Today, we’re going to take a look at the Islanders’ third line options and rank them by likelihood from the Islanders’ perspective.
It appears like the Islanders have 11 out of their 12 forward spots locked in. The top line will be Lee – Barzal – Eberle, line two will be Beauvillier – Nelson – Bailey, and line four will be Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck.
As for line three, Brassard and Pageau are also givens, the only thing that remains is one wing spot and there are a bunch of different candidates who can fill the role.
Today, I’m going to go through who I think the most likely candidates are from the Islanders’ perspective.
1 Tom Kuhnhackl
Yes, Kuhnhackl only played 28 games during the regular season but you can toss that out the window. Last year, he played in 36 games and then played every single playoff game and I think we see a similar trend this year.
Kuhnhackl has 55 career playoff games under his belt, and while his offensive ceiling is pretty low, he’s not going to do anything drastic to move the needle backward for the Islanders. He’s a safe pick. Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello love safe things.
2 Ross Johnston
Ross Johnston and Matt Martin are essentially the spider man meme where they point at each other. They’re too similar to play in the same lineup, in my opinion, but Trotz has loved what he’s seen out of Johnston so far in Training Camp.
In practice yesterday, Johnston was rotating in with Kuhnhackl and earlier he even got some second-line minutes. I’d put those two as the front runners for now.
3 Andrew Ladd
This is the lightning in a bottle pick. Ladd has only played 30 games over the last two years but if he’s remotely healthy there’s a chance, mind you very slim, that he could be a depth scorer that would work well with the likes of Brassard and Pageau.
He’s a vet that’s been there, as he has 64 career playoff games under his belt and two Stanley Cup rings to his name. I wouldn’t necessarily put my eggs in the Andrew Ladd basket but I wouldn’t be stunned if he got a look.
4 Kieffer Bellows
Offensive upside! Bellows has two goals and an assist in eight games with the Islanders this year. He’s inexperienced but without a doubt provides the biggest upside offensively, which is something the Islanders could use.
I wouldn’t bet on him making the lineup though, even though he would probably be my choice if I was making the call.
5 Leo Komarov
I’d assume that if you took 70 stitches to the face that your season would be over, which is why I’m ranking him so low. But, he’s supposed to make the trip and the Islanders, for some reason, love themselves some Leo Komarov.
There’s a chance, albeit rather slim, that we see a full face masked Leo Komarov in the lineup.
6 Michael Dal Colle
Dal Colle played 53 games this year, mostly on the third line, but I get the feeling the Islanders aren’t going to use him in the playoffs. He had just 10 points (a pace of 15 over an 82 game season) and doesn’t play on the penalty kill.
As scary as it is, Tom Kuhnhackl, Leo Komarov, and Andrew Ladd all give you more than Michael Dal Colle.
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7 Otto Koivula
Koivula played in 12 games this year, playing double-digit minutes just twice. While I think down the line he can be a bottom-six player for this team, the playoffs isn’t necessarily a time to experiment with that idea.