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 Rangers may have to sit and watch as NHL reschedules key games

The NHL will extend the end of the regular season from May 8 to May 11 which could impact a trip to the post-season for the New York Rangers.

The New York Rangers and Boston Bruins were supposed to conclude their regular season in a two-game set in Boston on May 6 and May 8. The NHL was forced to reschedule several games due to the pandemic which could force the Blueshirts to sit and watch the Bruins play their final two games in hopes of making the playoffs.

In an announcement made by the National Hockey League on Sunday, 19 games were rescheduled extending the season’s conclusion by three days.

Rescheduled Games

NEW YORK (March 28, 2021) – The National Hockey League today announced the following updates to the 2020-21 regular-season schedule:

Game 498, Edmonton at Montreal, scheduled for March 22, is now scheduled for March 30 at 7 p.m. ET

Game 714, Washington at Boston, scheduled for April 20, is now scheduled for April 11 at 7 p.m. ET

Game 686, Calgary at Montreal, scheduled for April 16 at 7 p.m. ET, will now start at 6 p.m. ET

Game 546, Ottawa at Montreal, scheduled for March 28, is now scheduled for April 17 at 4 p.m. ET

Game 483, Boston at Buffalo, scheduled for March 20, is now scheduled for April 20 at 7 p.m. ET

Game 726, Toronto at Winnipeg, scheduled for April 21 at 8 p.m. ET, will now start at 7 p.m. ET

Game 721, Montreal at Edmonton, scheduled for April 20, is now scheduled for April 21 at 10 p.m. ET

Game 736, Montreal at Calgary, scheduled for April 22, is now scheduled for April 23 at 9 p.m. ET

Game 761, Montreal at Calgary, scheduled for April 26 at 10 p.m. ET, will now start at 6:30 p.m. ET

Game 760, Edmonton at Winnipeg scheduled for April 26 at 8 p.m. ET, will now start at 9 p.m. ET

Game 564, Montreal at Ottawa, scheduled for March 30, is now scheduled for May 5 at 7 p.m. ET

Game 847, Montreal at Toronto, scheduled for May 7, is now scheduled for May 6 at 7 p.m. ET

Game 510, Edmonton at Montreal, scheduled for March 24, is now scheduled for May 10 at 5:30 p.m. ET

Game 841, Tampa Bay at Florida, scheduled for May 6, is now scheduled for May 10 at 7 p.m. ET

Game 529: NY Islanders at Boston, scheduled for March 23, is now scheduled for May 10 at 7 p.m. ET

Game 833, Toronto at Ottawa, scheduled for May 5, is now scheduled for May 10 at 8 p.m. ET

Game 456, St. Louis at Los Angeles, scheduled for March 15, is now scheduled for May 10 at 10 p.m. ET

Game 526, Edmonton at Montreal, scheduled for March 26, is now scheduled for May 11 at 7 p.m. ET

Game 653, Boston at Washington, scheduled for April 11, is now scheduled for May 11 at 7 p.m. ET

*Schedule via NHL Media

The two games that most affect the Rangers will take place on May 10 and May 11. The two games would be against the division leaders (as of now) with four valuable points up for grabs.

As of Monday night, the Rangers sit in sixth place in the MassMutual East Division five points behind the fourth-place Bruins who also have three games in hand.

With 22 games remaining in the season, The Rangers can ill afford to lose many games along the way to wrap up the 2020-2021 season. With the three games in hand now plus the two late makeup games, the Blueshirts are potentially looking at a 10 point differential which may be too much to overcome.

Follow Frank on Twitter at @RangerProud.

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 Rangers: The Taxi Squad Has Been Elite This Season

Colin Blackwell, New York Rangers

The 2021 season has not gone as planned for the New York Rangers. They’ve underperformed through the first 19 games of the season, and just when things seem to be looking up, the bad returns. From poor goaltending and a lack of offensive production, to a player taking a leave of absence following false claims about his past, the Blueshirts have endured a lot of negativity already this season. But there’s been one consistent positive – the taxi squad. The squad has been arguably the main highlight of 2021 for the Rangers, and they haven’t shown signs of slowing down.

What Makes The Rangers’ Taxi Squad Elite:

The Production They’ve Gotten From Unlikely Names

If you were to tell any Ranger fan that Colin Blackwell would have the sixth-most points on the team at the start of March, they’d probably say, “who?” After all, the Rangers were supposed to have one of the most potent offenses in the league this season. With goal-scoring machine Mika Zibanejad, point-acquiring king Artemi Panarin, and the number of talented young players arriving on the NHL scene, how could a 27-year-old with barely any NHL experience be a legitimate threat on offense?

Well, to be frank, I can’t properly explain why Blackwell’s playing so well. But I can say his production is off the charts, and it’s been that way all season. After watching the first four games from the team-hotel, Blackwell got his chance against the Penguins on January 24. He made the most of his opportunity, scoring just the fourth goal of his career. He then followed that up with a point in each of the next two games. Then things went south, like all things do for the Rangers in 2021, as he suffered an upper body injury.

Blackwell eventually returned 13 days later and picked up right where he left off. In seven games since returning from injury, Blackwell has tallied five points, giving him a total of eight on the year. Those eight points in 11 games give him an average of 0.73 points per game – the second-highest mark on the team.

Along with Blackwell, Anthony Bitetto has been a pleasant surprise for the Blueshirts as well. While being a solid contributor on the defensive end of the ice, Bitetto has also been a spark-provider on offense. In nine games the former sixth-round pick has three points to his name, tied for the fourth-most among Ranger defenseman. He’s playing the best hockey of his career, and like Blackwell, for seemingly no reason. No one is complaining though.

