Islanders’ Ryan Pulock finally scoring could open up the floodgates for him down the stretch

It took over three-quarters of this abbreviated season, but Ryan Pulock finally has a goal to his stat line. Pulock’s tally, the game-winner in the Islanders’ OT win on Sunday night against the Rangers, finally got the monkey off his back after he had been snakebitten all year.

With that elusive marker, there’s not just a sense of relief but hopefully some confidence that Pulock will start to hit the net more as the season winds down in the next few weeks.

“Obviously for me, throughout my career I’ve been able to score a little bit,” Pulock said postgame on Sunday. “To go through a little slump like that is tough, and as the games wore on, it got tougher. I knew I just needed to get that one and obviously it came in a big moment. I’m excited about that.”

Pulock had come into this season with big expectations after a very solid postseason and a brand new two-year, $10 million deal in his back pocket. Providing extra offense was one of added pressures of his new contract, that in part because he had registered 29 goals the last three seasons. The Isles had also parted ways with their best offensive d-man Devon Toews dealing him to Colorado in the offseason too, which was only going to put more work on Pulock’s plate.

After the first six games of the season, you could sense a theme that the Winnipeg native was having trouble converting. Pulock had already recorded 11 shots in that time. Those stretches became weeks. Weeks became months. The frustration for the 26-year-old and among the fans reached an even bigger point because outside of scoring, Pulock has been playing the best hockey of his career. But the fact still remained: everyone else on the Islanders’ defense besides Pulock — outside of Thomas Hickey whom played a few games — had scored.

What made everyone scratch their head more was it wasn’t like Pulock wasn’t getting chances. Before Sunday’s winner, Pulock had recorded 90 shots, third-most of any player on the club all season and team-leading in terms of defense. If that doesn’t show he was due, I don’t know what will.

Pulock’s grip on his stick should be a little looser with that first goal in the rear view. It should lead to a few more goals for him before the regular season ends next month. The Islanders could certainly use his scary shot as their power play has struggled again of late, but also knowing the team has only received two goals from a d-man in regulation out of the last 12 games. Those came off the sticks of Sebastian Aho and Andy Greene.

The Islanders are a better team when Pulock is able to score when he’s given opportunities. They’ve been good this season even without that element. But Pulock is finally on the board now. That should be the spark needed for his scoring touch to show out again. And if that’s the case, the Isles will have another advantage at their disposal.

The Isles getting their three-day hiatus might have come at the perfect time. Having played three games in four nights, five in eight days, the team looked a little tired over the weekend against the Rangers. The break should also be crucial for newly acquired Kyle Palmieri, who scored his first as an Islander on Sunday, and Travis Zajac to get more associated with the team and head coach Barry Trotz’s systems.

Both TSN and The Athletic named the Islanders one of their winners of this year’s trade deadline. Hard not to agree as g.m. Lou Lamoriello addressed every area of need and gave up very little doing so.

The Islanders are “All In” with their latest move

All In.

That was the feeling that took over the blue and orange cult of fans that make up Islanders Country just before 8PM last night, when news broke that the team had acquired forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for two picks — a 2021 first-rounder, 2022 conditional fourth-rounder — and minor leaguers Mason Jobst and A.J. Greer. And with that one move the Isles made their intentions clear to the rest of the division and the league for that matter: they believe they can win a Stanley Cup.

Anticipation had been building that g.m. Lou Lamoriello was going to strike sometime before the trade deadline next Monday. Even prior to captain Anders Lee going down with a season-ending injury last month, there was plenty of chatter the Isles would be buyers. Lee’s setback only increased that thinking, as did his $7M cap hit which now became available for the organization to use. It seemed like something was afoot too from the outside when the organization’s top targets, Palmieri and Buffalo’s Taylor Hall, were being sat out by their respective teams over the past few games. Well, Lamoriello chose what he believed to be the better package, getting a two-for-one special.

