The New York Islanders continue their home stand tonight as they host the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings have had a solid start to the season and currently sit in a playoff spot.
The Islanders had some welcome faces at practice today with Ryan Pulock and Kyle Palmieri returning. This is the first time Pulock has skated with his teammates since his injury.
Palmeri has been making strides to return to the lineup for quite some time. Having a poor start to the season has allowed opportunities for Keiffer Bellows and Austin Czarnik to dress. Both players have proven to be solid contributors.
New York Islanders top line situation
The top line of Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee has seen a plethora of wingers since Jordan Eberle left in the expansion draft last summer. Austin Czarnik was the most recent attempt to fill the wing for Barzal and Lee.
The player with the most intrigue is Oliver Wahlstrom. Barry Trotz does not seem inclined to put Wahlstrom and Barzal together. Wahlstrom fans may need to be satisfied with the young sniper being in the lineup everyday.
Palmieri had a slow start with the Islanders last season and picked up his play in the playoffs. The playoff performance earned him a new contract with the Islanders. The start to the season was not one expected by the Islanders management. Palmieri sits with just one goal in 25 games played this season.
During tough spells in the fall, Trotz made examples of players with poor results. Palmieri seemed to escape this before getting hurt in December.
With the need for a consistent right winger for Barzal, the Islanders coaching staff may plug Palmieri back into that spot straight off the IL. Does this make sense?
The top line has featured Palmieri early in the season, which coincided with the Islanders struggles as a team. After these struggles, Palmieri’s play seemed to decline further.
What makes Palmieri deserve a shot at the top line over Wahlstrom? Palmieri is a proven veteran with some grit to his game. That should be what the captain provides to the line. This line needs a dangerous scoring threat for Barzal’s playmaking ability.
Maybe the time off and fresh start will be good for Palmieri and company, but it is baffling to see Palmieri get a second chance before Wahlstrom’s first chance.