It seems a lot of the hockey experts are sleeping on the New York Islanders. The Isles with their talent and depth have a good chance to be a force in the Eastern Conference this season. Do not under-estimate the Isles, who are this year’s NHL sleeper team.
This is a big year for the New York Islanders organization. They need to sign John Tavares to a long-term extension and finally get their building situation resolved.
It all starts with a big season on the ice.
Experts Give Extra Motivation
The NHL experts have cast serious doubts on the Islanders. The Hockey News predicted the Isles would miss the playoffs this season and finish seventh in the Metro. And Vegas has set the Islanders, over-under line at 88.5 points.
New York Islanders
The Islanders were already a hungry team. These predictions give the blue and orange the opportunity to play with a big chip on their shoulders.
Players, coaches, front office personnel, and the rest of the organization can say all they want they don’t look at predictions or what the media says. Trust me they know.
Two years ago when almost the entire hockey world picked the Florida Panthers to beat the Isles in the first round. The entire organization was very aware of that fact.
The Isles were already motivated but the media might have just given them an extra edge.
Talent & Depth
Don’t be fooled Islander fans, this is a talented team. So many things went wrong last year and they only missed the playoffs by one measly point.
Ryan Strome is in Edmonton and Jordan Eberle is now here with the Isles. Even on a bit of a down year, Eberle produced 51 points last season. The up and down Strome hasn’t come close to that production since his first full season.
The Isles will have four solid to strong forward lines. This group will be lead by the top line of Tavares – Eberle – Anders Lee. Did anybody score more goals than Lee from Thanksgiving on?
Brock Nelson has a lot on the line this year from a personal standpoint. He is a restricted free agent at season’s end and if he can produce 50+ points he will get rewarded with a lucrative new contract.
The Isles will have a lot of very focused and motivated players, as they have nine unrestricted free agents at season’s end.
On the back end, the Isles are very deep. They have two starting goalie’s and go eight deep on the blue line. That doesn’t include top blue line prospect, Devon Toews who is knocking on the NHL door. This group should have the Isles in every game.
Opportunity in Metro
While the Metro might be the toughest division in hockey, there is a big opportunity in the division. Columbus looks strong but questions abound on every other team.
Having gone through the gauntlet of the Stanley Cup playoffs the last two years it has to have some effect on the Penguins this season. The Capitals lost a lot of talent, veterans, and depth due to their salary cap crunch. The Rangers still have questions on their blue line, as well at center, and with their backup goalie.
Carolina is getting closer but questions remain in goal and they are a young team. The Flyers are a year away from challenging for the playoffs, while the Devils have a long way to go.
For all these reasons yours truly has the Isles as this year’s sleeper in the NHL. Take it to the bank, the Islanders will finish second in the Metro.