By firing Barry Trotz, New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello signaled that his team need to go in a new-ish direction. By promoting Lane Lambert to Head Coach that change won't be a paradigm shift, but more of a slight course correction.
There's been a lot said about what direction the team willl take with Lane Lambert at the helm, but what about the changes his hiring means for individual players? What three players could benefit the most from Lambert taking the reigns from Barry?
New York Islanders: Three players could benefit from new coaching
Barzal is the first name you thought of too right? Of course, it is. Barzal went from over a point-per-game player to a ~60-point player under Barry Trotz.
Barry tried to mold Barzal into a 200-foot player and he got pretty far doing so. I just don't think Barzal will ever be that outstanding 200-foot guy. He's made a hell of a jump on the defensive side of the game and those lessons will serve him well throughout the rest of his career. But Barzal's metaphorical leash needs to be lossened.
Barzal needs to be allowed to play more offensive hockey. That's the strength of his game. He also benefits from wingers that can match his style of play as well as his speed and movement in the offensive zone. Barzal could use a winger that generates more offense off the rush than Anders Lee who's notoriously not a rush player.
That's where Lane Lambert comes in. How he does it will remain to be seen, but with a team who's desperate for more offense, they should be able to get at least another 20 points out of Mathew Barzal under the right circumstances.
He's got seven goals in his last 112 games. That's not the Ryan Pulock we're used to. We're used to Pulock popping in 10 goals a year from the blue line. We know that Lou Lamoriello is trying to get more offense from the defense. Getting Pulock back to the level we've seen from him in the past would be key in achieving that.
Lambert, who was in charge of the defense had a front-row seat to that lack of goalscoring from Pulock over the last two years. So the new HC should have a good idea on how to get Pulock back up to 10 goals on the year.
From my perspective, it's not about putting the puck on Pulock's stick more frequently, though I'm sure that won't hurt. It's about putting him in a better position when shooting. Pulock averaged 2.2 shots on net per game over the last two years, he was averaging 2.4 in the three years prior. Again, it's not volume that will help Pulock but where/when he's shooting that puck.
He was probably the second name you thought of when thinking of the players that could benefit from a coaching change. There's no doubt Wahlstrom should benefit from Lambert stepping up behind the bench.
Barry tried a few strategies with Wahlstrom, but they just didn't work. I think Barry was perhaps a bit too punitive in his approach. But that approach served him in the past. Look at Noah Dobson. But I think Barry was a bit too stubborn and didn't realize that approach wasn't going to work with Wahlstrom.
Lane Lambert observed that from a distance will certainly approach things differently. I would imagine Lambert tries the opposite approach; he probably gives Wahlstrom more ice-time maybe even a more offensive deployment and role on the team.
Instead of dangling that ice-time carrot hoping Wahlstrom can play to the level they want from him, why not give him that ice time and effectively say: "show me what you got." That's not saying it will work, but there's no reason to not try it.