After the New York Islanders were eliminated last night, Jordan Eberle was interviewed. He had some words on the future of the team going forward.
The wound is still fresh. Sure, we knew the New York Islanders weren’t going to be a playoff team for a while now but having it be mathematically impossible to make the playoffs is a completely different feeling.
This year stung in particular because there were so many positive signs with this team. Mathew Barzal and John Tavares producing over a point per game, Anders Lee being a 40 goal scorer, Josh Bailey proving last year wasn’t a fluke, Jordan Eberle fitting right in and the emergence of Ryan Pulock.
Yet, with everything that broke right, they’re still going to be a lottery team. It’s really a mind-boggling reality that we’re faced with. How can this team be this bad?
After the game last night, once the final nail in the coffin was placed, Jordan Eberle spoke about this year’s Islanders team, and what he said rang true.
He talks about this teams potential. As much as fans are frustrated, and rightfully so, there are a lot of pieces here that you can build around. Obviously retaining John Tavares is the most important thing right now, but you still have a young Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock under control for years to come and you have Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle under team control next year as well.
The Islanders top-six isn’t the problem, in fact, it’s the best thing about this team. It’s the bottom two-lines, defense, and play in net that’s the question marks. Sure it seems like a lot but that can, keyword being can, be fixed this offseason.
Bottom Six Fix
The Islanders have Kieffer Bellows and Josh Ho-Sang waiting for their opportunity. Yes, it was idiotic what the Isles did with Ho-Sang this year, but if he plays 82 games next year he’s going to be a productive asset to this team.
Same goes for Bellows. I thought he was nuts last summer when he said he wanted to play in the NHL next year. He basically made it impossible for the Islanders to put him anywhere but the NHL level next year with his play in the WHL.
If the top-six remains the same next year, a third line of Bellows – Beauvillier – Ho-Sang will be a cheap and extremely effective depth scoring line. There is potential there.
With Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey and Dennis Seidenberg coming off the books the Islanders have room to add a defenseman or two to the mix. Luckily, thanks to the Travis Hamonic trade, the Isles have two lotto picks to play with.
Package a first round pick from this year, a current defensive prospect, and Michael Dal Colle for a top-four level defenseman and you’re already improved with still a pick in the first round this year. You can then use that pick on Ty Smith or Noah Dobson who is hopefully NHL ready by 2019-2020.
The same logic applies to the goalie position. In addition to their two first rounders, they also have two second-round picks in this year’s draft. You can base a package around a second-round pick, Brock Nelson and a throw-in for an upgrade at the goalie position.
If the Islanders came into next year with a new number one goalie, another top-four defenseman to go along with Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk and Ryan Pulock, a new and improved third line, John Tavares being retained, and a new G.M. and Coach, wouldn’t you be excited for next year. I know I’d certainly be.
It may seem like a lot on paper, but the Islanders are just a few key moves away from putting themselves into contention. I certainly see where Jordan Eberle is coming from.