2017-18 Season Preview: New York Islanders

Updated: December 6, 2017 at 10:04 am by Brock Seguin

Tavares-John

One year after reaching the 100-point plateau for the second straight season, the New York Islanders found themselves out of the playoffs in 2016-17, but the future still remains bright in Brooklyn.

There are a couple of reasons to like what lies ahead of the Islanders and it started when they stepped away from head coach Jack Capuano and hired Doug Weight as their new bench boss. Upon being hired, Weight took a .500 club and turn them into a 24-12-4 team down the stretch—tied for second in the NHL behind only the Washington Capitals over the last 40 games. During that run the Islanders were tied for fourth in goals for (3.00 GF/PG), but still struggled to keep the puck out of their own net, ranking 23rd in goals against (2.83 GA/PG). The front office didn’t do a lot to address the need at defence, returning with the same blueline and goaltending duo, but the offence looks stout once again.

This summer the Islanders sent Ryan Strome to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Jordan Eberle, who is expected to spend the season as John Tavares’ right-hand man. Eberle had well documented struggles in his first taste of NHL Playoff hockey, collecting just two assists in 13 games. However, the 27-year-ld scored 20-goals for the fourth consecutive season and has been one of the most consistent goal-scorers in the NHL over that stretch—tied for 30th with 97 goals. With Eberle on the right, Tavares is expected to have underrated power-forward Anders Lee on his left. Lee is coming off of a career-best 34 goals last season and is tied for 32nd in the NHL in scoring over the last three seasons (74). With a perennial 30-goal, 40-assist player down the middle, this first line should do plenty of damage.

LEFT WING CENTER RIGHT WING
Anders Lee
ANDERS LEE
John Tavares
JOHN TAVARES
Jordan Eberle
JORDAN EBERLE
Andrew Ladd
ANDREW LADD
Mathew Barzal
MATHEW BARZAL
Josh Bailey
JOSH BAILEY
Anthony Beauvillier
ANTHONY BEAUVILLIER
Brock Nelson
BROCK NELSON
Josh Ho-Sang
JOSH HO-SANG
Nikolay Kulemin
NIKOLAY KULEMIN
Casey Cizikas
CASEY CIZIKAS
Cal Clutterbuck
CAL CLUTTERBUCK

The third reason to be optimistic as an Islanders fan is the abundance of young talent up front. Familiar faces like Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and Andrew Ladd are still a part of the top-9, but this season they will be insulated by electrifying talents like Mathew Barzal, Josh Ho-Sang and second-year forward Anthony Beauviller. Barzal was the Islanders’ first-round pick (No.16 overall) in 2015 and recorded 167 points (37G / 130A) in 99 games with Seattle (WHL) over the last two seasons. Barzal has fantastic hands and playmaking ability, but also possesses the ability to put the puck in the net. Just watch the goal he scored vs. the New Jersey Devils a few days ago:

Ho-Sang is another former first-round pick (No.28 in 2014) and is set for his first full NHL season after a 21-game cup of tea with the Isles last season. During his brief stay in Brooklyn, Ho-Sang posted a 16-goal, 23-assist (39 point) per 82-game pace while playing key minutes in the New York lineup. Weight likely won’t be hesitant with his usage again, so look for the 21-year-old to build off what he started in 2016-17. Beauviller is the young-gun with the most NHL experience, after appearing in 66 contests a season ago. The No.28 overall pick in 2015 has plenty of goal-scoring and playmaking acumen and whether or not he improves on his rookie campaign will be reliant on his usage. Last year he averaged just 13:01 TOI/GM, but should play a larger role in his second-year, especially on the power-play—averaged just 0:30 PP TOI/GM.

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Nick Leddy
NICK LEDDY
Johnny Boychuk
JOHNNY BOYCHUK
Calvin de Haan
CALVIN DE HAAN
Dennis Seidenberg
DENNIS SEIDENBERG
Adam Pelech
ADAM PELECH
Thomas Hickey
THOMAS HICKEY

Unlike their group of forwards, the Islanders’ blueline mostly consists of experienced players. The unit is led by the swift skating Nick Leddy, who has become one of the most reliable fantasy defensemen during his time with the Islanders. Since joining New York in 2014-15, Leddy is tied for 23rd among rearguards in points (123) and 27th in goals (26) while skating in all but six games. Leddy was among the top-15 defensemen in power-play ice-time last year and will continue to see the kind of usage that makes him a safe No.3 fantasy D-man with No.2 upside. Besides Leddy and Johnny Boychuk the rest of this unit doesn’t have a lot of fantasy appeal. Even Boychuk, who has a massive point-shot, is a risky fantasy selection due to his durability concerns—the 33-year-old has missed 38 games in his first three years with New York.

One Islanders’ defenseman that should be on your watch list is Ryan Pulock. The 22-year-old, former first-round pick (No.15 in 2013) has posted great numbers with Bridgeport (AHL) thanks to a heavy-shot and offensive ability, but he hasn’t been able to breakthrough with the Islanders. Once again, he is expected to start the year in the AHL, but should be able to work his way onto the big club, especially if their power-play struggles early-on (t-24th in the NHL after Weight was hired last year).

GOALIES
Thomas Greiss
THOMAS GREISS
Jaroslav Halak
JAROSLAV HALAK

Last year was a rough year for Islanders’ netminders. At one-point, Jaroslav Halak found himself in the AHL and Thomas Greiss was unable to provide stable goaltending, posting a 2.68 goals against average (GAA) and .913 save percentage (SV%) in 49 games. Upon Halak’s return tot the NHL, the veteran went 6-1-0 with a .949 SV% in seven games. Both of these netminders are capable of being much better this season, but with them expected to split starts, each of their fantasy values are capped.

Season Outlook

The Islanders should be playoff contenders, but there’s a lot of those in the Metropolitan Division. Overall, I think goaltending is going to be an issue, but they are carried by one of the best players in the league and have some young forwards who could provide a ton of offence. They will definitely challenge for a playoff spot but it will come down to goaltending whether or not they make it or not.

Metropolitan

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  3. 3. New York Islanders
  4. 4. Columbus Blue Jackets
  5. 5. Carolina Hurricanes
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  8. 8. New Jersey Devils

Projections

Goals Assists Points
John Tavares (C) 32 John Tavares (C) 44 John Tavares (C) 76
Anders Lee (LW) 26 Mathew Barzal (C) 40 Jordan Eberle (RW) 58
Jordan Eberle (RW) 25 Josh Ho-Sang (RW) 37 Mathew Barzal (C) 55
Andrew Ladd (LW) 25 Nick Leddy (D) 34 Andrew Ladd (LW) 51
Brock Nelson (C) 23 Jordan Eberle (RW) 33 Josh Ho-Sang (RW) 49

Fantasy Rankings (Top 350)

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Brock Seguin

Brock has been the Editor-In-Chief of DailyFaceoff.com since the start of the 2012-13 season, the Host of the DFO Podcast since 2015 and Editor-In-Chief of DailyDugout since the 2017 season.
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