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Islanders Top Line Isn’t As Bad As You Think

TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 26: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders is congratulated by his teammates, Mathew Barzal #13 and Jordan Eberle #7 after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 26, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 26: Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders is congratulated by his teammates, Mathew Barzal #13 and Jordan Eberle #7 after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 26, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders top line isn’t as bad as what most people think it is. Here’s how they compare to some other lines in the league.

The top line isn’t the Islanders strength. By no means am I saying that this top line is elite by any stretch of the imagination but I actually think that it’s better than most people give it credit for heading into 2020-2021.

The Isles first line consists of Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, and Jordan Eberle. In 2019-2020 they played 528:55 of ice time together. In that time, they were the most efficient line for the Islanders, despite being streaky.

Comparatively, how does the line look when taking a gander at some of the other best top lines in the league? These numbers are found from Natural Stat Trick:

NHL-Lines
NHL-Lines

I’m looking at three other projected top lines that are expected to be some of the best in 2021, and this is how they faired for the 2019-2020 season. The Lee – Barzal – Eberle line trails the Bruins and Lightning’s top line, while has a slight advantage over Toronto in CF%.

The Islanders aren’t a great Corsi team so to see them trail in CF% and SF% isn’t too surprising. In xGF%, the Islanders are at the bottom but they’re not too far off the pace of Toronto, which has 47 goal scorer on the line.

What’s interesting is HDCF%, the Islanders trail only the Lightning in creating high danger chances. So what does that mean?

Well, to me the numbers imply that they were getting their chances, they just didn’t execute. With Anders Lee shooting at just 10.3 percent, the lowest since 2015-2016, the chances of him finding the net a few more times in 2021 seems pretty likely.

I’m not saying he’s going to be a 40 goal scorer again, but would it surprise anyone to see his shooting percentage go up to 12-15 percent with a 30 goal pace to his name? It wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Even with Eberle’s up and down season, he was still on a 23 goal pace over a full season. If Lee and Eberle give you 50-55 points with Barzal giving you 70+ I think you can get by with that.

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Will it be the most dynamic top line in the sport? No, but I also don’t think it would be this anemic line that is an anchor to the team. Can’t we just say the line is okay, which seems about spot on for this unit?

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