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New York Islanders Three Steps To Being Stanley Cup Contender

UNIONDALE, NY - SEPTEMBER 17: A fans has per photo taken with the Stanley Cup prior to a preseason game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on September 17, 2017 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NY - SEPTEMBER 17: A fans has per photo taken with the Stanley Cup prior to a preseason game between the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on September 17, 2017 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 26: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders reacts in the third period against the Florida Panthers during their game at Barclays Center on March 26, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Forwards

John Tavares has to return. There’s no question that he has to come back. I know Mathew Barzal is great, and he’ll continue to be great. But a single great or even superstar level player doesn’t carry a team to the Stanley Cup in the NHL. Look how Tavares has done alone on the Isles. Or even Connor McDavid has done with the Oilers. A team needs more than one guy.

With Tavares and Barzal, the Islanders have that duo a championship teams need. Surround them with Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvillier and the Islanders have one of the better top six in the league.

The bottom six is the issue for the Islanders. I firmly believe that a healthy Casey Cizikas is a good third line option for the Islanders. We’ve seen him put up 29 points in a single season and keep the penalty kill at a top four 84.5 percent.

But to make room for the youth that should be making the team next season – Josh Ho-Sang and Keiffer Bellows – the Isles need to make some room. A deal including Brock Nelson and Cal Clutterbuck would make some room on the roster and maybe return a decent defender as well.

The Islanders are set going forward as they enter 2018-19. That is, so long as they keep John Tavares. If they can keep the captain they only need to ship Nelson and Clutterbuck out to make room for one or two kids.

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