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New York Islanders

Effort an Issue, 3 Things the New York Islanders Should Do



New York Islanders

Prior to the New York Islanders contest against the Buffalo Sabres, identity line member Casey Cizikas said, “It’s at that point right now where you know, each game you’re going into is the biggest game of the year, and that’s a mindset,”

“When you go out there, you play a full 60, and you do what you have to do to help the team be successful.”

And in a game where the Islanders could not afford to leave without two points, they left with zero as they lost 6-3. The Buffalo Sabres seemed to want it more, and the New York Islanders skated as if it was an exhibition game.

“We didn’t bring our best effort tonight, and we knew how big of a game it was for us.” Kyle Palmieri said, who scored two goals in the loss.

That’s a problem. And not giving total effort in a must-win game pretty much admits defeat. Not just on the game, but on the season.

And that’s not to say the players do not care. Of course they care. You can tell in the postgame pressers how frustrating it is, and no one shows more frustration that New York Islanders captain Anders Lee.

This team’s mindest is a bit broken right now, no one pulling enough on the rope, which has led to some disastrous losses.

“We’ve got a lot to work on,” Lee said following the loss. “It starts with ourselves and playing for the guy next to you, and building off of individually, and as a team playing the right way.”

As the franchise’s captain, Lee is responsible for getting his teammates to respond.

But after 43 games, the New York Islanders have not responded and it does not seem like the entire team is interested in improving.

On Monday following morning skate, Barry Trotz was asked a direct question about if he still believes in this team or if changes need to be made. This is what he had to say:

“I believe in this roster in a sense that if everybody played up to our potential, our ceiling, then we could stack a bunch of games together and be a team that is hard to play against.”

But that’s not reality since we have yet to see a full 60-minute effort this season. Too many guys have played below their potential.

And with the season just about lost, it is time to be realistic about the situation and use the remaining games to develop certain players.

Make A Trade Now

I know it’s not hockey-related, but when the New York Yankees traded players and called up the “Baby Boomers” in a “lost” 2016 season, the team was rejuvenated and became exciting again.

The Islanders need a shake-up.

Being sellers at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline seems like a given, and although waiting may provide more value for said players given the desperation level of certain clubs, a move needs to be made sooner than later.

The Islanders have four unrestricted free agents in Cal Clutterbuck, Zach Parise, Andy Greene, and Zdeno Chara, four that can be moved before or at the trade deadline.

Cal Clutterbuck and Zach Parise play a style that playoff teams need, and given their play this season, they have made themselves valuable assets. That’s not to say that they can’t re-sign with the Islanders in the offseason, but why not get as much as you can for them now?

Andy Greene is more than likely staying put. Yes, at 39, he probably wants a chance at a Stanley Cup. But he agreed to come to Long Island two seasons ago because he did not want to move his family and believed he had a chance to win.

Chara wants to win another championship, and it is not an unlikely situation that he will be moved to a competitor in what could be his final chance before he hangs the skates up. No, there won’t be much value coming back in return, but like mentioned above, trading Chara opens up a spot for a guy like Robin Salo.

Whether it be players with some NHL experience or players who have yet to experience NHL action, these moves will allow management to see what they got in the system and start building next year’s game plan.

Bring Robin Salo Back Up

I’ve written previously on the importance Zdeno Chara played in the exponential growth of Noah Dobson’s game. Even with Chara’s on-ice struggles at age 44, there’s no debating the importance of his mentorship.

But with the Islanders far out of a playoff spot, it’s time to make some decisions.

Robin Salo, who is in the minors following a stint with the big club in Ryan Pulock’s absence, should be in this New York Islanders lineup on a nightly basis. Let him get the experience in a lost season, and if you have to move a defenseman like Zdeno Chara or waive a player like Sebastian Aho since neither of those two are part of the future, you make the necessary moves.

Salo has shown to have a similar skill set that former Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy had. A skill set that the Islanders desperately need, given how bad their transition game has been this season. Salo clearly is part of the future and could be a staple in the lineup next season.

The 23-year old defenseman had one goal and three assists in his first 18 career NHL games.

Play Kieffer Bellows

Although 23-year old forward Kieffer Bellows has not faired well at the NHL level and does not appear to be part of the plans, he should be playing on a nightly basis.

The biggest issue in his game is that he is a one-dimensional player. And in the Barry Trotz system, the lack of attention to the small details, especially in the defensive zone, will limit your minutes.

If the Islanders are going to part with Bellows in a trade, this is the time to let him play and get his value up to as high as possible.

In 20 games this season, Bellows has three goals and six assists.


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