Ryan Whitney: NY Islanders "a force to be reckoned with" in 2022-23

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Former NHLer and Spittin' Chiclets podcast host, Ryan Whitney, might not dislike a team more than he does the NY Islanders. Funny enough, he's on the record to say that he doesn't dislike the Isles because of the team themselves, but more so due to the interaction he's had with fans on social media. Regardless, Whitney doesn't buy the season the Islanders had in 2021-22, claiming they're going to have a bounce-back season in 2022-23:

"They're gonna be a (explicit) good team, man. Their whole season was the biggest collaboration of bad luck I've ever seen a team have. They had to start the whole season on the road, they all got Covid, no canceled games, and then all of a sudden they started canceling every team's games when guys got Covid. There was no chance they (could) come back (after all that). The roster the year before had gone to the Eastern Conference Final, actually both years before. The Islanders are very good and will be very good this year."

Ryan Whitney

It's a fair point to claim that the Islanders forward group as currently constructed is the same forwards that took the Tampa Bay Lightning to Game 7 in the 2021 Eastern Conference Final. And if you take a look at how things shook out last season, Whitney is right again claiming the Islanders were behind the eight-ball due to the plethora of obstacles they face in-season.

Couple that with a few ideas, starting with the coaching change. Is it ideal to fire a future Hall-of-Fame coach in Barry Trotz? Maybe not, however, Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello claims the locker room needed a "new voice." Maybe they had nowhere to go but up, yet, taking a look at the Montreal Canadiens last season after Martin St. Louis took over behind the bench for Dominique Ducharme, the Canadiens and their young players largely improved, something Lane Lambert will try and do with his own youth.

Said youth includes Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows who has already claimed he wants to be an "impact player" after signing a new one-year contract, Alexander Romanov who improved under St. Louis in Montreal and is working to be even better on Long Island, and Robin Salo looking to claim the Islanders sixth spot on the blue line. Even players like Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal, who have been around a little longer are candidates for a Lambert bump under his new tutelage.

There is also something to be said of the addition by subtraction in terms of Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene. Don't get me wrong, both had excellent careers and deserve all the respect in the world. However, last season you really saw how they were a big part of the anchor that weighed down the Islanders. Getting younger and becoming more mobile on the blue line should make the Islanders more reminiscent of the team they were between 2019 and 2021.

Lambert has a history with getting the most out of his youth too, looking back to 2017-18 when he was assigned to work closely with Tom Wilson and Evgeny Kuznetsov who both to that point had career years.

It's not just the setbacks that the Islanders faced last season that has Whitney high on the Islanders for a bounce-back season. The former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman has high expectations for Ilya Sorokin in net, putting him in the same conversation as friend and rival, Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers:

"I'm telling you right now, you can talk all you want about the goaltender for the New York Rangers, but (explicit) Sorokin is sick on Long Island. I'm telling you the Islanders are going to be a team to be reckoned with this season."

Ryan Whitney

The frustration may be warranted that the Islanders didn't do much after the addition of Romanov in order to improve the team. However, they're the most rested they've been since before the 2019-20 playoffs, they won't start 13-games on the road, and in fact, they'll start their first four games at UBS Arena (and hopefully, Covid will be much less of a factor heading into this season). Barring any major injuries, Whitney knows what a successful NHL team looks like and he's giving the Islanders a major vow of confidence for next season.

Next. 2022-23 NY Islanders Team and individual betting odds. dark