The Islanders have started the 2019-2020 season with a record of 5-3-0, overcoming inconsistent play and general rustiness.
With the start to the new season, some players have gotten off to great starts to the year and haven’t been getting the praise they quite deserve. Here are three Islanders players who have flown under the radar early on this season.
#3 Johnny Boychuk
Boychuk is entering his sixth season as an Islander, and for the first time in his career on Long Island, his ice time will be limited by head coach Barry Trotz. With the arrival of top prospect Noah Dobson and their massive stockpile of defensemen the 35-year-old will see a decrease in play time to benefit him later on this season.
Boychuk has had an excellent start to the season despite all the chatter of him getting less ice time this season. His physical presence hasn’t disappeared whatsoever and has been helpful not only defensively, but has had some key offensive moments early on this season. As of Friday, Boychuk was ranked fourth in the entire NHL with a blocked-shot-per-sixty-minute rate of 7.74/60.
Boychuk has been clutch this year too. He made an amazing play keeping the puck in the zone in the dying minutes of the third period against St. Louis, as the Islanders were trailing 2-1 with under a minute remaining in the third.
Anders Lee. Tie game. Bedlam. pic.twitter.com/m0oOjZRN18
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) October 14, 2019
Boychuk’s game has been solid as usual despite getting older, and he will look to continue this pace into the season.
#2 Brock Nelson
Nelson signed a six-year contract extension with the New York Islanders shortly after the end of the 2018-19 season and has not looked back since.
The 28-year-old has started the 2019-20 campaign with seven points and four goals. Nelson has averaged a total of 18:20 minutes of ice time early on this season and has been a trusted player by Barry Trotz.
— NHL (@NHL) October 20, 2019
Brock Nelson has flown under the radar as a trusted penalty killers on the team. With Valtteri Filppula in Detroit, Nelson has been relied upon to step up in a more defensive role. All of these facts make Nelson one of the most undervalued players in the National Hockey League.
#1 Leo Komarov
Yes, you’re reading this right… Leo Komarov has been the most underrated New York Islanders player so far. Komarov has not been perfect. He has struggled in the face-off circle and made a few mistakes, but he has quietly led the Islanders in many facets of their game.
Contrary to popular belief, Komarov is a gifted offensive player. He has exceeded 25-points a whopping four times in the first six seasons of his career. So far this season, he is on pace for 35 points thanks to three timely assists in seven games.
Early in the season, Komarov and Anthony Beauvillier were a deadly duo on the third line, combining for the majority of the Islanders offense. Not only that, but Komarov is a +3, providing effective defense for Trotz, especially late in games.
One minute left in a tie game, and Leo Komarov is getting triple shifted 🤷🏻♂️
— Chris McNally (@thechrismcnally) October 13, 2019
If Komarov can keep it up, echos of his expensive contract and limited offensive capabilities will cease to exist.