New York Islanders: Round 2 Matchup Breakdown

Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders will face off against the Philidelphia Flyers in round 2 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is an intriguing matchup for sure; both teams match up pretty evenly. The Flyers come into this series as the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders come into this series as the underdog. Are the Flyers really the best team in the East? Are the Islanders really the underdogs in this series?

Forwards

During the regular season, the Flyers’ forward group was among one of the most dangerous in the league. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, and Kevin Hayes led this group of amazing forwards. Recently though, the Flyers’ top forwards have been slacking in production. Voracek leads the Flyers in points with 8. It’s not like they aren’t producing, they just aren’t living up to expectations.

The Islanders’ forward group is so very confusing. Josh Bailey leads the Isles in points with 10. 8 of those 10 points are assists; Bailey has quietly become one of the best passers left in the playoffs. Other forwards like Anthony Beauvillier, JG Pageau, and Brock Nelson continue to impress. Also, Mat Barzal has recently been picking his play up. I’d still give the advantage to the Flyers, though. The Isles forwards were a little too streaky during the season, but their playoff performances speak for themselves, though.

Defenseman

The Islanders would be the better defensive team even if it was Griffin Reinhart out there with Brian Strait. Barry Trotz makes the Isles the best defensive team. Especially with talented defenders like Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Devon Toews, the Isles might have the best defensive scheme in all of Hockey. Ryan Pulock has a booming slapper, while Adam Pelech has amazing stick play. Devon Toews is a fast two-way defender, and Scott Mayfield is an enforcer who can kill the power-play. Andy Greene and Nick Leddy are the two oldies who can still hold their own offensively and defensively. Yes, I know the Flyers have Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbhere, but they don’t have Barry Trotz. Isles are better defensively.

Goalies

This is a really even matchup for the goalies. Semyon Varlamov has been nothing short of spectacular as of late. Varlamov currently has a 1.59 GAA and a .935 save percentage with one shutout. Carter Hart has really anchored this Philly team and shown them the power of a good goalie. Hart boasts a 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with two shutouts. This means Varlamov is letting in fewer goals, but Hart is making more saves. This is a tie for me; both goalies are really good. I guarantee that whoever loses this series won’t be blaming it on their goaltender.

Conclusion

This is a good and close series—two teams, who have similar talents, facing off in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Neither team is hungrier than the other. May the best team win, and may the refs not be blind.

New York Islanders: Trade Options for Nick Leddy

New York Islanders, Nick Leddy

The New York Islanders traded for Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy in 2014. The package was Nick Leddy for Ville Pokka, T.J. Brennan, and Anders Nilsson. Safe to say that the Islanders won this trade. The Islanders then resigned Leddy to a seven-year deal worth $38.5 million in 2015. Leddy has served the Isles well for five years now, but it could be time to get rid of his ginormous contract. Arthur Staple has recently stated that the Devils, Sabres, and Red Wings are all pursuing Leddy. The price starts with at least a 2nd round pick and another piece. Let’s review these options.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils are an up-and-coming team, and by up-and-coming, I mean they’re at the bottom of the league, but they’re young. The Devils need talent, and Leddy isn’t the bell of the ball, but he’s better than what they have. I see the deal as being Nick Leddy for Nick Merkley, a 2nd round pick and a 5th round pick. It’s not the most appealing package for the Isles, but the Devils have nothing to offer.

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres continue their trend of being the best team in the league until December. The Sabres do have younger prospects, but no salary cap space. I can see the Sabres having to give up more of an established forward to obtain Leddy. I don’t believe the Sabres could get the deal done without giving up a key piece of their team due to their cap issues. Leddy isn’t a cheap contract by any means, and that means teams will have to lose good players to get him.

Detroit Red Wings

This is the worst team in the league without a doubt; there’s nothing that anybody can say that will reverse this fact. The Wings also have zero to no guys to trade away right now. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say they trade away Robby Fabri and a 4th round pick for Nick Leddy. The WIngs don’t have cap space and have to resign key players like Anthony Mantha, so taking Fabri off their hands will be good for all. The Isles get a 3rd line winger for Pageau, and the Red Wings cry themselves to sleep thinking about Alexis Lafreniere.