Earlier last week, I put a poll out on Twitter to gauge the optimism of the New York Islanders faithful as the 2022-23 season draws near. The results were quite shocking, given the displeasure after a lack of off-season moves.
As we are a few weeks from training camp, where does your confidence lie for #Isles in 2022-23?
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) September 7, 2022
Not only do the New York Islanders open at home in 2022-23, with four straight at UBS Arena after a 13-game road trip to start 2021-22, but their longest road trip of this upcoming season is five games.
The defense is much improved, with a healthy Ryan Pulock and the addition of potential-filled Alexander Romanov, along with the subtractions of Zdeno Chara and Andy Green. With Ilya Sorokin taking the reigns and Semyon Varlamov healthy and backing up, the goaltending should give the Islanders a fighting chance most nights.
The Islanders do have to prove that they can handle an entire 82-game schedule with a rookie head coach.
The New York Islanders should be competing for the Stanley Cup Playoff in 2022, but a lot is riding on many players bouncing back.
Read what other reporters think of the New York Islanders as we get set to enter 2022-23, from local to out-of-market:
Sammi Silber, Washington Hockey Now:
“In my opinion, the Islanders aren’t a playoff team. Sure, they have Ilya Sorokin, but goaltending isn’t enough on its own to make the postseason. After a disappointing season, New York made the mistake firing Barry Trotz, who led them to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals.
However, it wasn’t Trotz that made the Islanders miss the postseason; it was a myriad of things, without a doubt, but not Trotz. So, having a first-year coach overseeing a squad that didn’t change too much — and missed out on some star power this summer — may make it difficult for this team to simply turn into a contender again.”
Sheng Peng, San Jose Hockey Now:
“The Islanders appear to be a team at a crossroads. Last year, they missed the playoffs, but in the previous two seasons, they were a round away from the Stanley Cup Final. Packed with contracts with 30-something forwards, this might be this version of the Isles’ last chance to do something great together before they get broken apart.”
Marco D’Amico, Montreal Hockey Now:
“The Islanders were one of the hottest teams to end the 2021-2022 season. If not for a historically horrendous start, they’d have challenged for more than the wild card spot.
With key youngsters like Wahlstrom, Dobson and newly acquired Alexander Romanov pushing this veteran group, they could very well surprise a few in a highly competitive Metro division.”
Colby Guy, Florida Hockey Now:
“With an improved defensive group and a calmer schedule to start the year, the New York Islanders are going to be a competitive team again. Looking at last year’s group, a big reason why they were as flat as they were was because they had significant holes on defense following the departures of Nick Leddy and Devon Toews. They tried to fill that hole with Zdeno Chara — who did not have much left in the tank — and it backfired tremendously.
“Especially when injuries and COVID became a factor throughout the season. Starting the season with 13-straight road games was rough on the entire team and they got the short end of the stick when it came to COVID. Neither of those things will be a factor this year. They are returning with the majority of the group that went to the 2021 Semifinal, along with improved versions of Noah Dobson and Oliver Wahlstrom, so it is not hard to see this team competing for a playoff spot. Wahlstrom and Dobson’s development this year will be a key factor and it will be interesting to see if Robin Salo can slot in as the team’s full-time sixth defenseman after showing he can in spurts last year.”
Adrian Dater, Colorado Hockey Now:
“Despite all the “Lazy Lou” memes on social media over the summer, I think this will still be a competitive team in 2022-23. Will it be a playoff team? A tough call, but I somehow see them sneaking in.”
Sean Cuthbert, Hockey Night in New York:
“Thanks to a lot of question marks heading in, I could see this season going any which way. Will there be a seamless transition to the Lambert era? Will enough veterans rediscover their scoring touch? And can younger guys like Wahlstrom and Bellows become bigger contributors? They need a lot to bend their way, but if you mix all that together to varied success, I think the Isles ultimately get back in as a wild card.
They have what’s probably the best goaltending tandem in the league and they’ll be younger and more mobile on the back end, so their goal differential (as Mr. Lamoriello likes to emphasize) should improve from that alone, leading to more notches in the win column and a ticket to the dance.”
Brendan Azoff, The Hockey Writers:
“It’s a difficult question to answer. You can’t base it solely on last year, but you can’t completely discount it either. I think that Lou not going out and getting any of the big fish they were linked to hurts the morale. And I think that having a new coach, although they are familiar, is an unknown factor. It could be a spark the team needs, or it could lead to regression. The other factor going against them are the amount of talented teams in the East. The Blue Jackets got better. The Devils got better. The Senators got better. There are only 8 spots. I think the Rangers, Hurricanes, Leafs, Lightning, Panthers are going to make it. That leaves one metro spot and two wild card spots for the Islanders to get in. They are competing with the Penguins, Capitals, Bruins, and the before mentioned Senators, Devils, and Jackets. If I had to pick, I think the Sens, Penguins, and Capitals sneak in. Sorokin could force the Isles past the Caps. But my gut is telling me no, but it will be close.”
Brendan Azoff may cover the New York Rangers, but his outlandish, comedic takes, as well as in-depth analysis, makes him a must-follow entering the 2022-23 season.