It's kind of wild to think that the New York Islanders still have 34 games to play during the year. It already feels like the season should be in its final stretch. Maybe that's just because we all want the season to end now?
So let's fast-forward, at least for the sake of this post. Let's indulge our desire to see this season out as soon as possible by thinking of five things that could happen for the Islanders when the curtain is actually pulled on the year.
But let's have a bit of fun with it and think of five bold predictions.
New York Islanders: 5 bold predictions for rest of 2021-22 season
Nelson puts up 40 goals
With 19 goals in 39 games, Brock Nelson is currently on pace for 36 goals on the year. A pace that would crush his previous career-high of 26 goals in a single season.
So could he add another four goals to that pace? It's not going to be easy of course. He's already on a career-year pace, so asking him to raise his game, even more, is...well, asking a lot. But with Barzal likely out for a bit, Nelson will be asked to lead the line offensively down the middle.
He'll get more looks for it. And with the pace he's on right now, more looks should lead to more goals. You also have to think he knows he's trending towards a 40 goal season and he's absolutely going to try and hit it.
Josh Bailey traded
Bailey has missed a few games as a healthy scratch recently and the guy stepping in for him has done well with their ice time. I'm talking about Kieffer Bellows. The 2016 first-rounder has taken a while to get to this level but now that he's here he's doing well with his role.
He hasn't made Josh Bailey obsolete but a spot in the team's top-six has to be made for Bellows now. And it does seem like some teams are interested in Bailey as the trade deadline approaches. I don't think the Islanders want to trade Bailey, but trading him allows them to open up that spot in the top-six and create extra cap space, and get what would certainly be a good return. That's win-win-win.
Otto Koivula given a significant tryout
The Islanders will certainly lose a few pieces at the trade deadline. I just mentioned Bailey but I can see Parise and even Clutterbuck leaving for a good return. That's going to open space for some guys further down the depth charts.
That likely means Otto Koivula is going to get a call up for a significant trial run at the end of the season. Koivula only has 15 NHL games in his career (12 in 2019-20 and three last year). At the AHL level this year, the 2016 fourth-rounder has done very well with 35 points in 42 games.
He's earned a call-up and a run of games to see what he's got at the NHL level. The games don't matter and won't matter going down the stretch so it's the perfect opportunity to see what Koivula can do.
Beauvillier scores 20
Beau only has eight goals on the year so getting another 12 with less than half the season is a bold prediction. Perhaps my boldest one here. But we've seen Beauvillier fill the net in the second half of the season before.
After sitting in the Barry Trotz doghouse for a little while (deservedly so), Beauvilier has stepped up. His effort is obvious every shift and every night. Just like with Nelson, the Islanders are going to ask more out of Beauvillier with Barzal out. A more confident Beau with more looks should lead to him filling up the net in the second half.
Noah Dobson puts up 50 points
An Islanders defenseman hasn't put up more than 50 points in a season since Mark Streit did it in 2008-2009. That's going to change with Noah Dobson. He's going to put up 50 on the year.
With 25 points in 46 games, he's not quite on pace for 50. It's actually a pace of 44 points. But consider that most of this production has come in the second half of the year. In his last 23 games, Dobson has five goals and 16 points. That's 64% of his production.
I can without a doubt see Dobson make up that six-point difference between his pace and this prediction in the 34 games that remain on the schedule.