As the 2019-20 NHL season gets started, most teams sit with more questions than answers.
The Islanders are, again, one of the biggest uncertainties heading into the new season. Every player and coach can all be questioned to some degree. With a team as unpredictable as the Islanders, here are some bold predictions for the season.
The Islanders will finish with more points than last season.
Both the offense and the defense have improved, bringing in multiple new players like Derick Brassard, Noah Dobson and a new special-teams coach in Jim Hiller. While the loss of Robin Lehner hurts, the team can and is expecting to improve on all sides of the puck.
If Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz didn’t believe in this team’s current ability to win, they would have done whatever they could to bring in help. They believe that the lack of a strong power-play and high scoring offense can be solved from within this season and who’s to say they can’t?
The Islanders have the talent to fight with Washington for the Metropolitan Division again, and in the end, I think the Islanders will improve upon last season.
The Islanders will fix their power-play and offense.
With the departure of John Tavares, the team’s ability to score was going to decline. While it did, the rise of the defense held the team together, as the Islanders became one of the most grinding teams in recent NHL history.
One of the biggest regressions to occur was the power-play, which fell to second to last in the league and the Islanders were able say goodbye to Scott Gomez as a result. The power-play wasn’t the only thing wrong with the offense, as the Islanders had the second worst goals per game ratio in the playoffs at 2.7.
With these factors in mind, Trotz and his staff made it clear the focus the off-season was getting more shots on net and adjusting the way on how the Islanders play offense. It wouldn’t be surprising if we see the Islanders flip their offense like they did with their defense the season prior.
The Islanders will make trades.
Under Lamoriello’s reign, the Islanders have been very quiet on the trade front with almost nothing worth nothing occurring and no big moves being successfully made.
This season, with this core now mostly 3+ years together and understanding how to win, Lamoriello will finally begin to make the big moves that could be the final steps in making the Islanders legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
Goaltending will remain on par with last season.
Going into last season, most if not all Islanders fans believed goaltending was going to be some sort of issue. Thomas Greiss was coming off a bad year all around and Lehner was coming straight from the depths of hockey hell in Buffalo.
The Islanders had other plan and thanks to Trotz’s new goalie coach Mitch Korn. Eventually, they managed to foster managed to have the best goalie tandem in the league, winning the Jennings Trophy. If Korn and Trotz can make Greiss and Lehner into what they are now, it wouldn’t be surprising if they can do it again with Semyon Varlamov.
Varlamov has had a great career with Colorado and is likely the second-most talented goalie the team has ever had. Last season he hit a mid-season slump and was replaced by the young and promising Philipp Grubauer. Don’t expect that to happen again. The goaltending will be just fine.
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