A line of Parise-Pageau-Wahlstrom could be dynamite for Islanders this season

As we continue to sift through the dog days of August before talk of training camp begins, things continue to remain extremely quiet on the Islanders’ front. But that doesn’t mean it’s never a bad thing to look ahead.

I wrote earlier this week Zach Parise is primed to have a bounce-back season wherever he’s suiting up. It’s all but confirmed he will be an Islander, despite the team still not providing any formal announcement. Once the Isles do make his signing official, things will shift to where he’s used by head coach Barry Trotz in the lineup.

Several projections have Parise slotting in on the third line as the Isles’ top-six, barring another trade or signing, looks all but set with Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, Kyle Palmieri (also re-signed), Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier. If that is indeed the role he’s given, Parise will most likely be linemates along with J.G. Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom.

Having those three on a line together has the chance to add a big boost to the Islanders’ attack.

Pageau is coming into this year fully healthy after he suffered an injury in the playoffs. He was a force for the Islanders before a broken hand compromised his ability to contribute. Wahlstrom will too be back on the mend after suffering a setback in the Penguins series that kept him out the rest of the postseason. This will be his second season after a solid rookie campaign where he tallied 21 points in 44 games. He is expected to be a full-time regular and one of the Islanders’ more prominent scoring threats with Jordan Eberle departing for Seattle. Parise, as stated already, is motivated to find his game again after having the last four years of his contract bought out by his hometown Minnesota Wild.

Wahlstrom and Pageau already have chemistry going back to last season when the freshman forward was inserted next to the Ottawa native during the Isles’ hot streak in March. They meshed really well together and gave the Islanders a solid one-two punch outside their top-nine. There was an even stronger connection in the postseason before Wahlstrom went down. And they like each other.

“His attitude is top-notch on and off the ice,” Pageau said about Wahlstrom during the year. “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.”

“My guy. He’s just awesome,” was how Wahlstrom described Pageau. “He’s a guy I really look up to and I love being around him.”

The addition of Parise though adds another intriguing factor. He will bring some much-needed offense to a line usually considered the checking line. Everyone can point to his disappointing campaign last year — 18 points in 45 games — but he’s still a capable contributor.

Prior to last year, Parise combined for 53 goals from 2018 to 2020.

What also should be acknowledged: Wahlstrom will also have the opportunity to learn from one of the best veterans in the league.

Pageau is a great mentor to have, but Parise held the captaincy during his tenure in New Jersey, where ironically he was under the watch of current Islanders boss Lou Lamoriello. He was also an assistant for many years with the Wild. That kind of experience will be vital for Wahlstrom, who is still has a ton of room to grow.

As a whole, the Pageau-Wahlstrom-Parise trio has all the makings of a very being very effective if formed. Each player brings something different to the table.

The Islanders offense is expected to be better from previous years, and these three can be a big part of it.

 

 

 

 

Oliver Wahlstrom has chance to be a major piece for the Islanders next season

The sting of knowing how close the Islanders were to playing for the Stanley Cup won’t go away. The sting of having a healthy Oliver Wahlstrom and knowing the possible effect he could have had as the team’s run got deeper will last as well.

Wahlstrom, the team’s 21-year-old sniper, didn’t appear for the Isles in the final two rounds after a strong start to the playoffs. Instead, he spent most of the postseason in the press box watching after getting hurt in the third period of Game 5 against Pittsburgh. Wahlstrom had collided awkwardly with the Pens’ Mike Matheson in the corner and suffered a lower-body injury.

“Obviously, it’s really tough to get injured,” Wahlstrom said to the media during exit interviews. “You want to play with all your brothers and it was tough but at the same time it was a good learning experience to go through that. And mentally, to work on my mind a little bit, so it was really tough.”

That narrative of Wahlstrom’s absence didn’t seem to affect head coach Barry Trotz who said he had “no regrets” about keeping the rookie forward out. Even as Wahlstrom was considered fully healthy by the time the Tampa series started, Trotz decided to stick with veteran acquisition Travis Zajac, who did a commendable job in his place.

