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Islanders three dark horse playoff MVP candidates

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders skates against the New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum on April 20, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Rangers 6-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - APRIL 20: Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders skates against the New York Rangers at the Nassau Coliseum on April 20, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Rangers 6-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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If the New York Islanders are going to have any sort of success in the playoffs they’re going to need more than strong performances from the likes of Mathew Barzal and Semyon Varlamov.

Yeah, of course, they’ll need those two to be on their games, but as with any team in the playoffs, they’ll need contributions from across the roster to win a championship.

Just look at last year’s playoff run for example. If not for the efforts of Josh Bailey (20 points in 22 games) or Brock Nelson (18 points in 22 games) the Islanders certainly don’t make it as deep as they did.

So, for this year’s run, who could be the dark horse playoff MVP for the Isles?

New York Islanders dark horse playoff MVP candidates

Kyle Palmieri | LW, RW

One of these guys had to be Kyle Palmieri, right? After giving up a first-round pick for him (and Travis Zajac) to the New Jersey Devils, it hasn’t gone according to plan just yet for Palmieri. The veteran winger only has four points in 17 games with the Islanders.

And look, it’s not like Palmieri has played at an MVP level in the playoffs over his career. Over 38 postseason games, he has 15 points to his name.

But Lou knows what he’s doing, when he brings someone in it typically works. It takes a bit, but it works. You’ve got to think the playoffs are where Kyle Palmieri shows us why he was worth a first-round pick

He’s a volume shooter that has been a consistent 20+ goal scorer over his career. Playing in a third-line role where he’ll play low-quality opponents should bring out the best of him and that could be a big win for the Islanders in the playoffs.

Oliver Wahlstrom | RW

The team with the best PP doesn’t always win the Cup, but the team with one of the worst power plays isn’t likely to win it either. The Isles sit 21st in terms of PP% on the year. Only Vegas and Minnesota are both in the playoffs and worse on the man advantage.

It’s not all bad for the Islanders PP. Over the final quarter of the season, the Islanders are 6-for-31 on the power play, that’s a 19.4% efficiency on the power play. Rookie Oliver Wahlstrom has points on half of that PP production (2 goals, 1 helper).

Wahlstrom leads the Islanders in CF%, FF%, SF%, xGF%, SCF%, and HDCF%* for skaters with at least 50 minutes of power-play time this year. Let me say it this way, he leads the Islanders in every meaningful stat outside of points. Nick Leddy has one more PPP than Wahlstrom’s ten.

(All PP stats from NaturalStatTrick.)

If the PP is going to be a weapon in the playoffs you know that the rookie will have a big say in it. A strong power play thanks to Wahlstrom could very well be the difference between an early exit and a prolonged run.

Adam Pelech | LD

He goes about his business quietly, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Adam Pelech‘s job is keeping the opponent’s top players as quiet as he is. And that’s a tough task. But he does it well. Every. Single. Night.

And has for a few years now under Barry Trotz.

We know that the Trotz system is predicated on defense and Pelech is his most trusted defensive piece. Without him, the whole thing crumbles like a house of cards. We know that because we saw it happen in 2019-20.

So if the Islanders are going to go through the playoffs and keep teams to the second-lowest GA/GP in the NHL (2.23), Adam Pelech will be the reason why.

And I know that when it comes to MVP we tend to think about who has the most production, but I know that Islanders fans are smarter than that. It’s why you all voted Pelech for the Norris in our end-of-year awards.

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