Amid a busy offseason around the NHL, the New York Islanders have undergone little change, leaving more questions than answers heading into next season.
A) The league is about speed, having a superstar or two, having a sniper and elite goaltending. We have one… the goalie. What changes are being made to adapt to today’s NHL? B) Since we didn’t get Alex DeBrincat, what’s the plan B for getting a sniper? -Christopher Weiman
To answer the first part, I’d say the Islanders started to address their lack of speed and skill last year. Sure, they’re rooted in their physical style, but their biggest moves were made to infuse more offense into the lineup. You want a superstar? Here’s Bo Horvat to go along with Mathew Barzal. You want speed? It’ll be hard to find someone who can outskate Pierre Engvall.
However, the lack of an elite sniper has plagued the Islanders for years. They tried to deal for Alex DeBrincat to address that problem, but he preferred to play for the Detroit Red Wings instead.
Now that DeBrincat is off the market, there aren’t many other options left for the Islanders to choose from. Given how tight they and many other teams across the league are on cap space at the moment, adding a sniper is an issue they’ll try to address at the trade deadline if they’re in contention.
How are the Islanders going to clear cap space? – @THahn531
According to CapFriendly.com, the Islanders are $486,625 over the NHL’s salary cap. Ideally, they’d be able to trade away a contract or two to clear space, but as I said, many other teams around the league face the same issue. To make the room necessary, the Islanders will have to make cuts during training camp, and Ross Johnston should be the first to go.
Who do you see having a breakout year for the Isles? – @Max_Sacco23
I think the first player people’s minds jump to is Oliver Wahlstrom, but you have to remember he will need time to get back up to speed after missing 47 games last year with a lower-body injury.
In my eyes, the player to watch is Alex Romanov. It took him a while to adjust to the Islanders’ system in his first year with the team, but he was excellent once he finally figured things out. With a full year with the Islanders under his belt, Romanov should pick up right where he left off for the team this season.
Do you think any AHLers have a chance at making the team? – @Joseph_Duhaime
Out of training camp? Not very likely, as most of the lineup can probably be penciled in already.
But while they may not make the team out of training camp, a few players in the AHL will make their way to Long Island before the year is done.
Arnaud Durandeau seemed to adjust to the NHL game the quickest out of all the Islanders’ call-ups last season and should be the first player to get a call this year. William Dufour had a rough outing in his NHL debut but can earn another chance this season by having a solid training camp and staying consistent in Bridgeport.
Many of you are wondering when we’ll see Matthew Maggio in the NHL. He will start the year in Bridgeport. Bear in mind, though, the 20-year-old has only played three games at the professional level to this point, so I don’t think we can put a timetable on his debut just yet.
What changes are being made to address the power play? -John Ruane
The power play was inarguably the Islanders’ biggest problem last season, and it’s the one area that team president of hockey operations and general manager Lou Lamoriello hasn’t addressed summer.
The Islanders had the third-worst success rate in the NHL last year. At his June 6 press conference, Lamoriello mentioned that he felt the biggest problem facing the power play wasn’t so much the personnel itself but rather how the personnel worked together.
“I think all you have to do is go to the power play the year before in the second half and the success they had with the same individuals on it,” Lamoriello said. “You don’t change for the sake of changing by just subtracting.
“I think we’ve got some pretty good pieces for the power play. We’ve just got to get it to gel and understand that there’s only one puck out there. We have to move it, work it, and, as they say, get it to a two-on-one so that gives you the best chance to score.”
It doesn’t look as if any significant changes are coming to the power play on the ice this summer. However, there’s no excuse for the way things were last year. Something needs to change, and it may be with who is running the power play behind the bench. Last season, it was assistant coach John MacLean.
The Islanders should give control of the power play to someone else. It’s not as if things can get much worse.
Who wins in a fight: One Martin-sized Pageau or three Pageau-sized Martins? – @brianbutler225
I’ll answer this assuming they still have the same fighting ability as they do at their actual size. Matt Martin is the better fighter, but make no mistake, Jean-Gabriel Pageau can throw hands when he needs to.
Ultimately it’s about numbers, though. Give me the three Martins in five rounds.