Now while Trotz said his two-cents, there’s no question Wahlstrom’s absence was felt on a number of important fronts. The obvious being the Islanders’ offense and their power play, both of which could have used the rookie’s shot and energy. The Isles only score 11 goals in the entire series and went a dismal 1-for-17 with the man advantage.

Wahlstrom can say that sitting out was a good learning experience, and the Islanders and their fans can keep thinking “what if?”. But with the shift towards next season in full gear, Wahlstrom has the chance to be an even bigger presence.

Next year will technically be year three for him — Wahlstrom did play over 40 games this year and handful the previous season — and his role in the offense is most likely to expand. Wahlstrom is one of the youngest players/forwards of an Islanders attack that’s not getting any younger with a lot of their core forwards in their late 20s, early 30s. The potential loss of a Jordan Eberle in the expansion draft could also open up a big hole in the top-six.

Wahlstrom did become a lot more confident with and without the puck this past season. That can help with gaining Trotz’s trust. But it’s that scoring prowess which is more crucial.

The Isles haven’t had a true sniper for years. Wahlstrom changed that narrative this year and it should be a major sticking point when training camp begins. At the moment, he is the team’s bonafide sharpshooter. No one has the shot or hands he does, which was clear from the majority of the 12 goals Wahlstrom tallied during the regular season.

Then there’s dynamic he brings to the Islanders’ power play.

There was a point during the season when the team’s power play turned the corner, and it came from Wahlstrom becoming the go-to guy. Once the opposition figured out how to defend him — and lost Anders Lee as a net-front presence — the Islanders lost that mojo. But it was easy to tell you how much just having Wahlstrom as a threat changed the entire feel when the Isles were man-up.

The expectations for the Islanders and Wahlstrom going into next season will be high. And rightfully so. Both have the chance to do big things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Islanders’ Oliver Wahlstrom showing he’s not intimidated by the playoff stage

For any rookie in any sport, the postseason can be a frightening time. The intensity is dialed up, every mistake is magnified, each crucial moment can be the difference between winning and losing. This is doubled when it comes to Stanley Cup Playoffs with how much speed and increased physicality the games are played with.

Oliver Wahlstrom is one of two Islanders rookies getting their first taste of postseason hockey in their careers, the other being goaltender Ilya Sorokin. Through the Islanders’ first-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins so far, the 20-year-old forward has embraced the challenges that come with playing in the playoffs. Wahlstrom’s been engaged, not afraid to get nasty, and created chances offensively. He also earned his first playoff point in Sunday’s game one victory on Kyle Palmieri’s OT winner.

This has been a welcoming sight to see after how some of the Isles’ more prominent forwards have yet to make an impact. Wahlstrom has been on a line with Palmieri and J.G. Pageau, and they have been arguably the best line for the Islanders after two games.

“Wally was really strong,” head coach Barry Trotz said after game one. “He was really strong on the walls, for the most part, he was on the right side of the puck. I always judge how a player reacts on the puck battles and when it gets chaotic in his own end. I thought he was really calm. He wasn’t small in those big moments. When it got chaotic, he wasn’t running around. He got in position, he did what he needed to do… Hopefully, he can carry that forward. That was a really good first step for him.”

Even in last night’s 2-1 loss — despite taking three consecutive penalties in the second period, one I might add was a total garbage call — Wahlstrom kept pushing hard. Trotz also kept playing him. That shows trust. In any other situation where someone on the team commits those types of fouls, he wouldn’t see the ice for a while in that specific game (see Mathew Barzal during the regular season).

Wahlstrom was solid for the Islanders in the regular season — 21 points 44 games — but there was a lot of speculation about how he would react to a bigger stage. He’s embraced it fully. Sure two games might be a small sample size, but it’s an encouraging sign for what might come from him the rest of the series.

The Isles split in Pittsburgh and are now coming back home for a pivotal game three tomorrow night. It will be Wahlstrom’s first experience of playing in front of a playoff crowd at Nassau Coliseum. That should be a fun sight to see. And if what we’ve seen from him to this point is any indication, that type of environment won’t faze him either.

