What three New York Islanders players currently on the roster are likely to have better seasons in 2020-21 than they did last year?
The New York Islanders are going ice the same roster they had in 2019-20 for the 2020-21 season. Sure, Ilya Sorokin will factor heavily and Noah Dobson will be given a more important role, and maybe, just maybe, they bring in a forward prospect on line three.
The rest of the 2020-21 roster, so 87% of the 23 man squad will be the same as it was in 2019-20. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Islanders did make the Eastern Conference Finals this year. But this team had some issues. Namely, that issue is scoring goals. And they’ll have to rely on those same players in 2020-21 to turn things around.
Here are a few players who will find the back of the net more frequently for the Islanders in 2020-21 than they did this season.
The Isles captain in goal-scorer in chief. Or at least he should be. The former 40 goal scorer needs to consistently hit the back of the net 25-30 a season, at least to justify that $7 million price tag.
With 20 goals in 68 games last season, Anders Lee wasn’t on pace to hit that 25-30 goal mark. That has to change in 2020-21. And it likely will.
Lee’s 7.14 shooting percentage on the power play is such an insane outlier that it’s certainly going to change next season. Lee has never shot below 15 percent on the power play in a full NHL season. Even two seasons ago, when the Islanders power play was efficient 14.5% of the time, Lee was converting shots to goals at a nearly 17 percent efficiency.
Expect the captain to bury a few more next year on the power play.
Anthony Beauvillier had a great 2019-20 season with 39 points in 68 games. It’s crazy to think he just turned 23 years old this June.
I know a 40 point player may not scream ‘great season’, but for Beauvillier his issue was always giving a more consistent effort from the start of the season till the end. This year, Beau was one of the Islanders most consistent forwards both on and off the puck. That work was rewarded on the stat sheet.
This last season Beauvilier put up 18 goals. Over a full 82 game season that puts Beau on pace for 22. One more than that career-high 21 goal return in his 2017-18 sophomore year. But with that being said, Beau also converted at a neer career-low at 5on5 this season (10.68%).
We’ve seen Beauvillier convert at 15 and 13 percent clips over the previous two seasons, respectively. It’s easy to think he could return to that form in 2020-21 as he grows into his role as a top-six forward.
With Devon Toews traded to Colorado, Nick Leddy will step back up in the Islanders defensive depth charts. Leddy’s ice-time may never return to the levels they were at when he was the top blueliner on the team, but his TOI will certainly surge up this season.
Specifically on the power play where he averaged 1:13 of power-play time per game. That’s down from the 2:54 in 2018-19 and the 3:18 in 2017-18. And while Leddy doesn’t score many goals he certainly helps create a lot.
Over the last five seasons – excluding 2019-20 – Leddy has averaged 14 points on the power play (two goals and 12 helpers). He had four power-play points last season, a goal and three assists.
One of the forwards he shared the ice with the most on the power play was Anders Lee (33:19 TOI With). Only Derick Brassard shared the ice more with Leddy on the man advantage (37:49 TOI With).
But it’s when Lee on the ice with him that Leddy put up some of his better underlying numbers like shots, individual scoring chances-for, and individual expected goals.
If Lee has that bounce back year on the power play I expect him to, Nick Leddy is going to be a key player in helping him do so.