When was the last time the Islanders had a good problem? Bet you can’t think of one. Well finally, the New York Islanders organization turned a leaf. The team seemed to have done nothing right up until the Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz era, but the narrative has changed. An issue the Islanders have right now is one of those “good problems” to have.
This team is loaded with depth on defense.
The Islanders have so much depth on defense that you can fill a each position on a baseball diamond and stick some in the bullpen, which is kind of what the Islanders are doing right now. The depth is not depth players that will fail you but they are either proven players or young studs ready to make an impact.
Dennis Seidenberg is no longer a player relied upon. The opening night roster will most likely consist of the seven defenseman that were on the roster last season (minus Seidenberg) but the depth defensemen have a good shot at making the team at some point during the season.
First is Thomas Hickey, a player who was the Islanders seventh defenseman last season after Devon Toews took his spot on the third pairing. Injuries held Hickey to play just 40 games last season, tallying four assists and a +5 rating.
Hickey doesn’t put up points but is always a reliable option for the defense. With so much depth, there is a good chance Hickey is used in a trade but I would not be surprised if he is still with the blue and orange on opening night.
Next there is Noah Dobson. The 12th overall pick in the 2018 draft stood out for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL (along with Félix Bibeau) after a trade from AB Titan. He stood out especially during the playoffs where he scored 29 points in 20 games, earning the MVP of the postseason and the QMJHL championship.
Of the young defense in the Islanders system, Dobson has the best chance of making the team out of camp. The PEI native had 52 points in 56 games during the regular season and was a +10, suggesting that there is a strong defensive upside to Dobson’s strong offensive game. The 19 year old may be ready to make the transition to the professionals.
Hickey and Dobson will battle for the seventh defensemen slot. But yet there is even more backup. Sebastian Aho, who many seem to forget about was an AHL all-star last season and spent time with the big club in the 2017-2018 season. He boasts speed and is a presence on the power play.
Along with Dobson making the transition to the pros, Bode Wilde will do the same. The former second round pick had a stellar season in juniors putting up 70 points in 62 games and was a + 28. Dobson and Wilde are similar players who put up points and are quarter stones to the future of the Islanders defense that could be ready soon.
At the end of the day, the Islanders finally have a good problem: defensive depth. Now, Lamoriello must decide how to mitigate this situation.