The New York Islanders had a disappointing but promising ending to their 2017 season. They finished the season with 94 points, the same amount of points as the Western Conference champions Nashville Predators. Those points were not enough to get the team into the playoffs again. The Islanders missed the playoffs by 1 point. They finished a point behind the Toronto Maple Leafs who went on to lose to the Capitals in 7 games. That was the disappointing part of it, the promising part of it was their surge. The Islanders were way out of the playoff picture when they fired Jack Capuano. The Islanders promoted Doug Weight to interim head coach for the rest of the season and spoiler alert, he is here to stay. The Islanders finished 24-12-4 under Doug Weight for the rest of the season. He changed the culture around the team and pushed the team a little harder than usual, rightfully so. Some other promising signs was the resurgence of Andrew Ladd and Ryan Strome under Weight. Andrew Ladd struggled in the first few months of the season Capuano using him on the 4th line didn’t help. When Weight came in he put Ladd on the 2nd line and he played much better the rest of the way, finishing with 23 goals. Ryan Strome was always known as Capuano’s scapegoat. Strome would always find himself in the stands a lot under Capuano. Under Weight, Strome got more time and should signs of improvement. The Islanders team seems much more stable under Doug Weight.
Now with that said, what do we expect of the Islanders this season? Some questions the Islanders face are, Can Doug Weight have a full season of success? Can the kids make a significant impact? How will their defense recover with the loss of Hamonic? John Tavares contract? We can talk about some of those now. This is officially Weight’s team. He changed his coaching staff and had the summer to tweak his system. He seems to be very good with kids, which is a positive because the Islanders have a lot of youth. Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech all have a very good chance of playing NHL games this year, that’s young. Josh Ho-Sang and Mathew Barzal are two promising prospects that the Islanders have been waiting for. We got a glimpse of Ho-Sang last season, he brought life and energy to the Islanders helping them make a playoff push. Barzal on the other hand, well he led his team to the WHL championship to finish his junior hockey career. Losing Hamonic hurt the Islanders defense, but they hope for kids to jump in. Pelech, Mayfield, Pulock are all fighting for that final spot. The Islanders are also back to a 2-goalie system. Which means Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss will split starts throughout the season. The John Tavares contract situation will now enter into the season. We all know what he’s waiting for, that is to find out more about the Islanders future on and off the ice. The money won’t be a problem and he has shown how much he likes it here. But he needs to see roster improvement and clarity on an arena before signing that contract. The biggest acquisition of the summer was the addition of Jordan Eberle. Eberle was considered to have a ‘down year’ last year and he finished with 51 points. The vision of John Tavares and Jordan Eberle together on the same line seems pretty scary. That duo could do some damage and put the Islanders back into the playoffs.
Based on training camp, these are likely the Islanders lines heading into the season.
Anders Lee – John Tavares – Jordan Eberle
Andrew Ladd – Mathew Barzal – Josh Bailey
Anthony Beauvillier – Brock Nelson – Josh Ho-Sang
Kulemin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck/Chimera
Leddy – Boychuk
De Haan – Seidenberg
Hickey – Pelech/Mayfield/Pulock