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Islanders: The Goalposts For Michael Dal Colle

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 24: Michael Dal Colle #28 of the New York Islanders skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 24, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 24: Michael Dal Colle #28 of the New York Islanders skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 24, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Moving the goalposts is one of my favorite metaphors in the English language. Not only because it’s a sports reference but because it’s so applicable to everyday life. Actually, there’s a perfect example of the goalposts moving with the Islanders right now.

The goalposts for forward, Michael Dal Colle have moved constantly. He was a former top-5 pick seven years ago so it went from, expectations of him being the next winger prospect to get a chance to play with John Tavares to where we are now when Isles Twitter is waxing poetically about him making a pass to Cal Clutterbuck.

Michael Dal Colle will never live up to the top-five pick status, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective NHL player. I just question how some define quality play. The overall consensus is that Dal Colle has been good this year, and I just don’t think I’m there.

Sure, Dal Colle’s underlying numbers are actually pretty solid, I’ll give him that. Dal Colle is sixth on the team in CF%, 5th in SF%, 10th in GF%, and 12th in HDCF% for the Islanders this year according to Natural Stat Trick.

Putting aside any bias you may have, there’s no denying that it’s a massive step in the right direction. Still, the production is still not remotely close to being there.

The thought of Michael Dal Colle being the net-front presence guy if Anders Lee has to miss time is a scary thought. As Butch Goring continuously says on the broadcast, he’s not strong enough on his stick for me to have any kind of faith in him in a top-six role.

Here’s an example from last night:

Coming in on a 3-on-2 rush Oliver Wahlstrom throws the puck from right to left trying to catch the defense off guard. It’s a great chance for a quick shot on goal as the goalie is moving across his body. But Michael Dal Colle couldn’t handle it. It went off his stick.

Another example, Dal Colle is down low (in a net-front area) and Mayfield throws a perfect pass in a great spot for a deflection. Nothing, his poor strength down low takes him out of the play because he didn’t box out the Sabres defender.

Michael Dal Colle has four shots on goal in 15 games this year, and both of his points came in the same game. He had two assists against Pittsburgh on February 6 and hasn’t registered a point in his last 12 games.

It’s not like his ice time is atrocious. In those 12 games, he’s averaged 11:29 per night. For comparison, Wahlstrom is averaging 11:13 of ice time per game and has 38 shots on goal in 20 games.

If there’s anyone in the bottom six who deserves a shot up top it’s Wahlstrom, not Michael Dal Colle.

I get it, not everyone is going to be an offensive guy. But getting back to that goal post thing from earlier, if you were in a coma for the last three years and you woke up to read Isles Twitter last night talking about Michael Dal Colle you’d probably figure he’d be a little more productive than two assists and four shots on goal  in 15 games based on some of the stuff that was being said about him.

He’s been okay, and frankly okay has been better than the below-average we’ve seen in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. If there’s an alternate universe where the Islanders fourth line doesn’t exist and Michael Dal Colle is the fourth line LW getting 10 minutes a night for $700,000 okay, I can live with it.

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But on a line with JG Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom or God forbid a top-six role if Anders Lee is out, I think I’ll respectfully decline. It’s okay to move the goalposts, just be wary of how far you’re willing to move them.

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