The way the team responded to [Lee’s injury] and the way they came together, certainly played a role in whatever I could do to get them some support and some help,” Lamoriello said to the media following the deal. “Certainly a first round pick is what it is. I’m extremely excited about the young players we have and how they’ve come along and how they are going to gain experience through this process. I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all making the decision, especially when you’re able to acquire the two players that we did in Kyle and Travis.”

Palmieri and Zajac both bring something different to the table that won’t only help the Islanders down the stretch but in what they hope to be another long postseason run. The 30-year-old Smithtown, Long Island native brings his goal-scoring prowess to an already well-balanced attack. As my friend and colleague James Nichols pointed out this morning, Palmieri has scored 140 goals since the 2015-16 season & is scoring at a 41-point pace in 2020-21(19 goals, 22 assists). His teammate Zajac bolsters an already formidable bottom-six, is a stout penalty killer and brings plenty of veteran and championship experience. Zajac was on the Lamoriello-led Devils squad that made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.

He also waived his full no-move clause for the trade to go down yesterday.

That’s a testament to how the Islanders are viewed as a franchise now, one that keeps trending in the right direction and is going for it. “It’s a bolt of energy for sure,” Zajac said. “You’re excited to come in this situation and coming to a team that just does things the right way. They know how to win.”

The Islanders have been in “win-now” mode since Lamoriello arrived three years ago. He struck out the first time when he went for Mark Stone. Last year, he made his mark to get his club reinforcements — Andy Greene and J.G. Pageau — in the wake of devastating injuries. We all saw how those deals have played out. They’ve been a rousing success. But this time, he made moves to make a statement. That’s what Palmieri and Zajac are.

Lamoriello believes this group is good enough to win a Cup this year. He might not be done either.

One thing is certain, winning at all cost is the expectation now for the Isles. The moment was seized to get better and from here on forward this team is all-in on getting to the promise land.

 

New York Islanders: What will the lines look like after the Palmieri trade?

The New York Islanders have successfully completed two huge trades for top 6 forwards in the past two years. Last year, General Manager Lou Lamoriello traded away a bundle of picks for JG Pageau. That trade was regarded as one of the best trades of last year and possibly recent Islander history. Lamoriello might’ve struck gold two years in a row as he completed another trade with the New Jersey Devils last night.

The Islanders acquired Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac for this year’s first-rounder, Mason Jobst, AJ Greer, and a conditional fourth-round pick. The Islanders added 2 impact forwards who will be plugged into the lineup and play as soon as possible. Where will the new additions play, though?

Kyle Palmieri

Kyle Palmieri should be playing on Mat Barzal’s left-wing as he replaces fringe bottom 6 forward Leo Komarov. This move will undoubtedly improve Mat Barzal and Jordan Eberle’s assist and goal numbers. Palmieri brings the same physicality that Anders Lee always brought to the table. But, Palmieri also has an elite shot that Anders Lee does not possess. The only problem with Palmieri being on the first line is the fact that the Islanders would be brandishing three right-handed forwards on one line. It’s not a huge problem, as the second line powerplay features all left-handers, but it’s something to look out for. Palmieri brings a clutch factor that hasn’t been seen on the Island in forever and a nice power-play presence.

Travis Zajac

Travis Zajac was an interesting last-minute addition to the Kyle Palmieri trade. I believe the only reason the Devils added him to the trade was the fact that they didn’t want to resign him. Or, they felt that they couldn’t get a first-round pick for just Palmieri. Whatever the reason may be, the Islanders walk away with another good center. Zajac should not be playing center for the Islanders, though, as the Isles already have 4 good/great centers. Zajac will have to move to wing for the first time in his long, storied career. I believe he will fit in nicely on JG Pageau’s left-wing, as Oliver Wahlstrom stays at right-wing. Zajac brings experience, an excellent faceoff percentage, and an ability to play on the power play/kill.

