According to the NHL Network, the New York Islanders are the sixth-best team in the Metropolitan Division. Even factoring in a regression, this is extreme.
Last year, the New York Islanders were a team that got no respect. They finished with 103 points and the storyline all year from the experts was how they had no business being there rather than talking about how resilient they were after losing their captain.
The Isles took that “us against the world” mentality into the second round of the playoffs, and with a very similar team heading into this year with they have the exact same problem as last year.
The media again is sleeping on them. If you read my stuff you might be confused, because I’ve said this team has gotten slightly worse than it was last year. What I mean is instead of building on last year’s success they took a lateral step or a slight step back in year two, on paper, of Lamoriello and Trotz.
NHL Network released a power ranking for the Metropolitan Division and where the Isles sit is just flat out embarrassing. They are the sixth team behind Washington, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Philadelphia, and Columbus.
Starting at the top, Washington and Pittsburgh make sense where they are. They’re the old guard and they’ve done it forever. Once they prove they aren’t what they once were you can pick someone else but for now, this is a fair assumption.
Carolina in third I disagree with but it isn’t an outlandish take. The next two teams are the headscratchers.
The Flyers finished with 82 points last year. They added Alain Vigneault behind the bench and overpaid for Kevin Hayes to come play second-line center. I’m not sure this is a team that’s going to finish much higher than the 85-90 point range, which isn’t enough points for fourth place.
Then, there’s Columbus who lost Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Ryan Dzingel. This team isn’t going to be good. They’re starting a rebuilding process and the absolute best case scenario is they finish with 80 points.
Then comes the Islanders, in sixth. Do the wheels completely fall off with one of the best coaches in the game and a near-identical roster? No.
Now, that’s not to say I don’t think they regress from their 103 points, but I don’t think it’s enough to drop to sixth in the division. On September 7, 2019, I have the Islanders as a 97 point team that finishes third in the Metro with a chance to advance to the second round but not any further.
They are not a Stanley Cup contender, but they are also not a lottery team. They’re somewhere in between.