Islanders: Could Michael Dal Colle surprise in 2020-21?

New York Islanders Michael Dal Colle (28) (Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders Michael Dal Colle (28) (Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports) /

Can Michael Dal Colle surprise in his third season with the New York Islanders?

Michael Dal Colle has been with the New York Islanders since 2014 when they drafted him fifth overall. Since that draft some six years ago, Dal Colle hasn’t lived up to his top-five billing. Since making the jump to the NHL in the 2018-19 season he’s played 81 games and scored 17 points.

It’s been a tough start for Dal Colle who had such an incredible junior career. There was a good reason Dal Colle was selected fifth overall. With 143 points in 130 games, Dal Colle seemed like he could be a top-end forward at the NHL level. Some believed he could the next Patrick Marleau.

Can Dal Colle turn things around in 2020-21?

Just Needs Time?

In the AHL, Dal Colle needed a few years to get going. His first year was fine with 41 points in 75 games. It still wasn’t great for a top-five pick but it was good enough. Year two saw Dal Colle struggle with the extra responsibilities and attention. He slipped to 24 points in 60 games.

Year three (2018-19) with the Sound Tigers was going to be important for Dal Colle. Take another step back and the Islanders might have to make a tough decision. His ELC was up at the end of the season. Dal Colle shinned.

In 34 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (between call-ups to the NHL), Dal Colle scored 34 points. Finally, Dal Colle was hitting his stride at the professional level.

Now, can that arch apply to the NHL as well?. An OK year, followed by a down year, and then a big year during a contract season.

In 2020-21, Dal Colle is coming to the end of a two-year bridge deal worth $1.4 million. This will also be his third year in the NHL.

His first year (2018-19) was fine with seven points in 28 games. Over a full 82 game season that has Dal Colle on pace for 21 points. Again, not great, but fine for a rookie playing on average 12 minutes a night on a third line for a defense-heavy team.

Year two (2019-20) was a down year with ten points in 53 games. That pace would have had him return 16 points over a full 82 game year.

Now, year three (2020-21), Michael Dal Colle is facing a ton of competition for a spot at the NHL level. He’ll be competing against other wingers hungry to get a shot at the NHL. Guys like Josh Ho-Sang, Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, and Otto Koivula could all be in direct competition with Dal Colle. If he didn’t feel the pressure before he’s going to feel it now.

The circumstances line up with those in Dal Colle’s first three years at the AHL level. A surprising season could be on the cards.

Just to be clear, when I say “surprising season” I don’t mean he could score a point-per-game. What I mean is that Dal Colle could surprise us all and buck the trajectory his career is taking by putting up 30 points for the Islanders.

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Michael Dal Colle has been at best a replacement-level player at the NHL level. He’s been fine. Fine isn’t living up to his status as a fifth overall pick, but with his selection by the Islanders having been made six years ago I think we need to kind of forget that. Or at least drop it.

I have no insight that this will happen. There’s no underlying number that shows Dal Colle is on the cusp of a 30+ point season. This is more of hopeful optimism. I really want things to work out for Dal Colle.