Bo Horvat was set to be the league's biggest prize at the trade deadline and again once free agency began. Lou Lamoriello claimed that prize, acquiring Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks well before deadline day, setting off a trading frenzy throughout the league. Horvat never made it to free agency as he was inked to an 8-year deal before even playing a game with the Isles.
Heading into this year as the Isles first-line center, Horvat hopes to reincarnate some of that magic he had last season while playing in Vancouver. His 31 goals as captain of the Canucks were among the league's best before being traded, but he failed to bring that same prowess to Long Island.
With 36 games under his belt with his new teammates and set to enter his first Islanders training camp, Horvat may be better adapted and ready to return to the form he was in with Vancouver.
One of the more underrated players in the league, Brock Nelson has caught the attention of his opponents and the national media over the last two seasons. Setting a career-high in goals in 2021-22 with 37, Nelson followed that up with a 36-goal campaign this past season, adding 39 helpers for a career-best 75 points.
Though he's been the Islanders' leading goal scorer the last two seasons, Nelson is the jack of all trades, capable of playing in any situation. Though the power play struggled all season, Nelson remains a critical piece to the Isles' success on the man advantage as he can change the team's fortunes with his deadly shot. Not only crucial at even strength and the power play, but he's also among the team's best penalty killers.
“I don’t know that he needs to move up, but I was happy to see him get some credit here,” one exec said. “He’s a good, good player and hard to play against.”
Nelson's success is critical to the Islanders' success, as he and Horvat make for one of the league's top 1-2 punches down the middle when they're both clicking.