Little Down the Middle
The New York Islanders had a great one-two punch down the middle with John Tavares and Mathew Barzal. As we all know we don’t have that strength anymore with Tavares bolting to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Taking Barzal’s spot this season is Brock Nelson. The man that disappears for almost half a season is now responsible for spearheading the Islanders secondary scoring. That’s not confidence inducing.
We saw last season as Brock Nelson’s line vanished for much of the year. Anthony Beauvillier even earned himself a demotion in January. When he eventually returned days later he had the good fortune of playing with Mathew Barzal and caught fire.
Interesting how playing with good players helped Anthony Beauvillier.
After Brock Nelson, the Islanders depth chart at center doesn’t get any better. Valtteri Filppula is in all likelihood going to be the Islanders third center. The 34-year-old had an OK season with Philadelphia last year, but at his age when does that start to slip?
Casey Cizikas will be reunited with his old buddies Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. The three could do some damage, but with around ten to eleven minutes of ice-time, they alone won’t be the Islanders saving grace.
The drop off after Mathew Barzal is cavernous. And that cavern might be the bottom of the NHL standings if Brock Nelson disappears and Filppula starts regressing. Two outcomes that are incredibly likely.