Believe it or not, the New York Islanders 2018-19 training camp starts about one month from now. The Islanders will enter camp as a very motivated group.
A lot has happened to the New York Islanders this off-season, with the biggest news being John Tavares departure to Toronto. Despite that, the Islander players will enter camp very motivated.
There is no doubt the Islander players have started an internal rallying cry. Most Hockey Insiders have come out and said don’t expect much from the Islanders this coming season. That was their take after Tavares bolted for his hometown team.
However, many of the Islander players have had their backs up after hearing the “experts” assessment. In fact, Johnny Boychuk told Arthur Staple of the Athletic “That’s just a slap in the face when I see it. Our team is really good. I think we’re going to show them we are a good team.”
There is no doubt that as bad as the coaching was last year, the Islander players have to take responsibility for their performance. But under new head coach, Barry Trotz, this group appears to be committed to proving the hockey world wrong.
Players with A Lot at Stake
The Islanders have quite a few players with a lot at stake personally, this coming season. Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, Robin Lehner, and Jan Kovar will become unrestricted free agents at the end of this coming season. As of now, this is a very deep talented pool of UFA’s come next summer.
If any from this pending Islander UFA group puts up a big year, they will be rewarded with a big new contract from either the Isles or another club on the open market. However, if any of these players stumble it will cost them, literally.
Then we get to the young guns in Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Anthony Beauvillier. If Beauvillier who is a restricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season, can produce for a full-season he very easily could find himself signing a lucrative long-term deal next summer. While Pulock is signed through the 2019-20 season, he has an opportunity to show the new Isles brass he is a front-line defenseman.
Then we get to Barzal. While Barzal is only entering his second year of his entry-level status, another monster season by the 2018 Calder Trophy winner could result in a huge eight-year deal for him next summer. It would be easy to envision that scenario especially after what the Islanders went through this summer with Tavares.
When the puck drops come early October this should be a very motivated Islander group for a variety of reasons.