Islanders Might Have Something With Austin Czarnik
By Matt O'Leary
The Islanders have used a large chunk of the early season trying to figure out their lineup. Excluding the Anthony Beauvillier injury, the lineup is pretty much set except for the two wing spots on line three.
So far, it’s been a revolving door with Ross Johnston, Leo Komarov, Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, Dmytro Timashov, Michael Dal Colle, and Austin Czarnik who have all gotten chances in the Islanders nine games so far.
I’m all for Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows getting their chances, as they should, but I will admit I liked the play of Czarnik who seems like he could be a solid bottom-six option for the Isles going forward.
Last night, he got 14:12 of ice time, 7:36 of it coming at five-on-five, and held his own in his debut with New York. Ironically, he went from taxi squad to getting 5:21 on the power play which is a drastic difference.
For his career he’s not much of a power-play guy, he has just one power-play goal in 110 games at the NHL level. But at five on five, he displayed something that we aren’t used to seeing from the bottom-six, speed.
Seeing JG Pageau play with a winger like Czarnik who could keep up (outside of Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows of course) was a welcomed change. How many times this year have we seen Pageau carrying the puck with no help around him because his linemates couldn’t keep up?
In last night’s contest, Czarnik was on the ice for three scoring chances for and only one against and had a 66.67 CF%. It’s a small sample size with the numbers but the 28-year-old forward passed with the eye test as well.
Check the hustle play on the Islanders power play to deny the Flyers of a scoring chance:
Czarnik hasn’t gotten regular penalty kill time since 2016-2017 with Boston, when he played in 49 games and had 13 points but looks like someone who could handle those duties as the fourth or fifth PK forward.
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Is he a game-changing forward? Absolutely not, but he is a cheaper, and better option than a majority of the bottom-six regulars right now. I’d like to see him continue to get reps on this team, under the condition that Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows get time too.