The Islanders’ win last night might have been their most impressive all season

There’s been a lot of efforts from the Islanders out of their first 39 games that can be spotlighted for how good they were. None though might have been more important and more impressive than last night’s 1-0 shutout win over the Washington Capitals, which put them back in a tie for first place in the MassMutual East Division, and had a playoff-feel to it from start to finish.

The two teams met just six days ago with the Isles putting up an eight spot on the Caps in a 8-4 win. So you would think last night’s tilt would be the polar opposite. You’d be correct. But from an Islanders perspective, the game played right into their wheelhouse — low-scoring and tight checking.

The difference though is that last night, there were very few instances — a couple shifts in the second period — during the contest where the Blue and Orange weren’t the better team. From the outset, they peppered Capitals netminder Vitek Vanecek, who was tremendous all game. The Isles ended the night with 39 shots on goal, 20 of those which came in the third. If not for all the posts and crossbars they clanked, the final score could have read differently in their favor. All four lines had chances and were rolling for the entire game, and it was more than noticeable in the final frame leading up to Brock Nelson’s game-winner which came with just before the seven minute mark of the third.

“We just wanted to stick with it, elevate our game and pick up the pace a little more in the third,” Nelson told reporters in the postgame. “I thought we did that. We had quite a few good looks. We weren’t able to capitalize, but we found a way going into the third to win a hockey game, which is huge.”

From a defensive and goaltending standpoint, the performance was spectacular. Semyon Varlamov looked locked in from the get-go and he made some game-saving stops in what could be argued as his best game of the year. The Isles’ D held the Caps first line — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov — to a combined five shots all game. True to their identity, they also shut the game down once they had the late lead.

A game like the Isles played last night showed why they are one of the better teams in the league. Considering the opponent and the stakes raised from their previous encounter, that type of effort is essential for what they will need to go far in the postseason again.

Make no mistake, Barry Trotz’s crew has had some great wins as the season has rolled along. Two of their five over Boston — the comeback win three weeks ago and the 7-2 shellacking in late February — definitely are right up there. But yesterday’s win felt bigger.

There’s still another 17 games left to play in the regular season, and their could be other efforts that are better by the time the season concludes. Until then, the Islanders’ triumph over the Caps last night qualifies for their most impressive all year long.

We all know how excellent Adam Pelech is as a defenseman. But he seems to love to take it to another level when tasked with stopping Alex Ovechkin.

Pelech left an indelible mark on Ovi with his shutdown performance of him in the bubble postseason last summer when the Islanders and Caps met in the second round. He was at it again last night, as seen by the clip below.

Hats off to Leo Komarov who was superb throughout the entire win last night. Uncle Leo did a little bit of everything to help contribute. He even came close to scoring and assisting on a chance late in regulation by Mathew Barzal which would have doubled the Isles’ lead.

Brock Nelson has rebounded nicely for the Islanders after slow start to season

If you’ve watched the Islanders from their first few weeks of the season and what has transpired since up until the present day, you would say it’s been a tale of two seasons.

Forward Brock Nelson has followed the same path.

The Warroad, MN native struggled mightily out of the gate, recording just three points in the first nine games of the season. He looked out of sync at both ends of the ice, as did his linemates who made up the second line. It felt as if Nelson, the Isles’ most consistent forward the previous two seasons, needed a bit of a reset to get himself going. Then came the pause in the team’s season the first week of February, as a result of the Buffalo Sabres dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak; the Islanders were supposed to play Buffalo twice that week.

That break, when it’s all said and done, might have been what turned the Isles’ season around. Furthermore, it might have also been a blessing in disguise for Nelson. The first game back against Pittsburgh, he recorded an assist and had his strongest performance of the season playing on a newly-formed line with Jordan Eberle and Michael Dal Colle.

Following that game, Nelson has recorded 18 points in 28 games. In years past, those kinds of numbers might seem like he’s falling short of expectations because Nelson was depended on to produce at a higher rate. But for how the Isles are currently constructed — now become a well-balanced attack, even with the absence of captain Anders Lee — those a pretty solid numbers.

