It’s been quiet in the NHL world, so let’s take a look at the New York Islanders upcoming season and make five predictions.
If I have to spend another day talking about the reverse retros, I’m not going to make it. If I never hear “reverse retro” again it’ll be too soon. Since there isn’t a lot going on with the Islanders right now I’ll play the prediction game.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of unknowns heading into the 2021 season because we’re unsure when the season will start, how many games there will be, etc. With keeping this in mind I wanted to go over five of my predictions for 2021.
*Subject to change and not be held accountable to these because I used “way too early” in the headline to imply that I know it’s too damn early to do these predictions.*
1 Anders Lee plays at a 30 goal pace
2019-2020 wasn’t too kind to the Islanders captain. He had just 20 goals in 68 games (a pace of 24 goals). It’s not awful, but the Isles need him to be closer to that 30 goal mark and I think he plays at least a 30 gal pace this season.
In all situations, Lee shot at just 10.3 percent which is 3.5 percent lower than his career average. He generated 195 shots, and if he converted on 13.8 percent (his average) of those he would’ve had 27 goals on the year, a pace of 33 over a full season.
Expect his shooting percentage to be up around 13 on the season, and if he’s finding the back of the net more in 2021, that should help the Isles mitigate some of their offensive issues.
2 Semyon Varlamov finishes with a .920+ save percentage
In his first year with the Islanders, Varlamov finished with a .914 save percentage. But that doesn’t tell the entire story. When the entire team was healthy, through the first three months of the year, Varlamov had a .920 save percentage.
In the playoffs, again when the Isles were mostly healthy, he had a .921 save percentage. With everyone healthy and Ilya Sorokin breathing down his neck for playing time, a motivated Semyon Varlamov is going to be very good for this team.
3 Nick Leddy puts up 35 point pace
Nick Leddy in his first four years on the team averaged 41 points a season and had double-digit goals three times. The last two years, he’s had 26 points and 21 points. Yes, the offensive side hasn’t been the same but that should change this year.
Without Devon Toews on the roster, the Isles are going to have to rely on him to take over on the power play. With more power play time and more ice time in general, his points total should rise.
Plus, Leddy isn’t as old and washed as you think. He’s still just 29 years, even though it feels like he’s been around forever. I’m very much so buying the Nick Leddy stock right now.
4 Islanders finish with 101 point season pace
With no idea how many games they are going to play, what the schedule will look like, or what the divisions will look like it’s hard to get into specifics. The Islanders finished with a 96 point pace last year and 103 points the year prior.
I think they fall somewhere in between that pace in the likely shortened 2021 season. This is still a very similar roster to what it was over the past two years, even without Devon Toews.
5 Oliver Wahlstrom is in the top-six by years end
I’m a big Oliver Wahlstrom guy, I think he’s going to be very good at the next level. Although this is the one I’m least confident in because of the Islanders’ inability to trust young players. Looking at the forward situation, both Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows have a good shot at the roster.
Initially, I think the third line will be Dal Colle/Komarov – Pageau – Wahlstrom with Wahlstrom eventually playing himself onto Line 2. I’d love to say that I can see him going up to the Barzal line but that’s a little too rich for my blood.
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Instead, I’ll settle for a Beauvillier – Nelson – Wahlstrom line which could also be a ton of fun to watch. If these five things happen, the Islanders should be in great shape in 2021.