The New York Islanders may be an old team in the NHL, but their young players will play a prominent role on the team in the 2020-21 season.
Going into the 2020 playoffs, the New York Islanders were the oldest of the 24 participating teams with an average age of 28.9 years. The youngest team were the Chicago Blackhawks at 25.6 years of age.
The Islanders can rely on their veteran core to push them forward, but a veteran core means pricey contracts. And pricey contracts in a flat cap world means that the Islanders will need to find value from their youth players.
With gaps in the lineup, those youngsters will be asked to step up and play an important role for the team.
We forget that Anthony Beauvillier just turned 23 in June. Beau had a great season in 2019-20 with 39 points in 68 games he was on pace for 47 points over a full season. He became a consistent force for the Islanders in the regular season and was even better in the playoffs with 14 points in 22 games.
He could likely start the year next to Brock Nelson on the second line but he could, and arguably should start the season on the top line next to Mathew Barzal. About to start his fourth season in the NHL, there’s no doubt that Beau will be one of the top players for the Islanders in 20-21.
Just like Beauvillier, Barzal also just recently turned 23-year-old (in May). Barzal may have only scored 60 points this year, but over a full 82 game season, that’s a 72 point return. In year four of his NHL career, expect Mathew Barzal to take another step forward.
With the need for some middle-six offense, specifically on the right side, Oliver Wahlstrom could and should step into the team once the season begins. His $894,167 cap hit would be great for the cap tight Islanders. The Isles could send Andrew Ladd to the minors, bring up Wahlstrom, and still save $180,833 on the cap.
Josh Ho-Sang could very well factor into that spot depending on how training camp goes at the start of the year. His $700,000 cap hit brings about even more savings compared to what Wahlstrom could bring.
Noah Dobson just turned 20 in January. After 34 games in 2019-20, the PEI native is going to be given a starting role for the Islanders in 2020-21. It won’t be in the Isles top-four but he will get time to grow on the ice rather than from the press box.
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Dobson will start the year on the third pair, but strong performances could mean he moves up the team’s defensive depth chart by the end of the year. We saw what strong performances did for Devon Toews when he stepped into the lineup.