Nelson’s 13 goals have him in a three-way tie for the team lead with Eberle and Mathew Barzal. Six of those redlights too have come on the power play, a department where both Nelson and the Islanders have made huge strides. He also still has a shot at a third consecutive 20-goal season with 18 games left to play.

What’s also been noticeable has been Nelson’s defensive improvement, perfectly exhibited by his tremendous backcheck to stop a breakaway for Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee last game.

“I have a lot of trust in Nellie’s game over the course of time that I’ve been here,” head coach Barry Trotz noted before the Islanders’ most recent shootout victory Saturday over the Flyers. “And when his line with him and Bails have been together and Beau is over there, that line has given us really good minutes. And when they don’t, it’s noticeable. It’s noticeable to our group. It’s not noticeable to the production and success of the team.”

The Islanders have given Nelson the “A” with Lee now out, and he’s run with it so far. They are going to need his leadership and sound play as they continue to be in a dogfight for the top spot in the MassMutual East Division.

A few weeks into this truncated season, it looked as if Nelson was lost and a step behind. That seems like an afterthought now. He’s recovered quite well.

And with the postseason on the horizon, that is huge for not just him but for where the Isles hope they will be going.

Hard to believe Mathew Barzal hadn’t been named the league’s “First Star of The Week” in his four-year career up until he received the honor yesterday. Barzal has had weeks and runs just like he did last week — seven points in three games, including a five-point explosion against the Capitals last Thursday — but somehow never got top billing.

This will probably be the first of many top star of the week honors Barzal will attain during his career.

Will be great to see one of the OGs back at the Coliseum starting Tuesday. Organist Paul Cartier will make his long-anticipated return after his battle with COVID-19 months ago.

 

 

Why the New York Islanders should stay far away from Taylor Hall

islanders, taylor hall

The New York Islanders are in the trade market after their captain Anders Lee was placed on LTIR with a torn ACL. The Islanders were gifted back Anders Lee’s cap hit for this year, which is about $7 million. The Islanders need a top 6 forward to help out Mat Barzal and Jordan Eberle. There are several targets, and most of them are appealing. Guys like Conor Garland, Phil Kessel, Kyle Palmieri, Dustin Brown, Viktor Arvidsson, and many more. One of these targets, Taylor Hall, is a guy the Islanders need to stay far away from.

The Reasoning

Taylor Hall has been quite rough in his last 2 years as a player and is playing his worst Hockey right now. Currently, this kid has 2 goals, and he played alongside Jack Eichel. I know Eichel wasn’t playing his best Hockey either, but I think his stats would be inflated if Hall actually scored more than once a blue moon. All the fans keep saying is that the Isles need a goal scorer, but when it comes to Hall, there’s an exception. Hall has only one more goal than Michael Dal Colle. Taylor Hall has been on 3 teams, now 4 teams in the last 3 years. That says quite a lot about a player. And it’s gonna take value to actually get hall: Kieffer bellows, a second, and another good player. Hall would only be a half-year rental too, and it’s not worth it.

Other Options

Conor Garland is a perfect top 6 forward for the Islanders for many reasons. Garland is currently rocking 10 goals and 18 assists in 37 games for the Arizona Coyotes. He’s putting up good numbers while having Nick Schmaltz and Michael Bunting on his line. The only problem is that he will be an RFA this offseason and will look for well-deserved big money. I also believe Kyle Palmieri is the best and most realistic trade for the Islanders. Palmieri is already sitting games ahead of the trade deadline, as he currently has 17 points in 34 games. Alongside some struggling young forwards, Palmieri is due for a change of scenery. It’ll be a relatively cheap trade to get him.

An underlying dynamic the Islanders need to get right against the Capitals

For the most part under head coach Barry Trotz, the Islanders have been an exceptional team on home ice, both when they still played in Brooklyn and at Nassau Coliseum. But something has still been amiss for his club against a certain opponent — a division foe I might add — when they have played host to them for the last two-plus seasons.

