Islanders: Improved player development a must for success this season

Nashville Predators v New York Islanders
Nashville Predators v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The New York Islanders have made zero changes to their current offensive core to date. The Isles struggled on offense last season scoring just 2.78 goals per game, 23rd overall in the NHL. That and comments from GM Lou Lamoriello on the need to improve offense led many to believe there would be a roster shake-up to improve the offense. However, weeks past the opening of free agency, Lamoriello still has yet to make a move.

If the Islanders do not make any changes up front this offseason, the team will have to hope they get some impact from their younger players. The longer-tenured players need to bounce back and produce, too but most successful teams operate with a younger player or two making significant strides in their development while on cheap contracts. With little cap space, the Isles success in 2022-23 could hinge on players like Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows logging consistent minutes and putting up points on cheap contracts.

Nazem Kadri has been rumored to potentially be signing with the Isles, but at this point, it is just a rumor and as of right now the Islanders need someone to step up from within. Young players could be pivotal next season potentially filling the void of not making a big free-agent signing. If Wahlstrom bounces back, the Yarmouth, Maine native has 20-30 goal potential. That kind of development is what general managers hope to find in free agency, but it could come at a fraction of the cost. Wahlstrom could be the Isles big-time scorer that they have been looking for as an in-house solution.

Aatu Raty, William Dufour, and Simon Holmstrom are three players who most likely will be starting next season in Bridgeport. It is not an unreasonable thought to hope they get called up to NHL at some point next season if they are consistently playing well at the AHL level. If not, they have the potential to break into the NHL and contribute to the Islanders in the following years.

The Islanders' 2022-23 season can be defined by how the younger players perform. New head coach Lane Lambert is expected to give the younger Islanders more opportunities next year. If they break out and have success as secondary scorers, the Isles offense should be just fine.