3 New York Islanders players who surprised us this season

The New York Islanders surprised everyone with an incredible run to the playoffs, but a trio of players fueled this team all season.
Apr 13, 2024; New York, New York, USA;  New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) controls the
Apr 13, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) controls the / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
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Simon Holmstrom exceeded expectations with increased ice time

Simon Holmstrom may be the surprise name on the Three Surprises List. But he played well in 75 contests. While Holmstrom showed a few flashes of brilliance in 2022-23, he gave the Isles some stellar play in even greater quantities this season, with 25 points, 15 goals, and an astounding 20.8 shooting percentage. 

Holmstrom showed us that his floor in the NHL should be as a depth scorer with consistent middle-six minutes, and if he makes another leap in 2024-25, it would be hard to place his actual ceiling. Even more impressive is that Holmstrom knew how to constantly distract opponents when the Isles were looking to take back possession, evidenced by his 53 takeaways. 

While Holmstrom’s minus-11.1 possession quality at even strength was nothing to look twice at, he was on the ice for 33 of the Isles goals despite an xGF of 27.7 and for just 39 goals against, which was one over his xGA of 38.8. Overall, you can’t argue Holmstrom is trending in the right direction. While his numbers overall may not have jumped out, he's nonetheless taken a significant step forward in 2023-24. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)