New York Islanders Midseason Awards

By Chris Dordon
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Jan 9, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game winning goal to defeat the New Jersey Devils in overtime at the Prudential Center. The Islanders defeated the Devils 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we made it Islanders fans. The All-Star break is right around the corner and we’ve reached, and just slightly passed, the midpoint of the season. What were you all expecting at this point back in October? I bet it was not the lead in the Eastern Conference. Strange how things like that happen, huh?

Currently, the New York Islanders sit at 29-13-1. At 59 points, they sit atop the Eastern Conference, above the Penguins, Lightning, and Canadiens. They just went into Madison Square Garden and stomped the red-hot rival New York Rangers (13-1 in their last 14 prior to the game), 3-0,  the first Islanders shutout at MSG since 1975. That goalie’s name? Billy Smith. This year is kind of a big deal to not only the team, but the success-starved fan base who haven’t had much to cheer for since the likes of Smith, Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, and Bryan Trottier. So where do we send the credit for the resurgence of the New York Islanders? Here are your 2014-15 New York Islanders Midseason Awards.

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Most Improved Islander

The Most Improved Islander (MII) award goes to the player who has stepped it up over their performance last year, whether it was with the Isles or another franchise. This really could go to two different players, but I’ll give it to Ryan Strome. The 21 year-old Mississauga native played in 37 games for the Islanders last year. He began the year in Bridgeport of the AHL, lighting it up with 49 points in 37 games, earning a selection to the AHL All Star Game. After his call-up to the Islanders, it was a bit rocky. He bounced around on the lines, and put up 18 points in those 37 games he played. At one point, he had been assigned to play on the fourth line! This year, however, Strome has turned it up. He has played a much better defensive game this season, and his hockey IQ is out of this world. He has put up 30 points in 43 games this year so far, on pace for around 60. He has found a home on a line with Brock Nelson, the other candidate for MII. One of the best line combinations this year has been what is referred to as the “kid line” of Strome, Nelson, and another young but talented forward, Anders Lee. Ryan Strome is your “Most Improved Islander” of the first half of the 2014-15 NHL season.