NY Islanders' Three Burning Questions Heading Into the Season

New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens
New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages
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Believe it or not, the NY Islanders 2022-23 season is upon us. The Islanders began training camp this week and will open preseason tonight against the New York Rangers. There are three burning questions about the blue and orange heading into the 2022-23 season. Let's break down each as we inch closer to the regular season

Do the Isles Have Enough Scoring?

The first question that everyone is asking is do the Islanders have enough scoring to get back to being a Stanley Cup contender? Last year the Isles finished 23rd in scoring during the regular season. The Isles are going to need to improve that mark. Granted the Islanders play a defensive style and when they are going well they are among the top teams in goals allowed per game, however, they still need to figure out how to fill the net.

Interestingly to note under the Barry Trotz era the Isles finished between 21st and 24th in terms of goals per game before last year. However, the difference is before last year the Islanders finished either second or third in goals allowed per game during Trotz's first three years behind the bench.

Last year they slipped to seventh in GA/GP and it greatly affected their record. It's not easy constantly winning low-scoring one-goal games and if a team's game is a little off in that regard it will significantly impact their record. We saw that last year with the Isles.

So the Isles need to stay true to who they are but they also need to improve their scoring which will surely be an obstacle after no outside additions this offseason. Offensively other than Brock Nelson, Noah Dobson, Anders Lee, and Zach Parise everyone had a down offensively year. Production and consistency were down across the board.

In addition, the Islanders need to find the right linemates for Mathew Barzal so the team can get the most out of him on both ends of the ice. Barzal last year offensively had just 15 goals, and 59 points in 73 games while sporting a -15 plus-minus. The Islanders can't be a prime-time contender with that kind of production from Barzal.

linematesBarzal is an elite player and the Islanders need to get those kinds of results from both him and his line mates. This is critical to the Islanders having huge success this season.

Will Wahlstrom Emerge?

A big x-factor for the Islanders will be Oliver Wahlstrom and if he can make significant strides in his game this coming season. If Wahlstrom could have a similar jump in his play that Dobson did last year, then watch out.

Wahlstrom did get off to a good start last season scoring five goals by early November. But after that, the rest of the season wasn't productive as the Islanders would hope as he finished with 13 goals and 24 points in 73 games.

It's undeniable that Wahlstrom has offensive talent specifically putting pucks in net. His shot is a laser and in the early start of his career he has taken over games offensively, albeit, those games are on a shortlist. The point is if Wahlstrom could emerge this season to say a 25-goal scorer, that would be a big improvement for the Islanders and it should reflect in the standings.

But Wahlstrom's development this season isn't just about the here and now. The Islanders are counting on the then 22-year-old winger to become one of the team's key offensive cogs for years to come. Given the age, and the contract situations on many of the forwards the Isles need Wahlstrom to be a scorer for both the short and long-term.

An ideal situation would be if Barzal and Wahlstrom could mesh together on both ends of the ice. Barzal's play-making ability along with Wahlstrom's shot could be both dynamic and difference-making for the Isles in terms of being a Stanley Cup contender.

Are They Deep Enough on D?

The first question on defense is while one has to love Alexander Romanov's skill and his all-around game he has yet to play a game for the Islanders. The Isles have him penciled as Dobson's defense partner on the second pairing. They'll need that pairing to work for both the short and long-term. The Islanders are counting on Dobson and Romanov to be core players for years to come.

Overall, do the Islanders have enough on the blue line? Everyone knows when they are healthy Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech are a terrific first pairing. Dobson emerged last season and Scott Mayfield is an anchor on defense for the team.

Assuming Romanov will be good the other question on defense is who will be the Islanders' sixth defenseman to play along Mayfield? Right now the primary candidates are Robin Salo, Sebastian Aho, and Grant Hutton.

The Islanders are going to need at least one of them to be a reliable player for them as one of their regular blue-liners. There are reasons to be optimistic about each player but none of them have proven themselves as NHL defenseman yet.

If an injury were to happen to one of the Islanders' main stays on the blue line would the inexperienced Islander defenseman be able to step up in that scenario? As we all know injuries happen in the NHL and if the Islanders were to lose a Pulock like they did last year for a long stretch would that cripple the team? The Islanders are counting on the Salo-Aho-Hutton group to be at least reliable NHL defensemen this season.

All three of these questions are big ones for the Islanders heading into the coming season. If they can answer each of them with flying colors the Isles can creep back into Stanley Cup contention this season.

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