Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders have many reasons to be optimistic. Proving doubters wrong and rewarding hopeful fans is normal now for the exciting, gritty team, as the 2020 playoffs seem like a sure thing. Although these expectations beg the question, do the Islanders have enough to contend for the Stanley Cup?
This question is one that everyone asks, however, this Islanders team seems special. Contending for the top of the Metropolitan division for the rest of the season seems like reality, as a tight three-way race between Washington, New York, and the Penguins will most likely emerge. Carolina is also a threat. But being in the same tier as former Stanley Cup winners is always a good sign but questioning whether the Islanders have enough firepower is a concern some may have.
The Islander’s goaltending, like last season, is phenomenal. Barry Trotz has a way with goaltending and defense to seemingly turn any goaltender into a Vezina candidate. Although this defensive gritty style can win games, one may ask the question of whether the Islanders have enough offense to stay in higher-scoring games. Mathew Barzal is a young star in this league, and he has a good surrounding cast around him with the likes of Beauviller, Lee, Nelson, and more. At the deadline, don’t be surprised if the Islanders went and tried to trade for a more offensive player to help balance their attack.
Even without trading for some offensive firepower, the Islander’s defense-first mentality traditionally works when grinding through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As long as the injury bug doesn’t strike, and Trotz message and defensive philosophies don’t wear thin, the Islander’s should be in a spot to contend for the Stanley Cup this upcoming April.
The offseason is where Lou Lamoriello will have to work his magic, as many enticing free agents will be up for grabs. One of the biggest, more exciting names being Taylor Hall should intrigue all fans alike. Other intriguing names that should be on the Islander’s watch list are Chris Kreider, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Mikael Granlund. Pageau, who is performing quite well on the bottom-feeding Senators, should fit in quite nicely if the Islanders can’t resign Derrick Brassard. Mikael Granlund would be an odd acquisition, but considering his odd dropoff in production, a Barry Trotz system may be the perfect scenario for him to resurrect his career.
No matter what, 2020 will be an exciting year for the New York Islanders. Whether your expectations are sky high or buried in thick mud, we should all enjoy this team for what it is. It has been a rough past decade with many unfortunate events happening for the Islanders, but in this upcoming decade, it looks like the Islanders are turning a new leaf.