On top of Blackwell and Bitetto, there are a couple other names that must be mentioned. Defenseman Libor Hajek has provided a sturdy presence on D, while forward Jonny Brodzinski has contributed on the offensive end – scoring a goal in last Friday’s game against Boston.

How The Squad Compares To The Rest of the NHL

Individual statistics compared to teammates are always impressive, but the Rangers’ taxi squad is more than just good for their own standards. They’re one of the best in the entire NHL, and the numbers prove it.

As of March 1, the Rangers’ taxi squad players have produced 12 points, tied with Tampa Bay for the fourth-most in the league. But that ranking is a bit unfair to the Blueshirts and Lightning, due to the teams in-front of them making transactions early on in the season. The top three teams in terms of taxi squad production, Chicago, St. Louis, and Anaheim, all have a player that began on the taxi squad following roster cuts but has since played at least 20 games. Meaning their total number of points is an inaccurate representation of their taxi squad success.

Chicago has gotten 20 points of production from their taxi squad in 2021, but 15 of them have come from Philipp Kurashev and Brandon Hagel, each of whom have played at least 20 games. Anaheim’s squad, meanwhile, has produced 15 points, but that’s almost entirely because of Max Comtois’ 13. Comtois, the Ducks’ leader in points, started the season on the taxi squad but was recalled to the active roster the day after, and has started every single game for Anaheim. The same goes for St. Louis who has received 18 points from Jordan Kyrou, a member of the Blues taxi squad for less than 24 hours in January.

So, if you put everyone on an even playing field, that puts the Rangers in a tie for the most taxi squad points in the NHL. On top of this, the Rangers’ taxi squad has been the most valuable in the league. The Blueshirts’ squad has accounted for seven goals, equivalent to 14% of all Rangers goals. No other team is remotely close to that number.

Despite all the negatives in 2021, at least we have the taxi squad to boast about. They’ve been an awesome surprise.

New York Rangers: Why Chris Kreider Is So Dominant On The Power Play

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider has been the team’s number one source of goals this season. His eight scores lead the team, as do his five power play goals. He posted his third career hat trick in Wednesday night’s loss to Philadelphia and has scored in two straight. In other words, the longest-tenured Ranger has been magnificent around the net – especially on the power play. It’s no coincidence he’s tied with eight other players for the third-most power play goals in the NHL though. His ability to control the ice in-front of the net has turned him into a goal-scoring machine.

What Makes Chris Kreider so Good on the Power Play:

 His Ability to Find Open Space Around the Net

Very few do a better job of finding open space around the net than Kreider. The former first-rounder has virtually made a name for himself strictly by plucking off goals in the crease. Each time Kreider steps on the ice he makes a point of gaining position by the net and waiting for an opportunity to strike. Sometimes that opportunity is a rebound off a wrist-shot from 20 feet out, while other times it’s a tip-in off a slap-shot from the blue line. He’s always waiting to cash-in, game after game.

Kreider positions himself to the right of Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott perfectly. There’s not a single defenseman within reach of him when the puck ricochets off Elliott, giving him a wide-open net to score on.

The Flyers, like every other NHL team that has played the Rangers in the Kreider-era, failed to correct their mistake the next period as well.

This time Kreider waits for Zibanejad to set him up with a picture-perfect pass and cashes in once again. Just like his first goal of the game, there’s no defender to impact his shot. You’d think teams would do a better job of locating him by now, right? Considering he has been tormenting penalty-killing teams for his entire career, after all.

His Ability to Stay Calm Under Pressure

Not all goals will be as easy as the ones from Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia unfortunately, but that isn’t a problem for Kreider. For years he has been able to send the biscuit into the oven despite players draped all over him. He never feels pressure and always remains calm.

The clip above is from a game against Vancouver in 2013. Notice anything about No. 20 in blue? He’s positioned in-front of the net for the entirety of the possession, patiently waiting for a shot-on-goal that he can redirect into the twine. And when former-captain Ryan McDonagh sends a wrist-shot into the pile-up of skaters outside the net, Kreider capitalizes. Despite Vancouver’s Chris Tanev effort to interrupt Kreider’s concentration, the power play goal is scored.

Nearly eight years later and nothing has changed.

He Makes the Most of His Chances

No member of the Blueshirts makes more of their minutes than Kreider. His average ice-time of 17:27 is the fifth-most among forwards on the team, and yet, as mentioned earlier, he leads the team in goals with eight. What makes his goal-tally even more impressive though is how few shots he has taken. He has converted on eight of the 41 shots he has taken this year, an absurd success-rate of 23.5% – the highest on the team.

For perspective, only eight other players in the NHL with at least eight goals scored have converted on at least 23.5% of shots taken. Furthermore, five of those eight players spend more time on the ice than Kreider each game, which provides them with more opportunities.

This is nothing new for Kreider, however. Although he has never averaged more than 17:30 of ice time in a season, the Massachusetts-native has scored 20+ goals in five of his eight seasons. An impressive 31.5% of his career goals have occurred on the power play. All while being one of the speediest skaters on Broadway for the last decade.

It’s not by chance that Kreider is having a strong 2021 season on the power play. The guy knows how to get the puck into the net and has shown no signs of slowing down in year number nine. Nor will he slow down until someone invents a tactic to keep him out of the crease.

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.