The Isles are 0-4-0 against the Washington Capitals on home ice since the start of the 2018-19 season.

The most recent matchup when the teams faced off on Long Island was last February — before the coronavirus hit and before they met in Toronto in the bubble postseason — and the Islanders blew a 4-1 lead in the third period only to go on and lose 6-4. The disastrous collapse was compounded with now former-Islander Devon Toews’ mocking of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s bird celebration which left Trotz infuriated.

It’s an odd little factoid, almost as weird as the team not having lost in the nation’s capital for two seasons before they were defeated there back in January. Yet, the dynamic of the Isles’ failures against their D.C. rivals as the home squad is vital, as starting tonight the two squads will meet four more times in the next four weeks — two in the next six days — all at the Coliseum. These are massive points up for grabs.

“It’s a Washington team we haven’t had obviously success against this year, so it will be nice to get them at home in a time where we’re desperate for a win,” Jordan Eberle said this week. “If you look at the last couple of games, we’re moving in the wrong direction, so we want to turn this homestand into some wins and start climbing the standings again.”

The Islanders currently sit two points behind the Caps for the top spot in the East, but the division is still very much up for grabs. Both teams are in a good position to make the postseason and these next few tilts could be the deciding factor of who will be the division champion. Of course, there’s the possibility of the Penguins stealing the top spot, as they’re red hot right now and are within striking distance. Still, the onus is on Mathew Barzal and Co. to take care of business and get the Isles back on track after this fog they’ve been in over the past two weeks.

The Isles have been the best home team in the NHL this season which should also give them a shot in the arm as they welcome Washington for the first time.

With 20 games left in the season, getting even with the Caps could really help propel the Trotz’s skaters in the final stretch of their season. But they need to show they can beat them on home ice.

With the trade deadline 11 days away, the talk about what the Isles and g.m. Lou Lamoriello is only ramping up more and more. There was fire added to those flames last night when TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that there’s heavy speculation the organization could be in on trying to acquire Taylor Hall.

Hall, 29, has been a hot topic among the Islanders faithful even before captain Anders Lee went down with a season-ending ACL injury three weeks ago. His numbers have been awful this year — 18 points in 35 games — but a lot of that could also be attributed to him playing on a historically bad Sabres club.

The Islanders are expected to get d-man Noah Dobson back in the lineup tonight, which could provide a nice boost for the Islanders. The 21-year-old has been out since going on the NHL’s COVID-19 list back on March 14th. Thomas Hickey has been in place of Dobson while he was sidelined and done a serviceable job.

Dobson though elevates the Islanders at both ends of the ice and his steady demeanor is something the team has been missing without him.

It might be time for the Islanders to give Oliver Wahlstrom a shot on the first line

As the Islanders have sputtered a bit of late — 3-4-0 — in their last seven, the pressing need for more offense has reared its ugly head again.

Everyone has been screaming for g.m. Lou Lamoriello to make a deal to help at least solve some of the problem. Fact is the trade deadline is still 13 days away and Lamoriello biding his time and looking over all his options. After all, his most favorite quote goes, “If you have time, use it.”

But now as the Isles begin a crucial six-game homestand which includes two matchups with the division-leading Capitals and the high-powered Rangers, they are going to need their first line to show out. And as we’ve seen since Anders Lee went down a few weeks ago, that line has not had the same impact they were having all season. Head coach Barry Trotz has tried to find the right formula and given Leo Komarov and Kieffer Bellows chances there. Both have been unsuccessful.

So with that said, there might be one option left: giving rookie Oliver Wahlstrom a shot on the top line.

Wahlstrom has proven he’s game for playing in big spots. He was on the ice last week with the Islanders trailing in Philadelphia and with the game tied against Boston, and was the one who ended up getting goals on those shifts. Furthermore, he’s shown an edge to in his style of play that mirrors a bit of how Lee is looked at. Watching the freshman sensation for close to 30 games already, he’s enjoys the physical element and get in the dirty areas, and he hasn’t been afraid to throw his 6’2, 205-pound frame around.

