The NHL season is barely over but that doesn't mean we can't look back on the year. If anything this is the perfect time for us all to still look back on the New York Islanders 2021-22 season before having to focus on the next season.
But what if we could do both simultaneously? I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the better offensive lines from last year to both acknowledge what they did last year and also look at what type of setup Lambert can use in 22-23.
What I'm doing here is looking at the best lines at creating more scoring opportunities than they gave up at 5on5. We know that next year Lane Lambert will use some derivation of the Trotz system that relies on quality over quantity so what set of lines was better at doing so last year?
New York Islanders best offensive lines for 2021-22
To figure out what lines were better than others I'm using MoneyPuck.com's line stats. I'm using their default filter of a minimum of 30 minutes together. I want a big enough sample size but not one that takes away some of the combinations that worked on paper but didn't get enough of a chance.
Here are the top five offensive lines for xGF% at 5on5:
1. Bellows-Nelson-Beauvillier: 66.2% (75.1 minutes)
2. Parise-Pageau-Palmieri: 62.5% (56.9 minutes)
3. Lee-Barzal-Clutterbuck: 61.3% (37.2 minutes)
4. Parise-Pageau-Wahlstrom: 59.3% (196.6 minutes)
5. Beauvillier-Nelson-Palmieri: 59.1% (143.4 minutes)
The biggest takeaway from that list in my mind is that the Parise-Pageau just clicks. Going into 22-23 they shouldn't be split up. Nelson-Beau is another duo that seems to work here. So assuming Beau stays next season and he isn't moved in a hockey trade, he should absolutely continue to shadow Brock Nelson.
I know Beauvillier didn't have an impressive season, he'll admit the same thing. But there's still something to his game that works, specifically when he's playing with Nelson. That trio of Bellows-Nelson-Beauvillier is a group the Isles should role with on day one of the 22-23 season for the second line*.
*Again, assuming they keep Beauvillier.
That's three of four lines basically set. The fourth line will be some combination of Martin/Johnston-Cizikas-Clutterbuck. That hasn't been confirmed but I don't think you need a crystal ball to know that's what they'll run in 22-23. On line two, you've got Bellows-Nelson-Beauvillier, and on line three is at least the Parise-Pageau duo.
We've seen Lee-Barzal work in the past and you see it here that they generate 61.3% xGF at 5on5 with Clutterbuck on the wing. With Palmieri playing RW (77.8 5on5 minutes) they hold a 53.6% xGF and with Bailey taking RW duties (257.8 5on5 minutes) they have a 51.7% xGF. To me, Lee-Barzal works.
They just need that third element to really take off. That's not a hot take or even a new take. Getting a top-line winger has been the Islanders offseason priority for a few years now. This year they must bring one in.
The only issue I see here is with Oliver Wahlstrom. Where does he play? If the Islanders get a top-line winger he's bumped down to the middle six. Bellows seems like a good fit with Nelson. Do we continue to play him on L3? That trio did generate the fourth-best xGF% of the year.
I'll admit Wahlstrom puts a wrench in this setup. I think he's got a ton of potential and could be a top-line player eventually. But he might have to start the year on L3 while getting a ton of power-play time in the shooter position.