The New York Islanders are a team of many uncertainties.
The team had an interesting off-season with major losses and gains. The gains include mostly front office changes such as the firings of Garth Snow and Doug Weight, and the hirings of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz.
The loses include #91 and Calvin de Hann.
Front Office and Coaching Staff Questions
How will the defensive play of the Islanders change under coach Barry Trotz? The Islanders had one of the worst defenses in the NHL last year. The team gave up 296 goals which were the worst among the league.
How will the Islanders new goaltender Robin Lehner, and returning goalie Thomas Griess fare under new eyes? Will this new goaltending tandem help Lehner and Griess develop into better goaltenders?
The Islanders will have a different style of play than of previous years. How will the team’s new management and coaching staff affect the team’s play during the season?
The Islanders made some offseason signs. The team signed Valtteri Filppula, Leo Komarov, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Jan Kover to contracts over the summer. Matt Martin was also traded for in exchange for Eamon McAdam.
While making these additions, they also had subtractions.
The team will miss #91’s 84 points and have a huge hole to fill at center.
There are a few questions that need to be answered.
Can Mat Barzal slide into the number 1 center spot for the team? Will Barzal put up 80+ point as he did last season as the number 2 center?
Who will be the 2nd line center for the Islanders? Is Brock Nelson the answer?
Brock Nelson signed a one-year deal, in what has to be a “prove it” year. Can Nelson be the 2nd line center for a team that desperately needs to fill a hole at center? Will Russian Jan Kover crack the roster and fill the hole at center?
Kovar put up 35 points in 54 games in the KHL. Kovar would need to impress the coaching staff enough to make the roster. Kovar could fill in the 3rd or 2nd line center spot now that a center is needed.
Will Trotz brake up the Eberle-Barzal-Beauvillier line? Will Anthony Beauvillier move down from Barzal’s line to play center? Beauvillier is a natural center and would prefer to play center according to Brian Compton.
Anders Lee and Josh Bailey are both coming off of career years. Lee put up 40 goals last season, while Bailey was named an all-star alongside #91. Will Lee and Bailey move down to the 2nd line or stay with Barzal on the first?
Will the Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck line be reunited? When the Islanders traded for Matt Martin, fans reminisced about the once deemed “Best 4th Line of Hockey” playing together. Will Trotz put Martin alongside Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck to reunite that line?
Where do Joshua Ho-Sang, Kieffer Bellows, and Devon Toews fit? With the recent additions to the team, how do, Ho-Sang Bellows and Toews fit? Bellows and Ho-Sang will have to beat out veteran players to earn a roster spot. They would have to straight out make the roster from opening night. Could we see a similar situation to Mat Barzal from 2 years ago when he was on the roster for 2 days and was returned to the WHL? Will Bellows and Ho-Sang play for the Sound Tigers? That is possible. Read our article on their projected lines here.
Will Devon Toews make the team? If Toews makes the team? Where will Sebastian Aho play? Aho played 22 games with the Islanders and tallied 6 points. Can Aho and Toews play together?
The Islanders have been on the “butt end” of jokes criticizing the team for being “homeless”. However, that is not the case.
The Islanders actually have 2 homes, one at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, and fan-favorite arena Nassau Coliseum.
How will the team splitting their home games between both arenas affect play? How will opposing teams fare at the Coliseum vs. Barclays?
The Islanders arrival at the Coliseum will surely be one of joy to Long Island fans who won’t take the train or drive to Brooklyn. Will the fans show up even if the team isn’t good?
If the Islanders make the playoffs, will the team play in Brooklyn or in Uniondale?
The team has many uncertainties that will be answered in the upcoming season. While it is certain that they lost “franchise” center John Tavares, the team could play better under Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello leading the charge.