Continuing our best of series, today we will look at the best player to wear number 55 for the New York Islanders in their history.
After a few days of easy choices or none at all, I had a very difficult time deciding who should be our winner today. Eight players have worn number 55 for the Islanders, starting with Mike Stevens in 1989.
Some other notables are Vladimir Chebaturkin, Delix Potvin, Shane Sims, Matt Campanale, Aaron Ness, and Johnny Boychuk. Of this group, our honorable mention for today will be Johnny Boychuk.
In 2014, on the eve of the 2014-2015 season, the Islanders sent two second-round picks and a conditional third to Boston for Johnny Boychuk. That year, Boychuk was stellar for the Islanders, playing nearly 22 minutes a night and putting up a career-high of 35 points.
His play yielded him a seven-year contract extension with the Islanders where he would remain the top-pairing d-man through the 2017-2018 season with Nick Leddy. His point total has dropped over the years going from 35 to 25, 23, 18, 19, and now 11 in 2019-20 but his role has changed.
He’s now a stay-at-home third pairing d-man and a damn solid one at 36 years old still. His time on ice may be down to just 17:17 a night but he’s still an effective d-man for this team. In 404 games with the Islanders, Boychuk has 131 points (35 goals, 96 assists).
Our winner today is going to be Jason Blake. In 2001, the Islanders flipped a fifth-round pick for Jason Blake and boy did that become a steal. When he was acquired from L.A. he finished the season with 12 points in 30 games with the Isles. The following year, he finished with 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in a full 82 game season.
It took until the 2002-2003 season but Blake blossomed into a very solid scorer. He exploded for 55 points and 25 goals that year. The following year saw a slight step back where he put up 47 points and 22 goals but he finished 21 in Selke voting.
The goals returned after the lockout when Blake put up 28 and 57 points in 76 games with the Islanders. In his final season on Long Island, in 2006-2007, he netted 40 goals for the only time in his career and finished with 69 points.
He put up three points in the Islanders five playoff games against Buffalo that year. In his six-years on Long Island, Blake finished with 258 points in 426 games.
In 2007, Blake was diagnosed with cancer. He was able to complete the 2007-2008 season with Toronto and his perseverance during that year awarded him the Masterton Trophy. Blake went from Undrafted to a 40 goal scorer, to a Masterton Trophy winner in his career. For that, he deserves the honor of the best 55 in Isles history.