Last season, the New York Islanders defense played a big part in getting the team as far as they did. The whole defensive unit played great and at times, won the game for the Islanders. With some shake-ups already taking place, this is how I see the defense shaping up for next season.
New York Islanders Defense Predictions
There won’t be any changes to this pair. Covering the left side, Adam Pelech will remain at the top. Pelech played great last season. In his 56 games played during the regular season, he picked up four goals and ten assists for 14 points in total. In the playoffs, he also had one goal and four assists and played a pivotal role in the Islanders defense.
Covering the right side, Ryan Pulock will stay with Pelech to round out the top defensive pair. Last season in his 56 games played, Pulock picked up two goals and 15 assists for a total of 17 points. In the playoffs, he picked up four goals and two assists as well.
Pulock and Pelech will remain at the top with no changes because they are easily the two top defensemen on the team right now. The team has a lot of good younger guys though who could take this spot in the coming seasons.
Here’s where things get interesting. With Nick Leddy gone, we need to find someone who will team up with Mayfield and fill that void. I say, take a chance on a younger guy. Sebastian Aho may very well be that younger guy. Although he only played three games last season, he picked up two points off of one goal and one assist. The Islanders should take a chance with him in this position.
On the right side, Scott Mayfield will remain. Mayfield picked up 15 points off of 13 assists and two goals. Scott Mayfield should remain on the second pair because he has earned his spot to play on this pair, anything less would be downright disrespectful. In the playoffs, he had six points in total off of two goals and four assists.
A lot of people thought the Islanders should get Chara for one season. Personally, Aho should be given the chance over Chara because if the team wants to start establishing guys for the future, why not start now?
For the third pair, in order to keep him playing with Dobson, Andy Greene should remain here. Personally, this should be the final season with Greene on the third pair. Last season, in his 55 games played, Greene picked up five points off of one goal and four assists, and in the playoffs, he picked up one point off of one assist.
Covering the right side, Noah Dobson will stay. Dobson is one of the bright young stars on the Islanders. Pairing him with a veteran like Greene should help him to develop rather quickly. Last season, Dobson picked up 14 points off of three goals and 11 assists. He also picked up seven points in the playoffs, all off assists.
Over the course of the last few seasons, Greene hasn’t been putting up the numbers he used to. This season the Islanders should continue to build up their young defensemen. In some games, if there is an opportunity too, they should replace Greene with someone like Samuel Bolduc, Robin Salo, or even Thomas Hickey just to see how it goes.