New York Islanders
The New York Islanders had an incredible season last year. It was unexpected, it was fairly dominant, and it was consistent. The team was an overtime loss from winning the Division and was a tough game for any opponent because of their well-coached defensive play and top tier goaltending.
The success that this team had is what makes predicting their impact this season so difficult. Barry Trotz did a remarkable job taking a below average team and making them incredible disciplined. The great coaching makes the likelihood of repeated success a high probability, but the absence of Robin Lehner should bring some concern, as he had a phenomenal year that propelled the team to the heights they achieved.
Losing Valteri Filpula is noticeable, but not a huge concern for a team that got production from many different players. Four players had over 50 points and, with the re-signing of Captain Anders Lee, all four of those players are returning.
This team has a lot of veteran depth. Led by the youthful and incredibly talented Mathew Barzal, this forward group should be able to bring it back another year and go for it all in another season in Trotz’s system. The defense also sports veteran players in their prime who play sound hockey. They aren’t flashy names, but the young and talented Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Scott Mayfield balance out a group with veteran names like Nick Leddy, and Johnny Boychuk.
The Trotz Effect
This team is reliant upon their coach. What they lack in talent they make up for in scheme, but this means that if Trotz can’t continue his coaching masterclass, this team could suffer.
The Goalie Tandem
If the goaltending duo for the Islanders can replicate what Lehner did with Thomas Greiss in 2018, then this team will have a shot at the Division title again.
One Year Wonder?
There is always the worry that what this team did last year borders on being a fluke. It wasn’t long ago that many pundits believed this team was on the track of rebuilding, that could still be true if they can’t replicate the discipline and focus that their style of play requires and is so difficult to do consistently.
Second in Divison
Top 10 pick