Aside from how it would be a nice promotion for the 20-year-old, and showing how much faith the coaching staff has in him, both Barzal and Jordan Eberle would benefit from a presence like Wahlstrom brings. Wahlstrom could open up more space and allow Barzal and Eberle to flex their offensive muscles that have been taken away as of late. For someone who loves to dish it (Barzal) and Wahlstrom (rip it), the two would be a formidable duo. The line as a unit would also gain from the added jump No. 26 has. With all due respect to Komarov, he’s not built to play first-line minutes, neither from a skill or in speed perspective. Wahlstrom provides both in bunches, as seen from the success he’s had playing with J.G. Pageau a majority of this year.

“His attitude is top-notch on and off the ice,” Pageau said of Wahlstrom last month. “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.”

The Islanders have reached a point where something needs to be done to improve their attack. Their options are limited and some of what they thought were solutions — especially for their top line — clearly haven’t panned out. But one they haven’t tried yet is Wahlstrom being on the first line.

They might be smart to experiment with that idea starting now. They need a spark.

And it’s he who can be it.

Nick Leddy recorded another assist on the lone Islanders’ tally Monday night in Pittsburgh. That gave him four apples in his last three games and 24 total on the season. His career-high is 35, which came back in his third season with the organization back in 2016-17.

With 19 games, it’s not out of the realm that he passes that career best stat.

It’ll be interesting to see if Barry Trotz goes with Ilya Sorokin tomorrow night against Washington. Semyon Varlamov has gotten all the starts when the two teams have met this season, and has yet to record a win. Sorokin himself is coming off a rough performance on Saturday where he gave up four goals on nine shots and was pulled in a 6-3 loss to the Pens.

Islanders’ poor starts lately affecting them where it hurts the most

The Islanders came away with no points last night as they were defeated 2-1 by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Despite them dominating the final 40 minutes of the contest, it was once again another slow start which doomed them early.

This is becoming a concerning trend, one where it’s hurting the Isles where it matters most: in the standings.

“We’re not getting off to the best of starts,” said forward Matt Martin, whose goal was all the Isles mustered offensively last night. “We have a lot of character in the room. We eventually get to our game, find our game and there’s no quit in our game, but it’s not a recipe for success in this league to play from behind.”

Monday night’s defeat marked fifth time in their last six games outside of their 6-1 smashing of Philadelphia the Islanders dug themselves a 2-0 hole; this recent loss being the third straight game it’s happened in the opening period. Slow starts are common during the grind of an NHL season, but those types of numbers aren’t doing the Islanders any favors. They got lucky last Monday because of Ilya Sorokin’s heroics and because of the Flyers ineptitude, and last Thursday in Boston on the back of Semyon Varlamov and their excellent penalty kill.

Even with the cushion the Islanders have given themselves in the East — it’s a ten point gap between them and the  fifth-place Flyers — their starts lately have cost them premium points to keep pace with the division-leading Capitals. Washington seems to not lose at all now, having won ten of their last 11 games. Now granted, the Isles are still in second place as of this morning. But Pittsburgh has turned their season season around and are tied with them after last night. The season series is done between the two teams, something that could be a blessing in disguise for the Isles.

Still, the last two games and this recent stretch leave you a bit worried because as we know the team’s offense sometimes doesn’t have the firepower to get back into games. There is such a small margin for error because of their style of play. That dynamic is only ratcheted up more because of captain Anders Lee’s absence.

The Islanders are at their worst when they are chasing the game. They seem to be doing it almost every night. It was evident during the first stanza against Pittsburgh and it put them behind the 8-ball in another crucial spot.

With Washington up next, the Isles can’t afford to let this trend continue.

These last 20 games are going to be a dogfight for positioning as the postseason approaches. Starting of games in the wrong manner have compounded in leading to the Isles losing important games and being able to keep compiling points.

