It's the season of giving. Or it will be soon. Christmas is almost here so with that in mind what is a gift that each New York Islanders player could use?
For this, I'm going with both actual gifts and conceptual ones (you'll see what I mean). But the goal is the same for all. What is one thing that could help each Islanders player get to their best or to another level?
And by players I'm going with the full 23 player set up they typically use during the regular season.
New York Islanders: Christmas gifts for each player
Mathew Barzal: Oliver Wahlstrom
I didn't put two names together here. The one thing Mathew Barzal needs more than anything to be at his best is a volume shooter and one that converts shots to goals at a high rate. That is teammate Oliver Wahlstrom who's got 2.5 shots per game and converting shots to goals at a 12.3% clip. SO when Barzal is back, put them together.
Anders Lee - Send It X-Factor
Lee is scoring at a good rate with a 15.7% conversion rate. But Lee's assist count is way low. With two helpers on the year (in 21 games), he's on pace for eight in a full 82 game season. That's just not enough. So gifting him the 'Send It' x-factor from NHL22 to "pull the strings from anywhere on the ice" seems like the right call.
Kyle Palmieri - A New Stick
It's been a poor year from Kyle Palmieri. With one goal on 57 shots, Palmieri is converting at a 1.8% clip. That's horrendous. Maybe a new stick gives him the ability to pop a few more goals?
Anthony Beauvillier - A puppy
I'm pretty sure this is the same gift I gave him last year and as far as I know, he still doesn't have one. Beau needs to get back to having fun. There isn't anything more fun than a new puppy.
Brock Nelson - Let Him Lose
Brock has been excellent (again) for the Islanders as their second-line center. While Barzal is out with COVID, why not have him on the top line with Lee and Wahlstrom? Maybe that's too many shoot first guys, but perhaps letting Brock loose offensively could return even more?
Josh Bailey - Reduced role
He's having a really rough year. Like really rough. Recently, Bailey has been receiving a ton of ice time but hasn't done anything with it. I know a reduced role doesn't sound like a great gift, but some players perform better when the spotlight is off of them.
Oliver Wahlstrom - More Trust
That's all Wahlstrom needs. He's got the skill and he's got the numbers to back it up. All he needs is for Trotz to trust him and his production will easily hit the next level.
Zach Parise - Same stick Palmieri is getting
There's no real complaint about Parise's game. With a league-minimum deal, the expectation is that he can play at the NHL level and contribute in some way. He's doing that. But maybe we can get a few more goals? Parise is shooting at a career-low 2.4% efficiency. So maybe he gets the same stick Palmieri is getting?
Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Back to L3
Just like Josh Bailey. Sometimes less is more. It's not that Pageau hasn't done well in his time as a 1C, but he's without a doubt a 3C. Probably the best in the NHL for that role. Pulling him out of that is unfairly asking too much of him.
Matt Martin - Clean bill of health
Martin has had a nagging injury all year. He's been in and out of the lineup throughout the season and that's prevented him from establishing a good flow to his season. Clearing him of that injury gets him on the ice consistently and playing his best again.
Casey Cizikas - Same stick Palmieri and Parise are getting
You know how every year there's that one gift that everyone is getting? This year, it's that stick. Just like Palmieri and Parise, Cizikas needs a new stick. He's converting at a 0% efficiency. I shouldn't have to tell you that's not normal for him. Cizikas is usually converting shots to goals at a 9% clip, which means he should be at three goals by now. That stick helps him get there.
Cal Clutterbuck - Can grow his mustache for 1 day
Cal has been excellent this year. There are zero complaints about his game. So he gets to grow his mustache back for a single day. This might also have the unintended benefit of pushing Kyle Palmieri. You know he wants to grow that beard back.
Kieffer Bellows - Barry's Big Book of Hockey
There's only one thing keeping Kieffer Bellows back, and it's his play in the Barry Trotz system. He's got the production but he isn't playing the way the coach wants. So how about a book to learn exactly what the coach wants?
Ross Johnston - A chance
I feel like being a 13th forward at the NHL level is Ross Johnston's ceiling. That's not a knock against him. But to see if he can be more he needs a chance. A consistent chance to show he can be more.
Adam Pelech - Spa day
Adam Pelech has been perfect this year. He's been perfect for years now. So he gets a spa day (or whatever he likes to do). He deserves an off day to just sit and relax.
Ryan Pulock - Healing Potion
It's not quite the same thing as Matt Martin, but it's close. Pulock needs something that's going to cure his injury ASAP. That's how he gets back to his best, by getting back to the ice yesterday.
Zdeno Chara - Rejuvenation Elixir
Chara isn't the player he was ten or even five years ago. So how about an elixir that takes off a few years from his current game and gives him back some of what made him one of the best D in the NHL?
Noah Dobson - Positive recording from Trotz
Dobson is hitting peak confidence right now. With four points in his last five games. He's up to ten in 24 games. A pace of 34 points over 82 games. He's finally stepping into the player we thought he could be at the start of the year. So how about a recording from Trotz praising Dobson's play for him to play on loop and keep his confidence at its peak.
Andy Greene - PF Flyers with blades
The shoe from the Sandlot guaranteed that their wearer would run faster. But these have blades on them so Andy Greene can get that extra step he's lost.
Sebastian Aho - Extra tall skates
Think about skates with blades that are say 1 inch taller than usual? That would boost Aho's height on the ice. Maybe just feeling bigger will make him play a bigger game?
Robin Salo - Barry's Big Book of Hockey: Defense Edition | Foreward by Roman Josi
This isn't the same gift as Bellows got, this one is specifically for how Barry wants defenseman to play and with a foreword by former Trotz disciple Roman Josi. If Bellows' book helps him get in Trotz's good graces this one should ensure Salo never gets to Trotz's dog house.
Ilya Sorokin - Join Pelech
Just like Adam Pelech. Sorokin has been excellent this year. He's let a few goals he'd probably like back but with a 2.49GAA and 0.926SV%, there's nothing to change about his game. So hit up the spa with an ebook and treat yo'self Ilya.
Semyon Varlamov - Softer Pads
Varly is having a tough time controlling his rebounds at the moment. So why not get him some pads that won't make the puck fly off of him?