In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Fifth up is the New York Islanders who, much like the Florida Panthers, looked promising 2 years ago but recent moves lead me to believe they are headed in the wrong direction short term.
2016-2017 NHL Standings: 17th
Eastern Conference Standings: 10th
Metropolitan Division Standings: 5th
Goals for Rank: 10th
Goals against Rank: 23rd
Overview: New York Islanders were in the playoff hunt last year before they fell apart, their coach got fired and they spiraled down the standings through the final stretch. Over the summer, they sent Las Vegas Golden Knights their 1st round pick to protect Brock Nelson and Calvin de Haan. Ouch. Not only will it be tough to adapt to a new coaching style but I want to echo in on the Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome trade because I am vehemently against what the Islanders did here. I know Ryan Strome has gone markedly down to a 28 and 30 point seasons from his 50 point season in 2014-2015 but I really felt like Strome had 50+ point potential as a regular producer. At 24 years old he had the best years ahead meanwhile they get 27 year old Jordan Eberle who has quite a few seasons of 50+ points but he's been playing alongside 3-4 number one picks on a given year and his soft play in the playoffs last year with Edmonton just firms up how soft and frustratingly inconsistent he can be as a player. The Islanders were 10th in goals scored but they had 4 guys shooting over 15% which is rare and I think unsustainable this year. The team sits in, what proved to be, the toughest division in 2016-2017. Furthermore, I'm flat out not sold on their defensive capabilities and goalie situation. This Thomas Greiss Jaroslav Halak combination is below average at best. Finally, the elephant in the room, John Tavares has not resigned. This is smart on his part as he has the Islanders in full ransom mode but I fear this will unfold as a self-mutilating prophecy more than a self-propelling prophecy as the Islanders will struggle between cap room (which they have struggled with and just recently got some breathing room) and trying to prove to John Tavares that they are invested in helping him succeed. All of this said, they have one of the strongest prospect lists coupled with draft picks in 2018 draft which means they have a good chance at rebounding in 2018-2019.
Major Additions: Jordan Eberle
Major Subtractions: Travis Harmonic, Ryan Strome
Prospects and Picks:
-Michael Dal Colle - The 5th overall pick in 2014 has done what most defensemen in the NHL do, take longer than anticipated to completely mature, adapt and prepare themselves for a chance at the big leagues. He has size, he has skill, he has positioning strength he has grit, but he lacks some important attributes such as strong skating, attitude and intangibles.
-Mathew Barzal - the 16th overall pick in 2015 had 79 points in 41 games with the WHL last year before a 2 game stint with New York. His ceiling is remarkably high but what remains unseen is if he's ready for the step up. This is one of those difficult - could be 15 points could be 45 type of situations entering the 2017-2018 NHL season. He's young and very talented and possess the capabilities to come in swinging given a quick adaption and the backing of the Islanders in top 6 playing time coupled with some Power Play time.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-Anthony Beauvillier, the 28th overall pick in 2015 logged in 66 games last year with 9 goals and 15 assists. That was with 3rd line minutes which should adjust up to top 6 minutes and I think this means he bumps up to a 40 point player. His shooting % was low (9%) and he didn't get much time on the Power Play.
-Mathew Barzal (see above) could be a 30+ point player too.
They currently have around $9.3MM in cap space with 20 players signed
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 27th
Eastern Conference Standings: 15th
Metropolitan Division: 8th
NHL 28th: Vancouver Canucks (Western Conference 13th; Pacifc Division 7th)
NHL 29th: Florida Panthers (Eastern Conference 16th; Atlantic Division 8th)
NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)
NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)