentions

Josh Bailey has to be mentioned as one of the top players. Bailey is now point per game in the playoffs. He is also tied for 4th in the NHL in assists during the playoffs. Bailey is the anchor of the B-B-B line and creates offense for everyone around him. Bailey has been criticized for too long; hopefully, now the criticisms will stop. JG Pageau deserves a mention as well because he’s the do it all guy. Lou Lamoriello should get a parade through the streets of Long Island for that trade. Pageau is tied for 3rd in playoff goals this season. How many playoff goals does that late first-round pick have again?

Conclusion

The Islanders are one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Soak it in Isles fans, the day you’ve dreamt about is almost here. Nine more wins and you’re lifting the Stanley Cup. The Islanders play the Flyers on Tuesday at 7 pm ET.

New York Islanders: Who Will the Islanders Protect from the Expansion Draft?

New York Islanders, Anders Lee

It’s every general manager’s least favorite part of expanding, the expansion draft. Every team must give up at least one player to the newly added Seattle Krakens. Sadly, with a New York Islanders team full of young and bright forwards, one of the more experienced players will get the ax. Here are my predictions for who will be left exposed for the Krakens to sweep up.

The Rules

Managers are only allowed to either protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie. The Islanders will choose to protect more skaters. The NHL also states that if a player has a no-trade clause, and refuses to waive the clause, the team must protect that skater. All first and second-year players, along with unsigned draft picks, will be protected and won’t count to the protection limit number. Players who have had a career or season-ending injury may not be selected unless the NHL approves the selection. Teams can also make trades to sway the team from choosing a specific player.

Protected Forwards

Lou Lamoriello must protect the captain Anders Lee, the star Mat Barzal, the up-and-coming Anthony Beauvillier; the newly acquire J.G. Pageau, the goal-scoring Brock Nelson, and the two-way star Casey Cizikas. This leaves one spot left for an established forward. This spot will be given to either Josh Bailey or Jordan Eberle. Lou Lamoriello will protect Jordan Eberle over Josh Bailey. Eberle is just a better goal scorer and a better fit for the Islanders than Bailey is. Even though Josh Bailey has been with the Islanders for over 12 years now, Lamoriello will choose to protect Eberle. The Islanders must be glad that they don’t have to protect Kieffer Bellows or Oliver Wahlstrom.

Protected Defenseman

Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech are the obvious choices of who to protect. This leaves one spot left for the remaining defensemen. I believe Devon Toews will take up that last spot. Scott Mayfield is a candidate to take that last spot, but his consistency in taking penalties in the last 5 minutes is harmful to the team. Again, the Islanders must be glad that they don’t have to protect Noah Dobson.

Protected Goalie

Since the Islanders don’t have to protect Ilya Sorokin, Seymon Varlamov will be protected. There’s no other goalie who should or even could be protected on the team. This depends on if the Islanders choose to sign a UFA goalie this offseason. I don’t believe Lamoriello will waste money on a position he won’t have to worry about for at least the next ten years.

Conclusion

The Seattle Krakens will gain a solid two-way forward in Josh Bailey. The Islanders will gain $6 million dollars in salary-cap space. The Islanders will also gain another spot for a young forward like Simon Holmstrom or possibly Cole Coskey. The fans definitely won’t be happy about losing Josh Bailey, but they’ll have to deal with the loss.

Islanders players skating once again provides sense of normalcy

Josh Bailey, New York Islanders

Josh Bailey was among the first groups of players to resume skating yesterday at the New York Islanders’ practice facility after almost three months away.

Bailey was joined along with Matt Martin, Johnny Boychuk, Cal Clutterbuck, and goalie Thomas Greiss, as they took part in the start of Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return to Play Plan. Scott Mayfield, Devon Toews, and Bridgeport Sound Tigers netminder, Christopher Gibson, were all too inside Isles facility, but there was no confirmation as to whether they skated.

Still, in that one instance, it felt as though a sense of normalcy had returned for the first time in a long time.

“It was nice to feel the puck,” Bailey told reporters over a Zoom conference call late yesterday afternoon. “We didn’t go too crazy on Day 1, but nonetheless, it was fun to get out there.”

Bailey’s quote was a nice reminder of how long it’s been since hockey has been at the forefront of players and the fan’s minds.

When the Isles’, and the entire NHL, had to put the season on hold back in early March, the team was struggling to stay in the mix for the postseason. They were on the Western Canada swing of their schedule and were trying to find a win after a 0-3-4 skid. But all that took a backseat to real life when the coronavirus pandemic began to rock the country and the world. What followed was a lot of fear, angst, and uncertainty.

It was a good first step,” said Bailey. “I don’t know if there’s been a hardest part. Just the unknown. Even outside of hockey, the unknown. We can all relate to that. You didn’t know when things could potentially start up.”

Hearing Boychuk and Clutterbuck were out there with Bailey also was a great development.

Boychuk, who took a skate to the face in the Islanders’ loss to the Montreal Canadiens the week prior to the stoppage, was missing from the Islanders’ lineup, and his status to return was up in the air. The latter, Clutterbuck, he to was also trying to re-establish himself before the hiatus. He had returned at the end of February, but it was clear he still wasn’t 100% after suffering a cut to the wrist when Bruins’ forward Patrice Bergeron’s skate caught him back in December.

The last two of the group, Martin and Greiss, might have been the least surprising to be there. Martin had stayed on Long Island through the entire shutdown with wife Sydney, who is expected to give birth in July. Greiss followed Martin’s lead, but he spent most of his quarantine working out and finding new hobbies with his wife, Brittany. 

More groups of Islanders are expected to be making their way on the ice again, and soon the coaching staff. Which means it’s full steam ahead to the proposed opening of training camp next month and playoffs.

Things have changed for a lot of people,” Bailey added. “it’s not a typical schedule we’d be used to. Instead of getting ready for a training camp that goes into the beginning of the season, you’re starting off with playoffs. That’s even more motivation to be sure you’re ready to go.”

Bailey is right. Things aren’t the same. But yesterday felt a little different. Normalcy seemed to set back in.

And hopefully, it stays that way moving forward.