With Andrew Ladd hurt the New York Islanders will likely run out a vomit inducing third line of Tom Kuhnhackl – Valtteri Filppula – Leo Komarov
When the New York Islanders brought in all their depth forwards we joked about the Isles running four fourth lines. Well, as things stand right now it looks like they for sure will be running two fourth lines.
As we sit right now, Andrew Ladd is too injured to participate. It also doesn’t help that he’s on one of the worst contracts in the NHL while producing a third of the production he was brought in for, but let’s focus on the injury.
With Ladd out the Islanders need to find a third line replacement. An obvious, fun, and exciting choice would’ve been either Keiffer Bellows or Josh Ho-Sang. Both of them are currently twiddling their thumbs in Bridgeport, Connecticut because everything closes at 8:00 pm.
Instead, the most likely scenario is a line of Thomas Kuhnackl – Valtteri Filppula – Leo Komarov. That’s nightmare inducing.
We’ll start with Kuhnackl, who’s career high in points is 16. With eight points in 69 games last year, he was virtually nonexistent for one of the best team’s in the league, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Last year, Kuhnackl had a CF percentage of 43.5 and a relative corsi of -9.6. He’s a borderline NHLer who is better suited in a fourth line or 13th forward role. He will be getting third line minutes to start the year.
Next up is veteran Valtteri Filppula. If this was 2014 I’d probably be pretty excited about Filppula being the third line center. Well, now he’s 34 and coming off a 33 point (11 goals, 22 assists) season.
He played just about 16:30 of ice time a night, which is a lot for a third liner but he was just marginally productive. I probably like him the best out of the three as he has the highest scoring ceiling and he’s won over 50 percent of his faceoffs in three out of the last five years but that’s like saying you enjoy the common cold over the flu, it’s not saying much.
Possession wise, Filppula is bad, like really bad. He had a 44.0 CF percentage (he hasn’t had a CF percentage north of 50 since 2015-2016) and a relative corsi of -7.4 the lowest of his career so far.
Lastly, there’s Leo Komarov. He had 19 points last year, and yes he put up 36 points that time and just missed out on 20 goals (a younger more expensive version of Jason Chimera) but he’s 32 years old now.
The Isles signed a 32-year-old fourth liner to a four year $12 million deal!
Well, cover your eyes corsi fans, Komarov has a 44.8 CF percentage and a -6.7 relative corsi. When this third line is on there’s a slim chance they’re in the offensive zone. Komarov’s offensive zone start percentage was 33.6, Kuhnackl’s was 34.7, and Filppula’s was 46.9.
These are bad, to slightly below average hockey players. Daily Faceoff ranks this the worst third line in the game and it’s easy to see why.
The Islanders biggest offensive issue was the third line last year and it’s somehow worse. You better hope that top two lines play to or exceed their expectations because don’t expect a darn thing from your bottom six.
During training camp, there’s plenty of things to overreact over. This is not an overreaction, the outrage from the fans is justified here.