Who could lead the Islanders in goals in 2022-23?

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The New York Islanders need to score more goals this next season. Simply put. Whether that is helped through offseason acquisitions or some improvements of current players on the roster, it must be done to get this team back into the playoffs.

Brock Nelson scored 37 goals for the Islanders in 2022-23, a career-high in what was a tremendous season for the center. Anders Lee finished second on the team with 28 goals and continued to lead by example as the season went on.

Other than that though, the rest of the Islanders roster had balanced scoring, granted it was pretty low. Jean-Gabriel Pageau finished third in team totals with 18 goals but behind him, most other forwards only finished with around 13-15. I think it's also notable that Noah Dobson had more goals than players who were expected to score more than they did, such as Anthony Beauvillier and Oliver Wahlstrom, and was only one goal behind Josh Bailey.

Fans should have some optimism for this upcoming season when it comes to offense, however. With Lane Lambert taking over behind the bench and the strictly defensive-minded Trotz no longer running the offense, we may see some players break out that had a rough time scoring in what was a tough season to be an avid fan.

As many remember, the 2021-22 season could not have gotten off to a worse start. By the all-star break, the Islanders scored the third-fewest goals-per-game at 2.36, and Brock was the leader still with just 14. By that point, they also took 28.8 shots per game, the fourth-lowest in the league.

So which players currently on the roster could end up taking that next step? I'll omit Brock Nelson from this, considering that he finished 9 goals above the next best on the team last season, so he is assuredly the odds-on favorite to finish at the top again, and that's no fun.

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Anders Lee

Lee is more of an obvious pick considering his history and the type of player he is, so it comes as no surprise that the captain could be the one that puts the most pucks in the back of the opponents' nets.

What may come to some fans' surprise is the low amount of power-play production he has had over the past few seasons.

This past season, he rebounded from only having 3 PPGs and 1 assist in 2020-21, as well as only scoring 2 PPGs the year prior to that while still playing in 68 games. In 2021-22, he scored 9 of his 28 goals on the man advantage.

In Lee's case, it's not to figure out where he could be best placed on the power play. He is always willing to go to the front of the net and screen the goalie and is one of the best at redirecting pucks in the entire league. Getting dirty near the blue paint is where he finds the most success, and many of us remember when he scored 40 goals doing just that in 2017-18. If he continues to be that net-front presence, he could threaten that mark again if he stays healthy.

Lee commonly plays on the first line, centered by Mat Barzal, and they have connected well over the years. With Barzal heading into a contract season, he could be the beneficiary of some great offensive production on that line, especially if they find the right piece to add on the right-wing.

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Kyle Palmieri

If "forget the first half of 2021-22 Kyle Palmieri" is the one we get all of next season, then the potential is bright for a high-scoring campaign.

Palmieri was added by Lamoriello at the 2021 trade deadline for the Islanders' playoff push, and fans got to see what he was capable of doing at his best in the playoffs. So much so that it seemed like the Islanders had to choose between keeping him or Jordan Eberle in the offseason that followed, and with controversy among fans, Palmieri ended up being the one to stay.

Eberle may have shown more flash and speed off the wing and had definite chemistry with Mat Barzal, but Palmieri was chosen because he fit the role of the team's identity more. Eberle was small and avoided the dirty areas, while Palmieri was rough and tumble and acted like a power-forward.

This past season, fans who would have preferred Eberle to stay had a lot to say when he got off to a hot start, but Palmieri had only one goal for the longest amount of time it seemed. But after Barry Trotz told him to "forget the first half of the season" and instead focus on the second half, a whole new beast was born.

He only finished with 15 goals by the season's end, but that's a mighty improvement after only having 1 in the first 29 games. If that pace were to continue into this season the Islanders will find success on likely the second line and power play and say a breakout happens, the sniper could be one of the team's finest leaders by example.

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Anthony Beauvillier

This guy may need a bounce-back season the most out of any forward on the New York Islanders this upcoming season.

Beauvillier is a very streaky player for the Islanders, that is no secret. When he's hot, he's red hot, but when he's cold, he's ice cold.

This past season was not what anyone expected from him, however. He only ended up with 12 goals on the season, to go with 34 points in 75 games. To put that into perspective, in the shortened 2020-21 season, he had 28 points in 47 games. He was even a healthy scratch at one point early in the season because of his poor play.

