Years of finishing in the basement of the standings and developing prospects have finally paid off for the New York Islanders as they made the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season, last year.
One huge reason for the turnaround was John Tavares, who leads the Islander’s offense, scoring 47 points in 48 games last season.
Tavares is surrounded by other young, skilled players in Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner. The team also has supporting players in P-M Bouchard, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey.
But not only is the offense skilled, they’re tough to play against. Okposo, Matt Martin and newly-acquired Cal Clutterbuckhit anything that move and will drop the gloves.
Kyle Okposo had a rebound season scoring 24 points in 48 games and adding four points in six playoff games. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
The defense is also made up of youngsters and other team’s castaways. Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald create a top-notch shutdown pairing. Thomas Hickey and Brian Strait were waiver pick-ups that turned out to be capable of playing in the top-six, while Lubomir Visnovsky is the savvy veteran.
However, the Islanders will need to replace Mark Streit‘s offense, who did not want to re-sign with the team and ended up with the Philadelphia Flyers.
In net is where New York sees the most problems. Evgeni Nabokov is the starter, but had a tough time against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs.
Anders Nilsson and Kevin Poulin will fight for the back-up spot, while also competing as the goalie of the future of the team.
The Islanders are resilient and hard-working, but if the Hurricanes can slow down the Islanders’ first two offensive lines, scoring will be hard for the team.
It’s also smart to just shoot against Nabokov, who sometimes gets off his game.