- Anders Lee - Mathew Barzal - Oliver Wahlstrom
- Kieffer Bellows - Brock Nelson - Anthony Beauvillier
- Josh Bailey - J.G. Pageau - Kyle Palmieri
- Zach Parise - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Okay, it's not really a movement, but there's more youth in the top 6. Bellows signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract this summer in order to remain a member of the Islanders. He did play the most games he's played in his NHL career thus far, but didn't do much in terms of earning a raise, yet he did. The Islanders need to know who and what Bellows is to this team, especially since they're paying him above his market value.
Believe it or not, the trio of Nelson, Beauvillier, and Bellows skated for 75:01 together last season and were actually quite successful. According to NaturalStatTrick, the three of them combined for an excellent 59.48 CF%, 75.00 GF%, 62.13 xGF%, and 65.63 HDGF%. It's not the biggest sample size, but those are some pretty convincing numbers to at least try Bellows out with Nelson and Beauvillier once more. Bellows was drafted to be a goal scorer and he's proven his shot is NHL quality. Beauvillier can be a good enough distributor to feed both shooters on the line, and the hope remains Nelson will maintain his 30-goal stature.
The key to Bellows' success could be elevating him rather than looking to make him earn it in the bottom-6 as the opportunities just may not be presenting themselves for him to score in a lesser role. Given his comments over the summer, he at least seems determined enough to prove himself as an impact player:
"I mean, I view myself as being a regular in a lineup. That’s what I want to be. I want to be making a big impact from day one. That’s what I plan to do. I plan to be good defensively but also be a big offensive player, use my shot, score some goals for this team."- Kieffer Bellows
In this scenario, Wahlstrom remains on the top line as the trigger man next to Barzal. Lee parking himself in front of the opposition's goaltender while Barzal distributes and Wahlstrom shoots sounds like a recipe for success as if the puck doesn't go in upon initial shot, Lee is there to clean up the rebound.
There's a similar feel on the third line with Bailey distributing, Pageau as the net-front presence, and Palmieri as the lines shooter. It's a line that puts the a few Isles veterans in a lesser role, giving them fresher legs both in-game and season long which, again, could lead to more meaningful shifts on a nightly basis.
The eyebrow-raiser here is Parise on the fourth line. Does Lambert "reward" his hardest worker with a demotion? Well, he has the speed and grit to match the fourth lines checking mentality, and playing on Cizikas' left puts Martin out of the lineup. Overall, it results in a faster lineup, making the Islanders younger and faster.
Training camp is around the corner so time will tell what tricks Lambert has up his sleeve. All we know is right now, the forward group remains the same. The difference in deployment will come if/when the youth forces Lambert to play them more and elevate their roles.