New York Islanders: Round 1 Matchup Analysis

islanders, adam pelech

The New York Islanders have made the playoffs for the third season in a row. The franchise has taken a complete left turn since star player John Tavares left in free agency in 2018. Last year, the Islanders made a deep playoff run, making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Where they took the Stanley Cup Champions to 6 games. Only one Brock Nelson breakaway goal from a game 7. The Islanders didn’t have to face the Pittsburgh Penguins last year, as they got eliminated within the play-in round. This year, Hockey fans got spoiled once again and get a 2019 round 1 rematch between the two rivals. Anytime these two teams play against each other: blood boils, goals are scored, and bells are rung. This series will come down to which team is more well-rounded and better disciplined. Who has the advantage on paper?

Forwards: Penguins

If you have a player like Sidney Crosby on your team, your forward core is pretty good. Then you throw in stars like Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel, the core looks even better. A supporting cast with Jared McCann, Jeff Carter, Bryan Rust, Jason Zucker, and Kasperi Kapanen. The Penguins have some pretty good depth as well with guys like Brandon Tanev, Zach Aston-Reese, and Colton Sceviour. I believe this core is just more energetic than the Islanders. Don’t get me wrong, Mat Barzal and co. have the ability to light the lamps all night long, but they do struggle to score often. Advantage: Penguins.

Defense: Islanders

The Islanders probably have the best defensive core in the league: Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, two great, underrated defenders who can go both ways. Nick Leddy and Noah Dobson are a great skaters who gives a huge advantage to the Isles in the offensive zone. Scott Mayfield is a good penalty killer, but he does miss his assignment a lot. And Andy Greene is just a solid old guy. The Penguins have a top defender of the decade in Kris Letang paired with a solid left defender in Brian Dumoulin on the first line. After that, the core drops off. Mike Matheson is on the second line, which says something. Hopefully, Pierre-Oliver Joseph breaks out soon.

Goalies: Islanders

Casey Desmith and Tristen Jarry have played great all year against the Islanders. But the William J. Jennings trophy runner-ups are just more skilled than the Penguins duo. Varlamov and Sorokin are a 1a/1b situation. Jarry is the 1, and Desmith is definitely the 2. Goalies on both sides will be tested greatly every single game. This is definitely a series to watch.

New York Islanders: FOCO set to Release Limited Edition Mat Barzal Bobblehead

new york islanders, matt barzal

The New York Islanders have become one of the top teams in the NHL recently. Some say this is due to their Head Coach Barry Trotz. Others say it’s because of the moves that General Manager Lou Lamoriello has made to acquire fresh talent. But, coaches and managers can only do so much, the players are the ones that determine the outcome of a team’s season. One player on the Islanders has stood out as the team’s best and a top player in the league as a whole. This player is Coquitlam’s own, Mat Barzal. Barzal has taken the league by storm since his debut in 2017. FOCO, the leading manufacturer of sports and entertainment merchandise, has seen Barzal’s dominance and have honored his play with a new bobblehead.

Reviews

This bobblehead of Mat Barzal is spot on. The attention to detail, whether it be his rocking flow or the classic Islanders logo, FOCO did a terrific job when creating this bobblehead. I, myself, bought some of FOCO’s New York Knicks bobbleheads earlier this year, and it’s 100% worth the $50. I added a new Julius Randle to my impressive collection of Anders Lee and AHL Matt Martin bobbleheads. Mat Barzal’s gifts on the ice are god-given, and the same goes for FOCO’s designers’.

Price and Availability

This bobblehead is a limited edition item, and when I say limited, I mean limited. There are only 144 of these bobbleheads created, and they will sell fast. At the small price of just $50, you can be one of the only people in the world to own this beautiful bobblehead. Again, these bobbleheads will sell fast, so be ready to pounce on them. The bobblehead will be going live for sale on 4/21/2021 at 11:00 AM EST on FOCO’s official website. If you’re not on https://www.foco.com at 11 AM EST on 4/21/2021, you can kiss your dreams of having a limited edition Mat Barzal bobblehead goodbye.

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.

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.

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.

New York Islanders: Potential trade targets at the deadline

The New York Islanders are back in the trade market once again. But, this time, it’s not because of players underperforming or attitude problems. Just recently, it’s been announced that captain Anders Lee is out for the season with a lower-body injury and has been placed on LTIR. The Isles have been given his $7m cap hit in relief of this. This is the first time in a long time that the Islanders have cap room to go out and get a guy. These are 3 of my under-the-radar options. This list won’t include guys like Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmeri, or Fillip Forsberg. 

Rickard Rakell, F, Ducks

Rickard Rakell is just an awesome player. Rakell has shown that he can score 30+ goals and match that goal number with assists. He’s just about reaching the best of his playing days, and it’s about time for a change of scenery. He’s the best option for the Islanders out of the 3 in my mind. Rakell has got a cheapish cap hit, and he’s a gifted offensive player. The problem is, it’s gonna take a good amount to get him. Probably a high-level prospect, a first-round pick, and maybe even more. Also, the Islanders would have to sign him to a long-term deal very shortly. Rakell currently has 19 points in 30 games this season while playing on a line with a rookie and a 35-year-old center.

Bobby Ryan, F, Red Wings

Bobby Ryan is literally the perfect option if Anders Lee comes back for the playoffs. Ryan has revived his career, and no one has noticed cause he’s in Detroit. He’s a cheap player on a minimum deal, it won’t take much to get him. Ryan battled a lot of demons in Ottawa, but he’s found his footing in Detroit. I believe with the right system, aka Barry Trotz’s system, and the right players around him, aka JG Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom, Ryan can return to his early Ottawa playing days. The trade for Ryan would be as cheap as it gets, probably just a mid-level pick. Ryan currently has 13 points in 28 games this season.

