While there hasn’t been any progress on John Tavares’ extension talks and with no top NHL-ready center on the team besides him, the New York Islanders could potentially be more desperate for a center than ever before.
Being good down the middle is so critical to hockey teams because of the roles that centers take on throughout the game. Remember when the New York Islanders had a center group of Tavares, Nielsen, Strome, and Cizikas?
That group certainly played a large part in the Islanders having consecutive 100 point seasons. Fast forward to today and that is no longer the case as the team currently has some glaring holes in the middle of their lineup.
The only two centers that the Islanders can rely on at the moment are Tavares and Cizikas. Tavares obviously plays the first line while Cizikas mans the fourth. But what about lines 2 and 3?
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Sure they have a couple of guys who can fill in those spots like Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier. Are these two guys the answer though? Nelson’s lack of effort at times makes him become a liability on the ice and who knows how Beauvillier will fare over an entire 82 game season.
Most Isles fans will just brush it off and say how Mathew Barzal is waiting in the wings. Now don’t get me wrong, Barzal looks like an extremely gifted player, but what has he proven? He could make the team out of training camp and have immediate success or, more likely, could have some adjustments to make and end up in Bridgeport.
The scary thing is, what happens if Tavares leaves next year? Whatever the case may be, he still hasn’t agreed to commit to this team long term. If he doesn’t, the Islanders are left without a top line center. Also, there’s no Plan B behind Tavares either. As I mentioned before, I don’t believe anyone on the team can step into his role. When he got hurt last year, the options to replace him were
Also, there’s no Plan B behind Tavares either. As I mentioned before, I don’t believe anyone currently on the team can step into his role. When he got hurt last year, the options to replace him were unappealing, to say the least. On opening night of the 2018-19 season, who is playing on the first line with Lee and Eberle?
We all hope it’s Tavares but it may not be. The Islanders are potentially even more vulnerable at the center position. They desperately need to get themselves a legit, scoring center before they are stuck without one. Hopefully Snow can make a trade and acquire a Matt Duchene or an Alex Galchenyuk. That way the Islanders could at least be prepared for the worst case scenario.