One element that won’t be talked about as much from the Isles game two loss was the incredible work by the penalty kill. Shorthanded the Islanders were again 2-for-2, which makes them now a perfect 5/5 man down in the series. Leo Komarov was once again a monster, helping take time off the clock and giving the Pens fits. D-man Scott Mayfield was also terrific especially when Pittsburgh was trying to find scoring lanes.

As the series shifts to Long Island, one has to think the Islanders’ play at home this year could really prove huge the next two games. Yes the only team they really struggled with at home was the Penguins; Pittsburgh accounted for two of the club’s seven defeats on home ice, both of which came in overtime. But the Islanders seem to be a different squad in front of their fans and they’ll get 6,800 of them rocking the barn starting tomorrow night, the most they’ve played in front of all season.

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.

The Islanders have something this season they haven’t had in a long time

There’s a old saying in the sport of hockey: “the future has arrived”. Some say it’s a phrase that can be overrun until that reality smacks you straight in the face. Time and time again, the word future and the Islanders have become one in the same as the years have gone by. But this season, that future has taken a clear hold of where the franchise is hoping to go and looking to stay for the foreseeable future.

The Isles, and their fans for that matter, are seeing a dynamic in this COVID-induced year they haven’t witnessed in a long time — prospects living up or exceeding expectations. Three names in particular, Oliver Wahlstrom, Ilya Sorokin and Noah Dobson, have made this “youth movement” an enjoyable one for everyone to watch.

Even as Dobson deals with being in COVID protocol — yesterday marked his tenth day on the league’s list — he was having a solid sophomore campaign and was near the top in stats for defensemen on the club.

As for Wahlstrom and Sorokin, both of them have played a significant role in the team’s success and have people around the league buzzing.

The 20-year-old Wahlstrom has proven to be the sniper the organization has been clamoring for for what seems like decades. He’s already tallied eight goals, each more impressive to the last, and has 15 points overall in just 26 games. Mind you he’s doing this as a bottom-six forward — he’s playing on the third line centered by J.G. Pageau — which makes what’s he’s been doing extremely admirable. Wahlstrom’s teammate Sorokin, albeit five years older, as I wrote yesterday is showing he’s as advertised from how spectacular he was during his dominating tenure in the his homeland in the KHL.

“His confidence is growing and you see that in net,” Casey Cizikas said about Sorokin a few weeks back. “His work ethic in practice is above and beyond. He’s working and he’s getting better at his game. You’re seeing that out there. He’s made some really big saves for us at some key times.”

Sorokin has helped provide the Isles with essentially the best goaltending duo in the NHL along with veteran Semyon Varlamov. Not only that, he’s provided a glimpse of why he could be an elite goaltender in the NHL for years to come.

This kind of impact from their youth has come before for the Isles, but not the way these three individuals have done it all at the same time. There was Mathew Barzal is 2017-18 when he was running roughshod over the league which ended in him as the Calder Trophy winner. There was also Josh Ho-Sang’s rise at the end of the 2016-17 season. Before that you have to go all the way back to the early 2000s when the franchise saw the fruits of labor come with Rick DiPietro and Trent Hunter.

So as you can tell, seeing three and possibly more youngsters — if Kieffer Bellows can find a role back in the lineup — making an impact all at the same time doesn’t happen often with this organization.

That’s changed this season and the Isles have become a better team for it.

Islanders head coach made it a point that having young guys on the team this year has added an extra ingredient. The team is having fun. Look no further than Wahlstrom, who during Monday night’s win in Philadelphia was caught on camera singing to the song “Here Comes the Boom!” playing over the PA.

We all know Mathew Barzal is a wizard with the puck on his stick, but to have the amount of dekes he has totaled through 33 games is almost uncanny.

Per Sportsnet last night, Barzal has tried a league-leading 179 open-ice moves when the game is played at 5-on-5.

Based on that stat, you wonder why he makes defenders look like traffic cones most of the time.

The excitement factor and how it pertains to the Islanders

If you haven’t noticed by now, the Islanders are playing an exciting brand of hockey. Entering Tuesday night’s tilt in D.C. against the Capitals, the Isles are the hottest club in the league having won their last nine consecutive games. Plus, they are currently riding a 12-game point streak and have lost just four times — twice in regulation, twice in OT all to Pittsburgh — in their last 20 games.

