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Islanders: Where goals will come from defense edition

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JUNE 19: Mathew Barzal (R) #13 of the New York Islanders celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning with Adam Pelech #3, Ryan Pulock #6, and Cal Clutterbuck #15 during the second periodin Game Four of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on June 19, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - JUNE 19: Mathew Barzal (R) #13 of the New York Islanders celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning with Adam Pelech #3, Ryan Pulock #6, and Cal Clutterbuck #15 during the second periodin Game Four of the Stanley Cup Semifinals during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Coliseum on June 19, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
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Yesterday I looked at where the goals will come from for the New York Islanders. I looked strictly at the forwards for that analysis. I didn’t look at defensemen at all. I was more concerned with the forwards because, well, they carry the bulk of the offensive load.

We also have a better “understanding” of what that forward group will look like in 21-22. Sure, we don’t know who is signed and to what type of deal, yet. But we have a pretty good idea that Palmieri, Parise, Cizikas, and even Beauvillier are all signed or will be signed.

We don’t have that same clarity for the d-core. The Isles are still without a second-pair lefty. But, to try and give a clearer picture of where the goals might come from for the entire team, here’s a look at expected goals for the current crop of defensemen.

Expected production from New York Islanders blueline

By current crop of defensemen I mean the five that we expect to get consistent playing time:

I’m not just adding a player to the second pair just to get a six-man group. Maybe once the Islanders officially decide who that player will be by either trading for one, signing a free agent, or appointing an internal candidate I’ll revisit this. But till then I’m rolling with those five guys

Just like the forwards, I looked at each of the five defenders ixG over the past three seasons (stats from NaturaStatTrick), how many games they’ve played, and then paced that ixG/Game over 82 to gives us expected goals-for for a full 2021-22 season.

Here are the results:

Just like yesterday’s post, this isn’t a perfect look or even a guarantee that these players put up this type of production. But it’s a good starting point for what the Islanders could be getting from their blueline.

There are two numbers that stick out to me. First, it’s Ryan Pulock. He only had two goals last year. We all know that won’t be repeated in 2021-22. Pulock had a 5.14 ixG last season, meaning he was expected to score at least five goals last year. So even his poor goal total from last year shouldn’t have happened.

Then it’s Andy Greene. I don’t expect Greene to put up five goals on the year.

But again, this wasn’t meant to be perfect but to just give us all an appreciation of where the goals might come from in 2021-22.

So add those 29 goals from the blueline to the 217 from yesterday’s forward article and the Isles are looking at ~246 goals over a full 82 game season. That’s about mid-table levels of goal scoring when compared to the last full season of NHL hockey (2018-19).

I’m not going into the season expecting mid-tier offense, but looking at ixG it seems that the Isles have the potential for middle-of-the-pack offense. And that’s a good sign for them. We know how good the Isles are on the defensive end, what has eluded them over the past few years is offense. If they can bridge that gap this year they will easily be considered as a Stanley Cup favorite.

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