The final hours of 2020 are approaching (thank God). Let’s make some bold predictions for the 2021 Islanders season.
2020 saw the Islanders in the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1993. For that reason, and that reason alone, 2020 was good (from the Isles perspective). Outside of our little bubble here as fans, 2020 was pretty crappy.
So instead of harping on the year that was, let’s look to the future. 2021 is looking bright for a lot of reasons and it can represent a new beginning in a lot of ways.
So what I wanted to do today was give you my three bold predictions for 2020. Here we go:
1. Mathew Barzal Is A Point Per Game Player
In Barzal’s rookie campaign he put up 85 points but has dropped down to 62 and 60 the following two seasons. Through the first 38 games of last year, when everyone was healthy, Barzal had 34 points.
He was nearly at a point per game pace but fell off when the team began to struggle down the stretch. With a healthy roster and a sprint of a season, I think he gets off to a hot start and doesn’t look back.
Give me 56 points in 56 games for Mat Barzal. Yes, that also means that as a result Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle (Barzal’s linemates) have a bounce-back year in 2021.
2. Ilya Sorokin Is The Starter By Years End
Heading into the season, I think it’s Semyon Varlamov’s crease but for how long will he be able to hold off the Russian phenom Ilya Sorokin? I think they both put up solid numbers this year but down the stretch, Sorokin will get the nod in playing time.
Yes, that also means that I think 2021 is the last year Varly is on the roster as he will be selected by Seattle in the expansion draft as well. How about that for a two-in-one prediction.
Sorokin finishes the year with a .921 save percentage and a 2.47 goals against average and he is the “starter” heading into the 2021-2022 season.
3. The Islanders Win The Division
The Eastern Division, made up of Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, the Islanders, Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington is likely going to be a tight race. While the Bruins are likely the favorite, they’ve really taken a hit in free agency this year.
They lost Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara and haven’t really replaced them. Buffalo and New Jersey aren’t quite ready yet, the Rangers are close but might be another year away, Pittsburgh and Washington are getting older and the Islanders waxed the floor of the Flyers in the playoffs.
The Islanders do have as good of a chance as any team in the East to win the division, no matter what the projections say, and if they finish outside the top four it would be considered a massive disappointment.
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