After the frenzy that is the free agency period, things have quieted down for the NHL and the New York Islanders. What are the five questions on everyone’s minds?
Now that the offseason feels like it’s actually here the hockey world is about to go quiet for a few weeks, what are five of the biggest questions swirling around the New York Islanders?
What are five questions that fans are hoping to get answered by the beginning of the regular season?
1. Will Nick Leddy Be Traded?
Nick Leddy has been linked as a trade target from the New York Islanders since the end of the 2018-19 NHL season. The left-shot puck-moving defender has become surplus to requirements for the Islanders.
We know the Islanders want to add a top-quality forward. They went after free agency Artemi Panarin aggressively, and it seems that the Islanders are even trying their hand at landing Mitch Marner. Trading Nick Leddy and his $5.5 million cap hit can clear up space the Islanders need to land a similar player, and their corresponding cap hit.
If the Islanders are going to bring in a big player Nick Leddy will be traded, but so far here’s still on the roster. Maybe he’s here next season.
2. Will Lou Trust Youth?
Lou preaches patience. But it seems that he’s out of options to upgrade his roster. So does that mean he brings up a youth player earlier than planned to fill a void?
Kieffer Bellows played in the AHL for the entirety of last season, but he didn’t have a particularly good season with 19 points. He hasn’t necessarily proved he deserves a spot. But if Lou can’t add a player through free agency or doesn’t pull off a trade, it’s his only option.
If Lou brings in a player through trade, forget the idea of a youngster coming up. But the closer we get to camp without a trade or a free agent coming in the more likely it becomes that Lou brings in a kid from the system.
3. Will Mitch Marner Figure Out Where he Wants to Go?
Who knows if the New York Islanders are in on Mitch Marner. Reports have been flying ever since he became an RFA on him entertaining the notion of an offer sheet. But here we are more than a week out from July 1 and Marner still hasn’t signed, with anyone.
Can he just please sign somewhere so we can move on? Please? (PS: Please let it be the Isles.)
4. Will Noah Dobson Make The Roster?
There’s a gap up top for an Islanders prospect to fill, but there isn’t necessarily a spot on the blue line for Noah Dobson. With a second Memorial Cup in two years after this season, there isn’t much more Noah Dobson can learn or do by going back to juniors.
But with Leddy, Boychuk, Mayfield, Pulock, Pelech, Toews already on the roster there isn’t space for him. As much as there isn’t a benefit to have Dobson play in junior, there isn’t a benefit to have him sit in the press box either.
If Lou trades out Leddy or Hickey that gives a place for Dobson on the team. But will Lou wait till September when camp opens or will he make the move sooner?
5. Will Jim Hiller Be The Power Play Coach?
With a 14.5 percent efficiency, the New York Islanders power play was one of the worst in the league last season. If the Islanders are going to roll out the same roster as last season they’ll need to get better on the power play. Much better.
Thankfully, recent coaching hire Jim Hiller has had experience running a competent power play. Under Hiller’s coaching, the Toronto Maple Leafs were the best power play in the league across a number of factors over the last three years.
If Hiller could raise the Islanders power play to league average (~20 percent efficiency) that with it would represent a 5.5 percent increase. It’s probably a safe bet to say he’ll be the new guy in charge of the power play.