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Islanders 5 bold predictions for 2021-22 season

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 16: Oliver Wahlstrom #26 celebrates with Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders after Palmieri's goal in the first period in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 16: Oliver Wahlstrom #26 celebrates with Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders after Palmieri's goal in the first period in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 16, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
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New York Islanders
Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Mathew Barzal is a point-per-game player

This seems to be a prediction I make every year. And Mathew Barzal has yet to make my prediction come true, but dammit, this year is the year where he returns to a point-per-game player.

And I know, a point-per-game player in a defense-first Barry Trotz system sounds like it can’t happen, but trust me it can. And with Anders Lee back, and God-willing, healthy for a full season, Barzal can absolutely hit a point-per-game.

Why do I think that? Well, he wasn’t too far off last season. In the 26 games where Lee was on the team – minus the game where Lee was injured – Barzal has nine goals and 23 points. That’s a 0.88 points-per-game pace.

Without Lee on his line, Barzal’s xGF% dropped from 59.63 to 54.72, his SCF% dropped from 57.37 to 52.58, and his HDCF% also dropped from 64.39 to 57.8. Oh, and his production fell to 22 points in 29 games or 0.76 points per game.

(xGF%, SCF%, HDCF% all from NaturalStatTrick.)

So without Lee, Barzal suffered. Now with Lee back, can Barzal be that point-per-game guy? Again, yeah, I absolutely think he can. Not only because he’s been a point-per-game player in the past (hello 2017-18), but because he wasn’t far off from being one just last season.

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