Islanders: Best Player To Wear Number 23
Continuing our best of series, today we will look at the best player to wear number 23 for the New York Islanders in their history.
Today, we look at another legendary number in New York Islanders history. The number 23 has been worn by five different players over the Isles history. Garry Howatt, Rick Green, Randy Hillier, and Vladimir Malakhov makes up our list of players outside of our winner of course.
Our honorable mention today will be Vladimir Malakhov, who wore the number for two years in the early 90s before switching to 92. In his first year in the league, Malakhov finished fifth in terms of Calder voting.
In 64 games, the defenseman put up 52 points (14 goals, 38 assists). He would follow that up with a 57 point season and then the Isles dealt him away the following year (after playing 26 games as number 92).
That brings us to our winner, Bob Nystrom. The Isles nabbed Nystrom in the third round of the 1972 draft and he made his NHL debut that same season playing in 11 games. The following year is when he became a regular in the lineup as he had 41 points (21 goals, 20 assists).
His best season for the Isles came in 1978 when he had 59 points and 30 goals, both of which were career highs for him. His production began to drop after three out of four years with 50 points or more but he was still an important piece to the Isles dynasty run.
In 1980, Nystrom scored the biggest goal in Islanders’ history handing the team their first Stanley Cup Championship.
In that 1980 playoffs especially, Nystrom was fantastic. He had 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists) in 20 games as the Isles hoisted their first cup. He would. remain with the Islanders through the 1985-1986 season but he called it a career after just 50 games over his last two years.
In 900 career games, he finished with 513 points (235 goals, 278 assists) and four Stanley Cup rings on his finger. That was enough for Nystrom to have his number 23 raised to the rafters as he is remembered as “Mr. Islander”
Nystrom, despite being born in Sweden, has been able to embody Long Island as nobody else could. The number 23 and Bob Nystrom are synonymous for the New York Islanders.