The 5 most influential Islanders players for 2021-2022
The New York Islanders have one of the most comprehensive rosters in the NHL and hope to build on the success of last season, when the team reached the Stanley Cup semi-finals and hopefully. the, winning his first cup since the 1982-83 NHL season. As the 2021-22 NHL season approaches, the Islanders have plenty of players who are necessary for the team’s success. Plus, with back-to-back semifinal appearances, the future looks bright as a handful of players have proven at the front office that they can build a Stanley Cup team around them.
5. Brock Nelson
Brock Nelson established himself as one of the Islanders’ top scorers and gave the attacking unit a solid change later as he leads a line alongside forwards like Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier or Oliver Wahlström. Last season, Nelson scored 18 goals for the team and distributed 15 assists with excellent offensive zone instinct and efficiently carrying the puck through the neutral zone to start the offense.
In the Stanley Cup playoffs, Nelson further cemented his status as the Islanders’ Most Valuable Player by scoring seven playoff goals, including three in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins and three against the Boston Bruins in the second round. Turning 30 in October, Nelson will remain a vital player for the Islanders that the front office will try to build as he leads scoring depth for the team and helps with line combinations on the front unit with his control. offensive.
4. Adam Pelech
Adam Pelech has arguably emerged as the Islanders’ best defenseman with his excellent overall play which has paid off this offseason as he secured an eight-year, $ 46 million contract, proving he is necessary for the success of the team. Pelech played in the top defensive duo, averaging 21:03 minutes of ice time per game last season. But throughout the season, he’s been one of the team’s most disciplined defenders and performed exceptionally in the neutral zone and the defensive zone, cutting corners of opposing skaters at the net and creating turnovers to put up the offensive.
Pelech won’t provide a strong point presence on the offensive end of the ice, scoring just five regular season goals and 20 career points in the 2018-19 NHL season. On the contrary, the 27-year-old defenseman offers excellent discipline on the blue line and keeps the puck in the attacking zone as forwards develop chances to score near the net. With the eight-year contract, Pelech will be an important defenseman for the whole unit and will team up alongside any of the right-side defenders, whom the Islanders have more than enough talent to tackle the coming season.
3. Anders Lee
Ander Lee wasn’t one of the biggest contributors last season, missing the second half of the regular season and the entire Stanley Cup playoffs with a ripped ACL. Lee’s absence, however, only served as a reminder to everyone of his value to the team, as the Islanders lost their captain and leading scorer who scored 12 goals in 27 games during the regular season. 2020-21 in the NHL and has scored 20 or more goals in five seasons of his career.
Additionally, once the Islanders captain was put on the long-term injury list, the entire offensive unit struggled as the front row failed to find a goalscorer who could finish scoring. opportunities close to the goal. The back of the attacking unit also struggled, as head coach Barry Trotz constantly shuffled his attacking unit in the hopes of finding the right line combinations. For the coming season, the team will be hoping their 31-year-old captain can get back in shape and continue to provide a strong scoring presence for the front row.
2. Ryan Pulock
There is a legitimate debate about which defenseman for the Islanders is the best on the team. Is it Pelech or his partner Ryan Pulock? Last season, Pulock solidified his status as the team’s top defenseman, playing at an elite level in the neutral and defensive zone. He played particularly well near the net disrupting his opponents’ scoring chances and blocking 106 shots, the team’s second-tallest behind Scott Mayfield. The 28-year-old defenseman led the Islanders skaters with an average ice time of 22:27 per game and a defensive points share of 4.4 last season. Together with Pelech, they could form the best defensive duo in the NHL next season.
In the Stanely Cup playoffs, the Islanders saw Pulock on a different level, leading the defensive unit and, often, leading the team to victory. Despite struggling on the point and on the attacking side of the ice, Pulock scored four playoff goals, most of them in defensemen, and knocked out some of the game’s top scorers on the defensive end of the ice. The highlight for the veteran Stanley Cup Playoffs defenseman undoubtedly came in Game 4 of the semi-final series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, when the 28-year-old defenseman calmly blocked the last-second shot in the empty net to save the game and secure the 3-2 victory.
1. Matthieu Barzal
Mathew Barzal continues to grow as one of the best young players in the NHL and has been the Islanders’ top offensive player. Last season, Barzal finished second for the team in regular season goals with 17 and assists with 28. But he led the roster with 45 points and was the points leader in the playoffs of the Stanley Cup with 14 as he led an attacking unit and a top line. .
Barzal has been most impressive for the Islanders when it comes to creating scoring opportunities as the 24-year-old forward is one of the league’s fastest skaters and draws defenders to him to open the ice rink for the remainder of the shift. Last season Barzal improved even further as he became one of the best forwards on the defensive end of the ice, playing in the middle of the defensive zone and allowing turnovers to become attacking opportunities. At 24, the front-row forward will be the centerpiece of the Islanders’ future success, as the team has a young scorer who keeps improving and makes all the change better with his playmaking abilities.
Honorable mentions: Semyon Varlamov & Ilya Sorokin
Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov was excellent in goal as a starter last season, posting .929 save percentage and 2.04 goals against average on 1,020 shots received. Likewise, Ilya Sorokin, 25, exceeded expectations in his debut NHL season to help give the team one of the best goaltending pairs in the NHL last season. While Varlamov was essential to the team’s success last season, as they wouldn’t have played in their second straight semi-final without him, at 33, it’s unclear how he fits into the future plans of team and if there is a necessary piece to build around.
Sorokin, meanwhile, will likely be the goaltender of the future for the Islanders. But after a season where he has split the time in the net and was unmistakably the substitute, starting just 22 games, the front office has yet to see whether the young goalkeeper can become the centerpiece to build on.
Overall, the Islanders’ roster is more than talented enough to make another Stanely Cup run, with many skaters critical to the team’s success next season. Whether it’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau as a center on the back row, adding scoring depth for the team, or Noah Dobson continuing to emerge as one of the Islanders’ best defensemen at just The 21-year-old team has the depth and talented players that are poised to step up this coming season.
Mike Fink joined The Hockey Writers in November, but has been a reporter for several blogs since the end of the 2019-20 NHL season. While not following any specific team, Mike covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers, a team that has turned into legitimate cup contenders with Barry Trotz as head coach.