Over the past ten years of NHL hockey, only a single player for the New York Islanders made it to ESPN’s top 100. Which sums up the decade pretty well.
Of the 125 skaters and 17 goalies who’ve worn a New York Islanders jersey over the last decade only one made ESPN’s top 100 players of the decade list. You don’t have to read the list to know that player is John Tavares (he ranked 29th on the list).
We can argue that Mathew Barzal could probably make the list. But with a sub-par year on the stats sheet in 2018-19, I can see why ESPN didn’t add him.
Outside of the fringe argument for having Barzal in the list, there isn’t anything, from an Islanders point of view, wrong with the list. For lack of a better term, is that the list is accurate (for the Isles). Over the last decade, the Islanders didn’t have an impactful player, outside of Tavares, and that was an issue.
Needed A Winger
I can’t remember a time the Islanders weren’t in need of a top tier winger to play with Tavares. Just one would have been sufficient. Instead, Tavares played with a number of good options. Not great ones.
Over his career with the Islanders, Tavares played over 3,000 5on5 minutes with Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, and Josh Bailey. All are good players. None of them are great. None of them are what you would classify as ‘star players’.
The single greatest failure for the Islanders over the last decade was being unable to surround Tavares with top tier talent. Whether that was due to poor optics around the franchise or from inept management.
It’s fun to look back at the list of players that made the list. Including Thomas Vanek, who played some of his best hockey alongside Tavares. Too bad he hated the idea of commuting to Brooklyn so much. He probably could have been that winger for the Isles.