It need to change and it has to be now.

The Islanders’ faltering a bit over the last few weeks — one regulation win their last six — hasn’t been for the lack of trying, but their attack has stymied after what was a terrific month prior. Some of the outlying numbers of late aren’t very encouraging:

Nelson one goal in his last nine games. Pageau two goals in his last 14. Barzal two goals in his last 16. Cizikas has three goals in the last 24; Clutterbuck with two in that span. Josh Bailey has four goals in the last 27 contests. Ryan Pulock still hasn’t scored. And Jordan Eberle has just 2 goals in his last 13.

Matt Martin continues to have an excellent season. The lone power play tally was his sixth goal of the year. As Brendan Burke pointed out last night too, the goal was just the second power play marker of his 11-year career.

Islanders’ Barry Trotz should be a favorite again for the Jack Adams Award

A week ago, NHL.com posted its first “Trophy Tracker” piece in regards to who their panel of writers would choose as the Jack Adams Award winner at the midpoint of the season. The main focus was on the Florida Panthers’ Joel Quenneville and the outstanding job he’s done this year down in South Florida. The Panthers are currently third in the standings in the Discover Central Division. Quenneville in a vote by the panel received the most first-place votes as the unanimous winner.

You know who didn’t receive any votes for that nod? Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz. And while it might be small potatoes to the overall bigger picture — Trotz and the team have Stanley Cup aspirations after coming within two games of the playing for the silver chalice last summer — he should absolutely be a favorite to take home the award for the third time in six years.

“He’s very detailed, and he’s going to hold you accountable — those are the two biggest things he’s changed within our organization,” forward Matt Martin said in an interview with ESPN’s Emily Kaplan. “But he also has good composure.”

With all due respect to all the other phenomenal coaches in the league, no one has been able to get more out of their team than Trotz. That’s been the common theme since he arrived on Long Island back in the summer of 2018.

Two years ago, he turned the Islanders from the worst defensive club in the league to the best, which helped contribute to the club’s goalies (Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss) being awarded the William M. Jennings Trophy. Last season after the COVID pause, he had the team ready to go for the challenge of playing in the bubble in Toronto. That preparation helped propel the team on their long postseason run.

What Trotz has been able to accomplish with his rag-tag bunch this year might be his best coaching job yet, and it’s taken place a COVID-induced, truncated environment.

Trotz once again has the Islanders atop the East Division and has them playing like the stoutest defensive team in the game. Under his tutelage and his system, the Isles have given up the fourth-least amount of goals in the league (73). He’s been able to get the most out of rookies Oliver Wahlstrom and Ilya Sorokin, both of whom have become the most impressive of the freshmen class in the NHL this year. Beyond the kids thriving, he’s also been able to get a lot out of his group from an offensive standpoint, a department many feel the Isles continue to lack in. According to the league’s website, the Islanders’ 98 goals for rank 13th among all teams.

Another challenge is now facing Trotz and his group with the news last week of his captain Anders Lee being done for the rest of the year. But just like he does, and how he’s implemented this same attitude to his team, they will forge on by committee.

That’s what a great coach does. And it’s a quality like that which makes Trotz one of the best — if not the best — behind the bench in the game.

There are still another 20-plus games left in this season, but Trotz has proven again he is deserving of being in the conversation for the Jack Adams. He has the Islanders succeeding again even after they keep being counted out.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Islanders’ g.m. Lou Lamoriello has one thing on his mind when it comes to next month’s trade deadline — making sure it’s the right fit for his squad. Lamoriello sat down with The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and had this to say:

“We’re pretty comfortable with the people we have, the depth we have, because we are a team when you look at our scoring, it’s so spread out and it’s so balanced. But in saying that, and I said it earlier, we certainly will see what is available but we won’t make a trade just for the sake of making it happen.

“In other words, it has to be something that works for the team, that works with reference to the chemistry; it doesn’t upset the room, all the variables that to me are extremely important.”