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Islanders: Who is considered part of the "core?"

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders
Washington Capitals v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The New York Islanders are certainly in a unique spot. Whether you believe they overachieved or not, the Islanders were successful in three of their previous seasons. Coming into the 2021-22 season, many expected them to maintain or surpass that success, however, they obviously didn't in spectacular fashion. Now, we keep hearing about the Islanders' "window to win" and question how open said window is. To answer that, we need to know who the "core" of the Islanders is to determine how long their window will be open.

A statistic that's often thrown around regarding the Islanders is their average age. On paper, they're the oldest team in the NHL with an average age of 29.7. Remove Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene who feel doubtful to return next season and that age cuts down significantly barring they bring in another 45-year-old... which there aren't any.

Kevin Kurz of The Athletic recently hosted a mailbag and when asked about who the Islanders' core is, he accurately stated:

"Here’s who I’d say qualifies on the Islanders: Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Mathew Barzal, Noah Dobson, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin. Maybe you can make a case for some others, but I’m stopping at those seven."

Kevin Kurz

That's a pretty good representation of the core. If there's any one player who you could argue should be included, it's J.G. Pageau. Pageau has a partial no-trade clause next season and beyond so he's not impossible to trade if it comes down to it, but because of how relied on he is and how much he contributes in all three zones that probably wouldn't happen. His age also works considering he's younger than both Lee and Nelson.

Center is easily the Islanders' position where they're the deepest, so you could see why one would consider not including Pageau in the core, especially if Aatu Räty surprises us all and wins a job on the roster next season, but besides that, Pageau probably deserves to be named to the Islanders core.

However you measure it, the definition of the core for the Islanders is fluid. If Oliver Wahlstrom remains with the Isles (barring a "hockey trade") after the summer and has a breakout year, you could certainly pencil him in with the core. The same can be said about Anthony Beauvillier and Robin Salo. You'll also have to factor in any players that may come in this summer depending on what their future with the team looks like. For now, Kurz was probably right and maybe we should include Pageau too. Again, it's fluid, but that probably gives the Isles a window to win within two to four years.

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