A key element to that surge has been the team’s offense scoring a lot more. But several of those tallies have come in rousing fashion. And those thrilling red lights have been off the stick of undoubtedly the club’s most pulsating forwards, Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom.

Even on Sunday in the shootout, the freshman Wahlstrom’s game-winner in the shootout was a snipe job that he zipped past Devils’ goalie Scott Wedgewood. So that got me thinking about which brings more excitement out of an Isles fan right now.

Is it when the puck is on Barzal’s stick at any time? Or when the puck is on Wahlstrom’s tape and he’s about to shoot?

Isles fans in a 24-hour poll voted Barzal over Wahlstrom, with him getting 64% as opposed to Wahlstrom’s 36%.

Looking at the results, the underlying factor seems to be is that Barzal is dangerous whenever the puck is with him. He’s only gotten better in that area and been dazzling blue and orange diehards going all the way back to his Calder Trophy-winning campaign in 2017-18. This year he’s taken it to a whole other level, exemplified by this masterpiece below.

Wahlstrom’s wicked shot and ability to score at the drop of a hat is a new thing almost for Islanders’ fans in a sense. The Isles have been looking for a sniper for close to half a decade now. The “Wahligator” as he’s been dubbed in the room might just be that specific guy with his capabilities.

“It gives us a threat and obviously a shot,” head coach Barry Trotz said a few weeks back when talking about his rookie forward’s electric release.

The Islanders haven’t had this type of get you to the edge of your seat type duo since the dynasty days of Mike Bossy and Brian Trottier.

Those studs became Hall of Famers.

It’s way too early to even put Barzal and Wahlstrom in any such conversation, but the amount of exhilarating feels they can bring out of fans have made them and the team incredibly fun to watch.

There’s been no word on Noah Dobson’s status for whether he will play tonight after he and J.G. Pageau sat out Sunday’s win due to showing up on the NHL’s COVID list. Pageau came off yesterday, but Dobson could again be absent which means another dose of Sebastian Aho for the Isles.

Aho was impressive Sunday (he recorded an assist on Kieffer Bellows’ opening goal) after not having suited up this season and in close to 1,100 days in an NHL game.

“I haven’t played hockey in pretty much a year so it was different,” he acknowledged on Sunday in the postgame. “I felt okay, I made some good plays and some not so good plays, but that’s to be expected. Overall, I felt okay. It was fun.”

Everyone knows how wonderful the franchise’s new hone at UBS Arena is going to be. But all the pictures, live cams, updates don’t do it justice with how spectacular a facility it’s going to be. I took a tour of the building for the first time yesterday and it was incredible what is coming for the team and the fans.

Just walking up the stairs to where you can see the ice on the upper level elicited a tingle down my spine.

 

New York Islanders: It’s time for Oliver Wahlstrom to play

The New York Islanders have only played 3 games this season but have the same problem as last season. They can’t seem to figure out how to put the puck in the back of the net consistently. I know the Isles scored 4 goals against the Rangers in the first game. But, in the last 120 minutes of gameplay, they’ve only scored 1 goal.

The Islanders aren’t going to go make a trade for a top goal scorer. So, this player must come from inside the system. The answer is obviously Oliver Wahlstrom. No other winger has goal-scoring abilities as Wahlstrom has. Where would he fit in the lineup, though? Also, how would this impact the current gameplan?

Replace Ross Johnston

Ross Johnston’s best ability is his physicality, and this is a known fact. But he only has 11 hits in 3 games this season. The fourth line has been doing their thing and together have 27 hits in 3 games.

Even Kieffer Bellows has 10 hits in 3 games. It’s not like the Islanders need more checking. They need more goal scoring. And I also believe the reason why the third line gets a lack of minutes compared to the other lines is the fact that Ross Johnston is on it. I’m not calling him completely useless. But, as a wise man once said, “Johnston can do nothing just as much as he can do something.”

The Positives of the Change

When good players get the puck in space, there’s a scoring chance to be had. And when the puck gets on the net, good things happen. The third line takes the fewest amount of shots on net, with just 5 all year.

