With the New York Islanders now well past the peak of free agency and trade season, and the same team mostly intact, I believe fans should start preparing to see more of the same from the roster.
And that’s not a bad thing. The New York Islanders made the playoffs after spending a considerable part of the season in first place, swept the Penguins and made it to the second round.
That’s a good season, and I’m not even talking about a good season for a team that wasn’t expected to be good. By the ‘last man standing’ merit, there were only a handful of teams who had a better season than the Isles.
But there are a few facts that seem to be clear with the new regime, and those cues lead me to believe that this is our opening night roster, in some reasonably similar combination.
The Roster to Expect
Lee – Barzal – Eberle
Beauvillier – Nelson – Bailey
Dal Colle – Fritz – Komarov
Martin – Cizikas – Ladd
Pulock – Pelech
Mayfield – Toews
Boychuk – Leddy
Scratch: Kuhnhackl, Johnston, Hickey (Clutterbuck left out due to surgery rehab)
The Writing on the Wall
There are a few themes that have come through clearly since the Isles became the Lamoriello & Trotz show. Here are my key takeaways so far, and these are why I expect the roster above.
Shaking it up has not been the cornerstone of the franchise since Lou took over. And I think that’s great. It is nice to know that our players are re-signing, that there’s loyalty being shown by the team and that they are looking at building something consistent.
Lou has re-signed most of the free agent forwards from last year’s team (Lee, Nelson, Eberle, Kuhnhackl and really only let Filppula walk) which means they’re here to stay in key roles.
There are few, if any, spots open for young talent to come up. While I would LOVE to see a few of the young prospects like Dobson, Aho, Bellows, Wahlstrom or Koivula get a shot, where would they play?
That’s not to say that we all feel Ladd is more deserving, but his contract certainly is, and that financial reality, unfortunately, carries weight. On the above roster, the only possible spots that seem realistically open to competition are Hickey, Ladd, Martin, Dal Colle, and Fritz, and those players all seem too well-liked or expensive to see out of the lineup.
Steady and reliable players earn time. The clearest example of this? Michael Dal Colle. I feel he played very dependably, but he did not light up the score sheet or create a ton of chances, yet played 28 games for the Isles and was on the playoff roster.
Is this my personal opinion of what the roster would look like if I was in charge of the lines? No, but luckily there are far more experienced hockey execs running the team and their formula has worked so far.
What I’m doing here is just trying to learn from a year of what we’ve seen from this staff and executive team and extrapolate that out into the season, factoring in contracts and playing style, and this is what I believe we’ll see a lot of for at least the first few months of the season.