The New York Islanders addition of Jordan Eberle may prove vital in the scoring department in the 2017-2018 season. The Isles only hole remaining is a second line center, but it is not as gaping as you may think.
After failing to secure a second top six forward over the weekend, the big question is what’s next for the New York Islanders? July 1st marks the beginning of free agency and some names may catch Garth Snow’s attention.
After trading Travis Hamonic to the Flames, the New York Islanders opened five million dollars in cap space for next season. Management’s priority will be to re-sign restricted free agent Calvin De Haan to a new deal then go from there.
Experts have predicted De Haan’s contact to range between three and four million a year. That should leave Garth Snow with roughly five million dollars to improve the team.
When looking at the Islanders lineup, the only glaring spot is the lack of a second line center. There is no doubt it would be great if Snow can land Matt Duchene or Alex Galchenyuk on the trading block but they shouldn’t break the bank in free agency.
New York Islanders
Trust The Farm, Not Free Agency
The two big centers that may catch the eye of Islander fan are Martin Hanzal and Brian Boyle. Last season Hanzal scored 20 goals in 71 games for the Wild, while Boyle had 13 goals splitting time between the Lightning and Maple Leafs. Neither of these players are worth putting yourself in a tight money situation for.
The Islanders would be much better off trusting the system than to break the bank on a veteran free agent. It’s finally time for the youth movement in Brooklyn. The Islanders have spent the last five season building an elite group of prospects and it is time management puts its faith in them.
Matthew Barzal will certainly have more than a fair shot to make the opening day roster next season. Barzal finished his last stint with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL by winning playoff MVP for his efforts in his team’s championship run.
The 20-year-old had 69 points in 41 games played during the regular season. Barzal is more capable of manning center on the second or third line for the Islanders next season and has potential to be a franchise player.
In 66 games with the Islanders last season, rookie Anthony Beauvillier had nine goals and 15 assists. Beauvillier was a surprise addition to the team out of the camp but slowly matured as the year went on.
Towards the end of the season, Beauvillier showed the ability to hold his own in the NHL and is a natural center. Doug Weight showed more faith in the 20-year-old towards the later part of the season. It will be interesting to see how Beauvillier continues to develop in his second NHL season and where the Isles place him in the lineup.
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What About Ho-Sang and Dal Colle?
Next year will also be the first full season of Josh Ho-Sang who emerged onto the scene and shown more potential than any recent Islanders prospect. Ho-Sang had ten points in 21 games played a brought a much-needed level of flare and attitude to the Islanders locker room. Weight and company will look to see the same level of production, if not more, from Ho-Sang next season, who is already a fan favorite.
The Islanders also have Michael Dal Colle in the rear-view mirror. Dal Colle put up good numbers last season in Bridgeport and will likely get another year of seasoning next year. Dal Colle was ranked as the Islanders third best prospect going into last year.
Although he is taking a little longer to develop the Islanders should not put themselves in a position to keep Dal Colle off the lineup card for much longer. We could see him in blue and orange at next season the earliest and without a doubt for the 2018-2019 season.
As far as the second line goes, even if the Islanders want to stick Barzal and Beauvillier lower in the lineup they will still survive. Weight has the option to put Brock Nelson or Josh Bailey at second line center and feel more than comfortable. Nelson has scored 20 goals in each of his last three seasons and although he certainly needs to step up his play he would largely benefit from consistently playing on a line with Andrew Ladd.
The same goes for Bailey who is coming off a career year and has set the bar for what we should expect from the veteran. We’ll see what Snow’s game plan is when free agency begins and the trade rumors continue to swirl as the summer goes on.