A word that everyone throws around a lot is potential, and it is there with Beauvillier. He has yet to crack the 40-point mark in general, which is very disappointing, but there's always a reason to believe that he will break through that sooner rather than later. Lou even said he wants his younger players to get more action this coming season, so he sees it as much as we do.

What we do know is he may have the best chemistry with Barzal out of anyone on the roster, which alone can set him up for success. He has produced on a line next to his best friend in the past, and I'd say his only chance of leading the team in goals would be next to him.

Even though Beauvillier's numbers weren't very satisfactory, he had his best power-play statistics this past season with 5 goals and 6 assists. Those numbers won't blow you away, but at least everyone who watches Beau knows that he needs to be a little more selfish and shoot more. Just like we said with Anders Lee, at least the coaching staff knows that he will have chemistry with the team's best playmaker in Barzal, so if he gets a shot on the first line this season, he should hopefully produce.

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Oliver Wahlstrom

Now when it comes to potential, Wahlstrom may have the highest ceiling out of any Islanders forward when it comes to sniping the puck.

He is very young, and that is part of the reason why his ice time was so limited in his first two seasons. However, his production was pretty good for only averaging around 12 minutes on the ice per game. Even when he may not have produced on the scoresheet, Islanders fans couldn't get enough of the energy he brought along with the willingness to shoot the puck from anywhere.

Something that was a little shocking and somewhat forgotten about was his trajectory during this season. He scored 13 goals this season, 1 more than in 2020-21, but 10 of those 13 came before the all-star break. He was tied with Mat Barzal for third on the team at that time. Talk about the reverse Palmieri.

The fans have clamored for the former 11th overall pick to get more time than he does, which is understandable considering he may have the best release on the team other than Nelson, or maybe even Palmieri, and added much needed youth to a veteran lineup.

If fans can use their imagination, putting Wahlstrom on the top power-play unit in the "Ovechkin-spot" just seems like it would fit like a glove. With Barzal's creative passing ability and being able to draw defenders near him, he will surely find some more space to rip it more this season.

Many fans recall the few games that Lane Lambert needed to coach on the interim tag in Trotz's absence, where they went 2-1, and how the younger players including Wahlstrom got a second wind of energy that we never really saw with Trotz. Lou said that watching Lambert perform in those few games gave him some clarity if he can coach the players on this team. If this is Lou's vision for the success of the younger players he drafted, then Wahlstrom may have a break-out high-scoring year of his own.

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Mathew Barzal

We all know that Barzal isn't a prototypical goal-scorer, but he is easily the most dynamic player on the team and is a franchise center looking for a big payday in the 2022-23 offseason.

That isn't to say though that Barzal can't shoot the puck, he can. When he elects to shoot he can really zing it. I believe this season we can expect him to elect to shoot more often this year considering it is a huge year for him coming up, and I'm sure he isn't happy that his career-high in goals came in his rookie season, 5 years ago.

In order for him to do this realistically, he needs to be paired up with the right people. Whether it's Lee, Wahlstrom, or a player outside of the organization to management to find, that will be key to his success. It's most likely that the team will try to get a bonafide goal scorer to fit next to him, but what if the reverse expected result happened?

If we take a few steps back to his 2017-18 season, on the power-play we mostly saw him play in the aforementioned "Ovechkin-spot." But of course, he wasn't shooting as much as, say, Wahlstrom would in that spot; he's dishing out cross-ice passes along with passes behind the net.

Barzal most certainly had a down year this season with only 15 goals and 59 points, but a breakout season has to be coming sooner or later. He has mostly hovered around 60 points a season ever since his sensational rookie season where he won the Calder Trophy, and that needs to change for both his own and the team's success.

His breakaway speed is enough to warrant fear in the eyes of defenders, which is something we really have not seen from Barzal often as of late. He would elect to slow up and slow the play down when it looks like he has a chance to open the ice up, and that's something we rarely saw when he came into the league. Most likely some influence from Barry, but again, he is no longer with the team.

Islanders fans this season may not know what to expect at all when it comes to how much this team will improve with goal scoring and taking risks every once in a while. But one thing is for sure, the Islanders' identities of capitalizing on opponents' mistakes, being hard to play against, and proving people wrong can surely propel players to find newfound success and help them in their quest to reclaim a top spot in the Metro this season.