Islanders: Three forward lineups for Barry Trotz to try

Head coach Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Head coach Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
3 of 3
Next
New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz (Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz (Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /

After the latest loss, the New York Islanders will be making a change to their forward group. We don’t know how the Isles will lineup, but here are a few ideas for them.

Barry Trotz says he’s going to make changes to his lineup after the New York Islanders most recent loss. With only the top line giving the Islanders something you’d expect Trotz to tinker with his bottom three lines for Thursday’s game.

Here are a few ideas for Trotz to use in the Isles next game against the Caps. They range from: “hopeful but unlikely” to “some sort of hybrid”, and finally “the likely outcome”.

First: Hopeful But Unlikely

Lee-Barzal-Eberle
Bailey-Nelson-Wahlstrom
Bellows-Pageau-Timashov
Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck

Having three players off the taxi squad in Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows and Dmytro Timashov doesn’t sound like something Barry Trotz would do. But it’s exactly what Trotz should do.

For the bottom six, Trotz has run through Michael Dal Colle, Ross Johnston, and Leo Komarov so far this season and it hasn’t worked. Like at all.

The Islanders roster needs a bit more pop offensively, they’ve needed that for years now. Flipping through Dal Colle, Johnston and Komarov is not what you would call “adding ‘pop’ offensively”. The three have combined for 65 points over 268 games in the last three seasons (62% of that production comes from Leo).

That’s a 0.24 points per game. Combined.

Bellows has shown he can play in the Islanders system, even if that’s only for ten to eleven minutes a night. The first-round pick in 2016 can add offense but also play a decent enough defensive game.

Timashov brings a bit of skill as a slightly above average replacement-level player. He’s not Ross Johnston, but the Islanders already have Matt Martin in the lineup so Johnston’s services shouldn’t be required.

The final piece is Oliver Wahlstrom in a top-six role alongside Nelson and Bailey. The right-handed “world-class shot” should be put in a position where he can use his God-given talents surrounded by vets who will guide him.

Chances Barry opts for this lineup: 1/10

Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Oliver Wahlstrom #26 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Second: Some Sort of Hybrid

Trotz isn’t about to let three rookies play. We know this much about Trotz. Rookies need to be brought up slowly in order to build their confidence. The Stanley Cup-winning coach doesn’t like mistakes on the ice and rookies make mistakes.

So how about a bit of both? Something the fanbase and coaching staff can meet eye-to-eye on, perhaps?

Lee-Barzal-Eberle
Bellows-Nelson-Bailey
Dal Colle-Pageau-Wahlstrom
Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck

If it feels like Ross Johnston is constantly being singled out it’s because he is. It’s no fault of his own. Johnston plays the game a certain way. Lamoriello knows that, Trotz knows that, Ross knows that, we all know that. With Matt Martin already on the roster, there’s no room for Ross unless Martin sits. And unless Martin is injured, he won’t sit.

In Johnston’s place is Oliver Wahlstrom who gives the team the possibility for some of that offensive pop they’re looking for. Barry can keep him to a defense-first deployment with 50+% of his starts coming in the defensive zone.

Dal Colle returns to provide his stable no non-sense game. Say what you will about Dal Colle, but he’s certainly not going to take a late penalty for driving someone into the boards. Bellows stays on the second line to continue building on what he’s done so far this season.

Win-win, no?

Chances Barry opts for this lineup: 5/10

Detroit Red Wings left wing Dmytro Timashov (Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Red Wings left wing Dmytro Timashov (Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Likely Outcome

Even though Barry is desperate for a change it’s unlikely he deviates from that ‘safe and stable’ philosophy that got him two Jack Adams trophies and a Stanley Cup. Here’s what he’s probably going to go with on Thursday:

Lee-Barzal-Eberle
Bellows-Nelson-Bailey
Dal Colle-Pageau-Timashov
Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck

I’m not convinced that Barry is ready for Wahlstrom yet. The eleventh overall pick isn’t the best defensive player in the Islanders system and could still use some work away from the puck. Even his coach at the Allsvenskan level said as much after Wahlstrom left Sweden to return to the US.

And if we know anything about Trotz (outside of his “rookies need to hold the clipboard” approach) it’s that he likes his players to be totally solid on both sides of the puck.

But at some point, the Islanders have to accept the fact that Wahlstrom is never going to be great defensively and bring him in to help the team score goals. Cause he’s pretty darn good at that.

I just don’t think that time has come yet.

We know that Trotz isn’t only curious to see what Wahlstrom can do in the lineup but he’s also curious to see what others can do in the lineup. Which is why I put Timashov in.

So Trotz brings in Timashov to play on the right and Michael Dal Colle on the left of Jean-Gabriel Pageau. And as with the other lineups, Kieffer Bellows stays on line two until Beauvillier returns. This absolutely seems like a Trotz lineup.

Chances Barry opts for this lineup: 8/10

Next