Tanner Pearson, F, Canucks

Tanner Pearson has the stats and the cups to prove to you why he should be traded for. There is almost no explanation on why you shouldn’t get him other than the fact that he’s been having a down year, but the Vancouver Canucks just flat out suck right now. I don’t know how much it would take to get him, but I can see the Canucks taking a player like Komarov back the other way to get the deal done. Isles would most likely have to throw a prospect and a second-round pick as well into the mix. What do you think about these under the radar, guys?

New York Islanders: Explaining the Islanders Recent Success

New York islanders, Jordan Eberle

The New York Islanders are the hottest team in the NHL currently, they sit first in the Eastern Division. They also are tied for 3rd best in the entire NHL. They’ve won 7 straight games, had points in 18 of their 20 games, and still haven’t had a regulation loss at home.

This style of play and success differs greatly from their standing about a month ago. A month ago, the Islanders couldn’t buy a goal or a win, and their goalies were left out to dry every single game. Nowadays, everyone on the Islanders can score at any given time, they can’t seem to lose, and the defense has stood on their heads. What changed in just a month’s time?

Better Skating

The Islanders have some of the fastest players in the league, such as Mat Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, JG Pageau, etc. Offensive zone time and passing improve when players are skating. If you’re flat-footed in the neutral zone or while receiving a pass, there are very few opportunities. Players like Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey have improved greatly on moving their feet all the time. Defensemen such as Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, and even Scott Mayfield have all created glorious chances through their skating. The whole team is skating, and not a single team can keep up.

Confidence and Momentum

I cannot stress how important confidence and momentum are to a team’s success. Back in February, players like Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, and many more couldn’t buy a goal. Look at these guys now, Nelson is second in goals with 11. Even Matt Martin has 5 goals, which is the same amount he had all of last year. The forwards feel as if they can score on every shot. The defensemen are confident in finding their assignments and pushing them off the puck. The goalies are playing some of the best Hockey they’ve ever played. All this confidence and momentum has lead to an Islander team that is tied 3rd in the league.

New York Islanders: Revisiting the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Islanders

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the New York Islanders trading for Jean-Gabriel Pageau. This trade may go down as one of the biggest highway robberies ever committed by any NHL team ever. Pageau has not only been a top performer on the Islanders, but he’s also one of the most annoying players to play against in the league. Pageau does it all, he’s on the penalty kill, he can dangle through 3 defenders, he can snipe in the toy department. It’s almost like having Mat Barzal, Casey Cizikas, and Brock Nelson combine into one complete center. No, I’m not saying that Pageau is the Islanders’ best or most complete center, but he has been undeniably great. What is Pageau’s impact? And what did the Islanders give away for him?

Pageau’s Impact

The New York Islanders had a huge problem last year and going into this year. They couldn’t score goals, and they had no money to get someone to do it. Enter Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who scores some of the best goals I’ve ever seen. It seems that he can score from almost anywhere. Currently, Pageau is tied for 2nd in points with 11 and tied 2nd in goals with 7. The fact that Pageau continues to play at the top of his game with new linemates every other game is something no other player an do. Not only can he score, but he’s insanely reliable on the faceoff. Pageau currently ranks 13th in the league in faceoff percentage with a 57.4% win rate. That’s why you see him double shift at the end of games and when the fourth line is out there late in the game.

What did the Islanders Trade Away?

The Islanders traded away their first and second-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft. They also had a conditional third going to the Senators if the Isles won the Stanley Cup. These picks ended up being late-round picks. I’m not going to say that good teams should trade away their first-rounders every year. But, if you are truly committed to the win now, you should definitely look into trading one or two of them. To put it simple, what did the first-rounder do in the NHL that the player you traded for hasn’t? The answer, nothing cause they haven’t played yet.

New York Islanders: The Josh Ho-Sang experiment is over

The New York Islanders drafted Josh Ho-Sang with the 28th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. It seemed like a sure-fire hit, as Ho-Sang ripped it up in the OHL and the GTHL U16. Sadly, Josh Ho-Sang never reached his first-round potential. It seemed like in 2016 that he was about to hit his stride and make a name for himself in the NHL. He was one of the most excitable players on the Islanders, behind Tavares, of course. But, his exciting play does not equal good performances, and it certainly doesn’t make up for office actions.

Ho-Sang’s attitude has prevented him from being a star, and it was one of the main reasons he got picked so late in the draft. Recently, Ho-Sang was dropped from his SHL team due to a lack of talent and preparation. What’s next for the young forward?

Waivers

Josh Ho-Sang cannot be on the Islanders for another minute, even a minute seems like I’m pushing it. The Islanders preach no turnovers, with hard checking and tight defense. Ho-Sang literally does none of these. He’s almost always turning the puck over in the offensive zone because he tries to do too much. If Ho-Sang just used his teammates and skated off the puck better, and actually played sound defense, he would be a good top 9 forward in the NHL.

Better Coaching

Barry Trotz and his current staff is the best coaching staff in the entire NHL. But, Ho-Sang needs a different type of coaching/system. He needs to go to a team like the Coyotes or the Jets where he can just let his natural talent flow. He’s a good player, everyone knows he is, but he needs to act like he wants to play. Come to training camp on time, never oversleep, be a good teammate, and do not criticize the organization he’s with. Every Hockey fan is rooting for Ho-Sang to become who he should be, but he needs to help himself.

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.