In his first stint in the NHL, Devon Toews was extremely impressive for the New York Islanders. Here’s why he can be even better next year.
2018-2019 was a season filled with bright sports for the New York Islanders. Arguably the biggest 180 from the season prior was the defense. A huge part of that improvement on the blueline was thanks to Devon Toews.
Toews made his NHL debut right before Christmas and he didn’t come out of the lineup after that. His impact was immediately felt, and he went on to play in 48 games for the Islanders last season.
In those 48 games, Toews had 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) over the course of a full year that’s a pace of 33 points. Even his advanced numbers were good. Toews had a 53.0 CF percentage, which would lead the way if you exclude Josh Ho-Sang’s 10 game sample size, the same goes for his 6.6 relative Corsi for.
He would average 17:54 minutes of ice time per night, which was usually on the lower end for Islanders defenseman but when you have Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Nick Leddy, and Johnny Boychuk to lean on you don’t have to put a rookie like Toews in a bigger role just yet.
Devon Toews absolutely looked like he belonged and by years end he was quarterbacking the power play and was arguably the Islanders most productive defenseman in the playoffs. In eight playoff games, Toews had five points (1 goal, 4 assists).
Yes, there were some times where Toews was out of position defensively and his game wasn’t perfect but looking at the entire sample size that we saw in 2018-2019 all signs point to Toews being a top-four defender, and a pretty good one at that.
A full season of Devon Toews and a year of growth is something I’m looking most forward to next year. He should have a bigger role, in terms of minutes, while the quarterbacking of the power play will continue.
The emergence of Toews also makes a player like Nick Leddy expendable. If Toews struggled last year when he came up, the Islanders would be apprehensive to move on from Leddy but now they can afford to do that in order to improve the team in other areas (hello top-six winger).
Devon will already be 25 next year, so it shouldn’t be a slow growth for him. He seems like a candidate who could push in the high 30’s in points and come close to double-digit goals next year which is exactly what every d-core needs.