The puck needs to get on the net, and with a crafty player like Wahlstrom, it most certainly will. Teams don’t know how to gameplan for Wahlstrom. But, they know how to stop Johnston and make him slip up. All the Isles need is a confidence boost. If the Islanders can get Bellows and Wahlstrom to feel comfortable, the third line can be one of the deadliest in the league.

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: International prospects update

Ruslan Iskhakov, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have a bunch of prospects playing right now, all over the world. Coverage in places like Finland and Russia isn’t as good as it is in America. I’ve taken it upon myself to report and grade some of the Islanders’ best prospects throughout the world. Without any further explanation or build-up, what are the Islanders’ international prospects playing like?

Ruslan Iskhakov

I can guarantee you, that you haven’t heard his name since he was drafted two years ago in the second round. There was a lot of hype for Iskhakov, people compared him to Mika Zibanejad. Ishkakov absolutely destroyed the Slovakia U18 league with 104 points in 2017. After two mediocre seasons at the University of Connecticut, Iskhakov made his way to the TPS. In 9 games, he has 5 points, but he most recently got healthy scratched. Iskhakov may never reach his full potential.

Otto Koivula

Otto Koivula is an NHL hopeful. In and out of the Islanders’ roster, Koivula needs to make his mark overseas. Koivula was put on loan to the Liiga in Finland and has been a solid player for the HIFK. Koivula recorded 3 points in 5 games and continues to impress in the offensive end. If he ever wants a permanent spot in the NHL, Koivula must improve the defensive side of his game.

Oliver Wahlstrom

It’s finally time, it’s Oliver Wahlstrom time. In Sweden, Wahlstrom has proved to be one of the top players for AIK. With 4 points in 6 games and a couple of spectacular goals, Wahlstrom is ready to come back over. Islander fans have been waiting for Wahlstrom for what seems like decades. He recently took a hard fall into the boards that have kept him sidelined for a couple of games, but he will be fine. Wahlstrom is ready.

Simon Holmstrom

Simon Holmstrom is so unbelievably streaky. Sometimes he’s on his games, and other games he literally just skates around. In 6 games with HC Vita Hasten, Holmstrom recorded 2 points. Holmstrom is not a goal scorer by any means; I look at him as a Zach-Aston Reese type player. Holmstrom is not ready for the NHL now, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be ready next year.

New York Islanders: A possible exciting third line combination

J.G. Pageau, New York Islanders

Not many teams in the NHL have exciting third lines. But, the New York Islanders are in the midst of creating a highly touted one. It won’t just be a line who can only forecheck and penalty kill. This line, if it develops correctly, could revolutionize the way NHL coaches set up their bottom 6 lines. Without any further build-up, here is a possible third line for the Islanders in the 2020-21′ season.

J.G. Pageau

This shouldn’t surprise any Islander fan at all. Brock Nelson isn’t dropping down a line, and no way is Trotz playing 2 of his top 3 centers on one line. Pageau will serve as the mentor for his other linemates. Pageau will teach his linemates the Islander way of playing. Islanders must get in the dirty areas and play stout defense. Pageau’s new linemates need a bit of teaching on both of these. His linemates have to learn that Hockey isn’t just about scoring goals. Pageau will be a big help in his linemates’ young careers.

Oliver Wahlstrom

The right-wing on the new third line will be one of the top Isles’ prospects, Oliver Wahlstrom. Wahlstrom is coming back to America with newfound confidence and motivation. Wahlstrom recently stated how displeased he was that he didn’t make the roster last year. Oliver Wahlstrom has been killing it overseas as of late against older players and former NHLers. I believe Wahlstrom is fully ready to step in and become the draft pick the Islanders knew that they picked.

Kieffer Bellows

Oh yeah, 2 rookies on one line, don’t mind if the Islanders do. It’s finally Kieffer Bellows’ time to shine after 3 long years in the minors. Bellows will be the sniper on the left-wing as he always should’ve been. Bellows is coming off a great year in Bridgeport with 22 goals and 9 assists in 52 games. The rookie burst onto the scene last year in the NHL with 2 goals and 1 assist in 8 games. It’s time for Bellows to get his real shot, he’ll take advantage of it.