It’s still the New York Islanders offseason. It hasn’t actually been a long offseason per see but we’ve gone through ten months of offseason since March 2020. So that’s eight months of hockey over the last 18 months. So yeah it’s been long.
And while we wait there’s still very little to talk about. So I got creative to pass the time. I made a full team (with some help) of former Islanders based on their country of birth. To make it a bit challenging I could only take one player per nation.
Making up a full team with only one Canadian and one American in a sport that is predominantly played by Canadians and Americans was…tough.
New York Islanders all-time all international team
I also tried to keep things realistic by icing a team with the appropriate talent. I have fourth liners on the fourth line and top liners up top. That’s why this isn’t going to be a “best player per country” type of team.
If not for that, how do I differentiate between Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, and Billy Smith? All are Canadian, they are all hall of famers, they all have four cups with the team, but they all play different positions. Who’s to say who’s the “better” player?
Without further delay, here’s my team. Note that every player is considered to be at their NHL “peak”:
L1 Thomas Vanek (Austria) – Bryan Trottier (Canada)- Ziggy Palffy (Slovakia)
L2 Steve Thomas (UK) – Frans Nielsen (Denmark)-Marius Czerkawski (Poland)
L3 Jason Blake (US) – Leo Komarov (Estonia) – Bob Nystrom (Sweden)
L4 Mikko Makela (Finland) – Ruslan Fedotenko (Ukraine) – Graeme Townshend (Jamaica)
D1 Vladimir Malakov (Russia) – Roman Hamrlik (Czech Republic)
D2 Mark Streit (Switzerland)- Darius Kasparaitis (Lithuania)
D3 Luca Sbisa (Italy) – Anders Myrvold (Norway)
G1 Evgeny Nabokov (Kazakhstan)
G2 Thomas Greiss (Germany)
I think this is a pretty good team. That top line could certainly put up a ton of points. Palffy on a line with a Hall of Fame center? Look out! Palffy could carry the team when he was the only good player on the squad, pair him with a superstar player and I couldn’t imagine the levels he could hit. Now add Thomas Vanek (at his peak) to the mix? This could easily be a dominant line in the league.
That second line could be effective offensively while also being a solid defensive grouping. At least two-thirds of them anyhow. Just having Frans on the team assures the Isles win most of their shootouts.
My third line could out-work any line in the NHL on any day of the week and twice on Saturday. And that fourth line can eat up a few minutes while the others rest. It won’t be nearly as physical as the Isles currently identity line. Fedotenko isn’t necessarily a center but I feel the most comfortable having him down the middle than the other two.
Defensively that top pair or Malakov and Hamrlik could be a solid balance of skill and grit. My second pair of Streit-Kasparaitis would be hardworking with Streit doing all of the offensive work while Kasparaitris provides the toughness, and the occasional hip check needed to balance things out.
My third pair can play 16-18 minutes a night and give me a very Michael Dal Colle performance. They may not be flashy but they won’t make a mistake, and that’s perfectly fine.
I think my folie duo is pretty strong with Nabokov and Greiss.
Does this team win the cup? Who knows. All I know is that it was fun to put together. I’m sure you probably come up with a different combination. Let me hear what your team looks like.
Two Updates and Thank Yous
Now, I needed help with this post. I’ve gone through two updated now because I trusted NHL.com’s “place of origin” filter too much. That was a bad call in retrospect.
Place of origin is not place of birth and I took it as such.
I want to thank @dbfj1218 for the assist with Luca Sbisa and Darius Kasparaitis. Both elude me in my initial research.
Thank you to Ian (@ian_10_19) for pointing out that Mikhail Grabovski was born in Germany and not in Belarus.
And thank you to Thomas Darling (@TomD37) for the assist on Leo Komarov who was born in Estonia.