What will the New York Islanders 2020-2021 lineup look like? I do my best to predict a year from now and who exits and who stays.
Growing up I always hated the question “So what’s your plan now?” Whether it was something as simple as okay, we just finished dinner now what or so you graduated college what are you going to life, I’m a go with the flow kind of guy. Well, not anymore because I’m going to try to predict the future. The New York Islanders future.
“Matt, why would you try such a daunting task?”, you might ask. When you write about a team every single day your mind wanders, and today my mind went to what the team might look like in a year from now so I’m going to do my best to guess it.
I’m very much aware that things could change at the drop of a hat but with the information that we have available to us as of today, this is my way too early prediction for what the Islanders lineup is going to look like in 2020-2021:
Beauvillier – Barzal – Eberle
Lee – Nelson – Wahlstrom
Dal Colle – Koivula – Bailey
Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
Pelech – Pulock
Toews – Dobson
Leddy – Mayfield
Extras: Komarov, Fritz, Hickey
How We Got Here
The top line next year will be the same as it is this year in my opinion. Barzal and Eberle should be a mainstay for years to come and Beauvillier, hopefully, figures it out to the point where he can be penciled in for 20-25 goals every year.
On line two, Nelson and Lee make the most sense to keep paired together. Lee is hopefully giving you 30 goals this year and the expectation will be the same for him in 2020. Nelson is trying to build off this past year and prove that he is a 50 point player. He absolutely should continue to be in his next deal.
The addition of Oliver Wahlstrom shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’m betting that he has a bounce-back year in the AHL and pushes for a roster spot even at some point in 2019-2020. If he proves that he’s a prolific scorer, playing with Lee and Nelson should provide a very solid scoring unit on the second line.
With the addition of Wahlstrom, Bailey will move down to the third line. Having someone who can drop 50-60 points in a season on line three is tremendous. I’m operating under the assumption that Derick Brassard is one and done with the Isles.
I wouldn’t want to lock him up again if he gives you something similar to Val Filppula. If Koivula gives you another season 20+ goals and 40+ points in the AHL he should slot in just fine on that third line. Dal Colle is Dal Colle at this point. He will likely be someone that gives you about 30-35 points on the third line, and I guess we’ll have to live with that.
The Islanders love MDC, I’m almost certain he’ll be on the roster next year. The fourth line remains the same, the Islanders decide to ink Matt Martin to a team-friendly deal so that he can stay on the Island with Casey and Cal.
You might notice Komarv is scratched. While I’d prefer a first-class ticket to the sun for Leo Komarov, the scratchpad will have to do. He’s simply not as talented as anyone else in the lineup. He will also be 34 in 2020-2021, I can’t imagine him being very good.
There’s also no Josh Ho-Sang or Andrew Ladd. For Ladd, I think you’ll have to attach a pick and a player like Josh Ho-Sang to move him. Ladd carries a $5.5 million cap hit but his salary is only $4 million after this year.
If the Isles waited until after July 1, pay him his signing bonus, and then move him it would only cost a team $1 million in actual money for that first year. For a team looking to meet the cap floor, it could come in handy. So maybe you add Ladd and JHS in a deal for a pick swap.
I love Josh Ho-Sang, I’m just not 100 percent sure the Islanders do. If I’m a betting man, I’d put money on him not being here next year.
That brings us to the defense. Pelech and Pulock will be the top pair this year and I don’t expect that to change. Devon Toews gets a new partner, Noah Dobson. I’m going to leave him off the NHL roster for 2019-2020 but he makes his debut with an established top-four defenseman at this point next year.
Nick Leddy doesn’t get traded, but his partner does. Boychuk carries a $6 million cap hit but his salary drops to $4 million next year. You do the same thing with Boychuk that you do with Ladd. You pay him his signing bonus, and then move him so he is only costing a team $1.25 million that year.
Mayfield is a solid d-man and Leddy will just have to prove that he can play with a defenseman not named Johnny Boychuk. On the third pair, the Isles don’t need Leddy to be the top guy he was when he first arrived. Due to a numbers game, Hickey is the seventh defenseman which is completely fine.
As for the two netminders, I’m assuming the Isles let Thomas Greiss walk. He was a very good Islander, but it’s time to move on to the Ilya Sorokin era. Yes, Lou Lamoriello gets the Russian to come over and play with his other favorite Russian, Semyon Varlamov.
And that is the 2020-2021 New York Islanders roster. That was a lot. Yes, there’s no Bode Wilde or Kieffer Bellows but not every single prospect is going to a) pan out or b) make it all the way up with the team that drafted him so you can pick which category they fall into. I’m not in love with the roster but it has the potential to be playoff material.
What do you have the Islanders lineup looking like next year? Get at me on Twitter @MattOLearyNY and tell me how wrong I am.