Any time a team loses in heartbreaking fashion, like the New York Islanders last night, you hear from the team or the fans “we’ll be back”. Now, on the surface level I agree with the sentiment but it’s a lot more complicated than that.
On paper, the Islanders have a chance to return a very similar team in 2021-2022. Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri are both UFA’s but everyone knew that they were just rentals, and the only other UFA who is an impact player is Casey Cizikas.
Lou Lamoriello may find a way to get something done with Cizikas he absolutely loves that fourth line so don’t be stunned on that one. But keep in mind, there’s an expansion draft and the Isles could lose someone of value there.
Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey, Scott Mayfield, Nick Leddy, and Semyon Varlamov are all potential roster candidates who could get picked up by the new Seattle franchise.
So while the Islanders should be returning a team that is still very much in a contention window, you really never know if you’ll be back or not. As we know, injuries can play a major factor. Just see what happened with the injury to Anders Lee and Adam Pelech from a year ago.
Or you can run into a hot team early in the playoffs. Sure, the Isles have made a habit of winning rounds and going on runs but what if they run into a hot goalie in the first round?
That’s why I’m bummed out today. Yes, in theory, the Islanders did go further (by one game) than they did last year but you only have so many chances at a Stanley Cup.
There are so many variables that come into play when looking at a Stanley Cup run that it’s really impossible to predict if a team will be able to make it back or not. So while I am proud of this team and all they accomplished, at the same time it’s hard not to wonder what if.
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I love this team, and I’m excited for next season in their new building. I just hope that it’s as magical as these last two seasons, with hopefully a better finish.