As we turn the page to another season, the New York Islanders do not have much cap space available for free agents and they may have to promote from within.
The New York Islanders have roster decisions to make going into next season. Matt Martin, Andy Greene, Derick Brassard, Tom Kuhnhackl and Thomas Greiss are all unrestricted free agents. While, Mathew Barzal, Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock are restricted free agents. To make matters worse, the Islanders do not have an ample amount of cap space to work with.
If we take all these facts into consideration, this might be the perfect scenario for the Islanders to give their younger players a chance and for them to earn a roster spot for the 2020-2021 season.
Bellows and Wahlstrom
When Kieffer Bellows got called up to the Islanders in early February of the 2019-2020 season, he got off to a hot start.
In his first NHL game he had an assist and in his second game he scored two goals against the Kings, which led to the Isles faithful chanting his name and giving him an ovation:
That was about as big as an impact that bellows had the rest of the way. He played six more NHL games, where he did not register a point and was sent back down to Bridgeport.
With two seasons in Bridgeport under his belt and a handful of games with the Islanders, Bellows now should have the opportunity to show why the Islanders drafted him 19th overall in 2016.
He is known for his great shot and his shoot first mentality. The youngster had 22 goals in 52 games last season with the Sound Tigers. As we witnessed during the playoffs, the Islanders need more players that shoot first and the powerplay could use someone in the high slot that will put the puck towards the net when they get the puck.
Bellows can definitely be the “sniper” the Islanders are looking for.
On the other hand, Oliver Wahlstrom is more of a long shot of making the Islanders roster, but with new season potentially coming in a little bit more than two months, compiled with some injuries (ie: Casey Cizikas) and Isles parting ways with potential free agents, this could be the perfect storm for Wahlstrom to take a roster spot.
The 11th overall pick in the 2018 draft, was left off the Islanders post season roster and was subsequently loaned to AIK, in the Swedish Second division.
Wahlstrom made his debut with the Isles on Columbus day, but after nine games failed to record a point and spent the rest of the season in Bridgeport.
Wahlstrom has the size and hockey sense that fits perfect for any hockey team. Even when he does not score on a shift, he is one of those players that can shift the momentum of a game in the Islanders favor.
Noah Dobson is an interesting case because he is the only player on this list that spent a full season with the Islanders and has amassed 34 games with the Blue and Orange.
The twenty year old defensemen even made his NHL playoff debut in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals and held his own.
With Pelech needing surgery, Greene potentially heading for free agency and Boychuk having injury problems, Dobson can see a major increase in his role and ice time for the upcoming season.
With the potential increase in ice time and a full season already under his belt, Dobson should have the opportunity to take control of games and can prove himself as one of the best young defensemen in the game.
With all signs indicating that the Islanders will not renew Greiss’ contract, it looks like Semyon Varlamov and Illya Sorokin will be the Islanders goaltending tandem for the upcoming season.
Even though, Sorokin did not have a similar path to the NHL as others in this list, this season is now his chance to prove he will be the goaltender of the future for the Islanders. I have never seen Islanders fans been this excited to see a player make his debut, since John Tavares was selected first overall back in 2009.
It is great to know that Sorokin will be able to learn and grown from playing with a veteran, and fellow countryman, in Varlamov.
It is for certain the Barry Trotz and the Islanders coaching staff will give Sorokin a great chance to show his abilities and be a major key to the Islanders this upcoming season.
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It looks like roster spots will be for the taking and one or all of these young guns can have an instant impact on the Islanders and solidify themselves as NHLers.