The New York Islanders are a franchise rich with history.
While most of their story was written by legendary names who spent the majority of their careers with the team, several other players have made brief stops on Long Island and made just as much of an impact.
Although their time with the team was short-lived, the contributions of these players shouldn’t be overlooked.
Here are just a few of the top one-hit wonders in New York Islanders’ history.
Robin Lehner (2019)
There wasn’t much optimism surrounding the Islanders in the 2018 offseason, especially after John Tavares spurned the organization and left for the Toronto Maple Leafs in free agency.
While the departure of Tavares was the lead narrative that summer, the addition of goalie Robin Lehner flew under the radar.
To that point in his career, Lehner had largely served as a backup with the Ottawa Senators before spending two losing seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. As for the Islanders, they were looking to shake up their goalie tandem following a disappointing year from the duo of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss.
That season, Lehner started 46 games, and his save percentage of .930% was the second-best in the NHL among qualified candidates. He and Greiss won the William M. Jennings Trophy that year as the goalie tandem that allowed the fewest goals during the regular season, helping the Islanders make it back to the playoffs for the first time in two seasons and achieve their highest point total in 35 years.
To make it all the more impressive, Lehner won the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy for his courage and perseverance after he had revealed in a letter in The Athletic his previous struggles with addiction and recent diagnosis as bipolar.
Viktor Kozlov, Tom Poti and Sean Hill (2007)
The offseason of 2006 was one of chaos and transition for the Islanders. Then owner Charles Wang cleaned out the organization’s front office and hired Neil Smith as general manager, only to fire him 41 days later and promote backup goalie Garth Snow to take his place.
However, before Smith’s termination, he signed veteran forward Viktor Kozlov and defensemen Tom Poti and Sean Hill, who all played significant roles in their one and only year with the Islanders.
Kozlov set a career-high of 25 goals that year. His four-goal performance against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden lifted the Islanders to a 7-4 win on Dec. 3, 2006. Meanwhile, both Poti and Hill put up decent offensive numbers from the blue line.
Poti, the former Ranger, jumped ship to the Island and led the team’s defensemen with 44 points. Hill was second with 25.
Both Kozlov and Poti signed contracts with the Washington Capitals the next offseason, while Hill joined the Minnesota Wild.
Brian Mullen (1993)
Brian Mullen spent most of his 10-year career as a member of the New York Rangers, but his swan song came with the Islanders.
While he didn’t necessarily light up the stat sheet in his age-30 season, Mullen scored a few big goals in the Islanders’ run to the Prince of Wales Conference Finals that season.
In the second round against the Penguins, Mullen’s third-period goal gave the Islanders a 5-4 lead in Game 6. The Islanders won the game 7-5 and eventually the series on David Volek’s overtime winner in Game 7.
Zdeno Chara* (2021)
Technically, Zdeno Chara wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. But it was fun to watch the future Hall of Famer close out his storied career back where it all started.
The Islanders selected Chara in the third round of the 1996 NHL Draft. He played in parts of four seasons with the team from 1999-2001 before moving on to enjoy future success with the Senators, Boston Bruins and Capitals. In 2022, Chara’s journey came full circle when he re-signed with the Islanders, although he certainly didn’t have the legs he once did.
Chara’s contributions that year came largely by serving as a role model to his younger teammates. However, he did get on the stat sheet one last time in the final game of his career.