Another pause in the New York Islanders schedule gives us a chance to pause and think about the season. With that, I thought we could take the time to look at a few players that have taken a step up and some that have taken a step down this year.
I've got to give a shout-out to Greg Wyshynski. His recent piece on ESPN.com gave me the inspiration to do the same for the Isles. Greg only looked at the players who took a step up (leveled up) but with the way the Islanders season has gone so far, It's only fair to look at the players who have also taken a step back (powered down) too.
New York Islanders players who leveled up or powered down
Oliver Wahlstrom - Leveled Up
He's got 15 points in 26 games. A pace that would see him score 47 points over the year. Consider that he's got a fairly even split between goals and helpers (8 and 7 respectively) and it seems that Wahlstrom has become a more well-rounded offensive threat.
On that merit alone Oliver Wahlstrom has leveled up. But it goes beyond that with Wahlstrom. He's doing all the little things the right way. He's committed, consistent and it's earning him the coach's trust.
Kyle Palmieri - Powered Down
One goal on the year. With 57 shots on net that's a 1.8 percent conversion rate. That's not even close to good enough from the veteran forward. Will he sustain this? The Islanders certainly hope not. A hope that hasn't shifted since the Islanders signed him to that long-term deal.
Remember, Palmieri didn't have a very productive regular season with 21 in 51 games between the Devils and Islanders. He was converting at a career-low 8.7% efficiency and the Isles hoped (or believed) that wouldn't hold. I guess they were right. It got worse.
Can he get back to where he used to me? It's possible and the Islanders certainly hope he does.
Noah Dobson - Level Up
It didn't start too well for Dobson. A shaky start to the year had the Islanders wonder if their 2018 first-rounder was ready for an enhanced role on the team. And then Ryan Pulock went down with an injury so the team had to let Dobson role in a top-four role. And he's answered.
Since Pulock's injury, Dobson has routinely played over 20 minutes a night (21:49 on average to be precise). He's also started to put up points with seven points (three goals and seven helpers) in 13 games since Pulock's absence.
Dobson taking a step up is exactly what the Islanders were hoping for when they didn't acquire another defenseman after the Nick Leddy trade.
Josh Bailey - Powered Down
It has not been a good one for Josh Bailey. His ten points in 21 games are certainly not bad (a 39 point pace) but there's much to be desired from Bailey's game. His decision-making seems a step behind where it should be. His passing has let him down.
And he's just not a shot threat. He's got 18 shots on the year, which is less than a shot per game played. Like Palmieri, that's not close to good enough and certainly doesn't justify his power play time or even his team-leading ice time from the Vegas loss.
Again, Bailey isn't having a good one right now. Will he ever be that 71 point player from 2017-18? At 32 years old its unlikely, but maybe he can get close to it? Hopefully...