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.

Scott Mayfield has made big strides this postseason for the Islanders

There’s been a lot to be excited about as the New York Islanders during their run in the playoffs. That includes the progression from one player who has been a big part of the steadfast defensive core they’ve built in recent years, Scott Mayfield.

Mayfield, despite a few setbacks (or broken sticks to be specific), has made some big strides since the Isles have started bubble play at both ends of the ice.

In 21 games, Mayfield has recorded five points and is a +13 overall, which is the best on the team. Three of those five points too came at the tail end of the previous series against the Flyers. He’s totaled 23 shots, showing he hasn’t been afraid to try and get in on the offense.

Mayfield’s lone goal in the playoffs — the game-winner in game seven against Philadelphia — was a beautiful wrister and a shooters shot.

From a defensive standpoint, Mayfield looks a lot more comfortable. As opposed to his defensive partner Devon Toews — who was very solid through the first half of the team’s run but has struggled a bit as of late — Mayfield’s been sharper in his own zone and used his size and physicality to his advantage.

His hits (46) and blocks (45) are right at the top for the club, according to quanthockey.com. Mayfield’s also done a terrific job on the penalty kill as a part of the first unit with Adam Pelech, Cal Clutterbuck and J.G. Pageau. They’ve been responsible for helping the team only allow 12 goals on 76 opportunities shorthanded.

Has Mayfield too had his moments where he’s had trouble? Yes. But that comes with the territory when a team gets as far as the Islanders have.

Still, there’s been way more positive than negative.

It’s interesting that it’s turned out that way too because before the regular season paused back in March, the 27-year-old Mayfield looked as if he had taken a step back.

When Pelech went down in early January with an Achillies injury, it left a huge void and it really allowed things to get discombobulated for Mayfield and the d-corps as a whole. During that period, Mayfield was missing assignments and he stopped playing with a physical mindset. He looked as if he was trying not to make a mistake instead of being more loose and confident with and without the puck.

Those struggles from Mayfield feels like they were years ago as compared to just seven or eight months ago. Now, he looks again like the solid defender who was one of the biggest suprises from the season prior and the steady presence whom head coach Barry Trotz came to trust in important situations.

As the Islanders get set for another do-or-die Game Six tonight against the Lightning, they are going to need all hands on deck. They are going to get Tampa’s best game, with or without their star forward Brayden Point.

That means getting a strong showing from the likes of Mayfield as he’s done for a while now. He’s been one of the exciting developments from this run. And the strides he’s made have been great to see.

 

 

New York Islanders: 3 Key Players to Game 4’s Win

Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders

As New York Islanders‘ head coach Barry Trotz said, “that was the worst game that we’ve played to this point in the playoffs.” I don’t think the Islanders played terrible last night, but they weren’t good. Nevertheless, the Islanders take a 3-1 series lead. And for the first time in 27 years, the Islanders could be headed to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Islanders are clicking right now, and it’s a scary sight for all other teams. There were three key players to last night’s win, and they deserve to be recognized for their efforts.

Thomas Greiss

This was possibly Thomas Greiss’ last game as an Islander. Greiss gave it his all, as he made 36 saves on 38 shots. Greiss made some of the hardest saves look insanely easy. The Islanders are unbeatable when their goalies are clicking. Greiss didn’t make any mistakes last night. As Thomas Greiss said, “it’s not rocket science out there, just stop the puck.” Greiss gets the first star of the night for sure. If this is his last game, thank you, Greisser, for everything.

Brock Nelson

Who knew it could be Brocktober in Paugaust? Brock Nelson finally broke his cold streak and put up two goals last night. This is only the beginning of his hot streak; once Brock gets on a roll, he’s impossible to stop. Nelson possesses the best shot on the team by far. When he’s in front of the net with no one around him, you can bet on Nelson burying it top corner. The Islanders are dangerous even when Nelson wasn’t clicking; what’s going to happen to the league when he clicks?

Scott Mayfield

I’ve said it once, I will say it again; Scott Mayfield won the Islanders the game last night. Mayfield basically said, “okay, I’ve had it, this game is going to be over because I want it to be, I’m tying the puck up, outmuscle me.” And no one was able to outmuscle Mayfield at all. For the last 18 seconds, Mayfield kept the puck on the boards. Mayfield has a purpose, and he fulfilled it. Mayfield also got on the scorer’s sheet last night with an assist.

Honorable Mentions

Josh Bailey has to be mentioned as one of the top players. Bailey is now point per game in the playoffs. He is also tied for 4th in the NHL in assists during the playoffs. Bailey is the anchor of the B-B-B line and creates offense for everyone around him. Bailey has been criticized for too long; hopefully, now the criticisms will stop. JG Pageau deserves a mention as well because he’s the do it all guy. Lou Lamoriello should get a parade through the streets of Long Island for that trade. Pageau is tied for 3rd in playoff goals this season. How many playoff goals does that late first-round pick have again?

Conclusion

The Islanders are one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Soak it in Isles fans, the day you’ve dreamt about is almost here. Nine more wins and you’re lifting the Stanley Cup. The Islanders play the Flyers on Tuesday at 7 pm ET.