The New York Islanders have had an enormous amount of success the past three seasons. The combined effort of Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz have turned the organization around in that short span.
Without much player change, Trotz was able to elevate the play of the existing roster. Over the next seasons, the roster added perfect fits in J.G. Pageau and Andy Greene.
Two straight trips to the Eastern Conference Finals showed the progress and proof that this roster would contend for a Stanley Cup. Surely the next season would be the next step.
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Lamoriello was able to retain the restricted free agents and add Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise to an already strong locker room. Jordan Eberle and Nick Leddy were the main exits.
The season has started off less than ideal, to put it lightly. Barry Trotz has come under fire as any coach would with an extended losing streak to start a season. Trotz has made questionable player moves this year and late last season.
Trotz is arguably the best coach in the NHL, but is he trying to be smarter than everyone else? It seems that the obvious moves are not done by Trotz. He will double down when questioned by the media and the fans.
Last season, Anders Lee went down with a season-ending knee injury. The top-line winger was replaced with none other than Leo Komarov. Putting a fringe player on the top wing with Mathew Barzal was highly questioned all playoffs.
Komarov brings a purpose on the ice and invaluable leadership, but this is not the best move for a scoring challenged team. Obviously, the team had success and was one game from the Stanley Cup Finals, but more could have been had with a little scoring punch for Barzal and Eberle.
The natural reaction is to not question the coach that has brought this team to success and certainly knows his roster better than anyone else.
Trotz has continued to hold back the young players in Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, and Keiffer Bellows. Understandably, the roster is built with veterans and a win-now mentality.
The roster could use a scoring threat and Oliver Wahlstrom is a sniper. Granted he is not a fully developed sniper but playing with a player the caliber of Barzal should provide a speedier development joining with team success.
This season, Wahlstrom has shown the ability to score and put the puck to the net. Again, the need for a top-line sniper is evident. Still, Wahlstrom remains with fewer minutes and third-line matchups.
Robin Salo came into the lineup in a difficult situation and played big minutes. He looked as comfortable as a veteran and was solid in every area of the game. Once the players came back from COVID protocol, Salo headed upstairs to watch.
Again, Trotz would not budge and played Sebastion Aho, Grant Hutton, and Zdeno Chara ahead of Salo.
Despite the lack of success overall, Trotz still refused to include Salo in the starting lineup. It has caused a prospect to lose experience playing either at the NHL or AHL level.
This is not a vote of supporting a coaching change, but Trotz is running out of time with this group. The season is rapidly progressing, and this team is far from a playoff spot. Changes are needed and the coach cannot hold his best moves, while the team continues to fail.
The team has reached the point that Trotz is being forced to make some changes in the lineup, but Trotz may have been too proud and waited too long.