The Islanders have solved all the problems in the offseason. The club is ready to chase the Stanley Cup
In the 21st century, many hockey fans are used to the New York Islanders being a rather dull and boring team when it comes to ice performance. At the turn of the millennium, the club experienced serious management problems, which was reflected in the results. The Islanders entered the new millennium after another change of owners with hopes for the revival of the team, which, however, were shattered already at the stage of the first round of the playoffs for three years (until recently it was the longest series of Islanders’ participation in the playoffs in the XXI century), and then completely disappeared along with the fans in the stands. From the already small fan base of the club, it seemed that only the most devoted fans remained, many of whom caught the golden era of the “islanders” with Mike Bossy , Brian Trottierand Denis Potvin , who won four Stanley Cups in a row, and must have missed the old days.
For non-NHL fans, the Islanders may be associated with the name of Rick Dipietro , who was selected as number one in the 2000 draft ahead of Dani Heatley and Marian Gaborik and, having received a contract for as much as 15 years in 2006, ended up with great sport in 2013.
As for the rest, there were not so many famous players in the “islanders” – apart from the well-known Russian spectators Alexei Yashin , Oleg Kvasha , Viktor Kozlov , Alexei Zhitnik , Evgeny Nabokov and Ruslan Fedotenko , not so many names come to mind. John Tavares , Kyle Okposo , Bill Guerin , Michael Pecka , Frans Nielsen , Miroslav Shatan , Mark Streit – perhaps this is the end of the list of more or less famous hockey players who played on Long Island in the 2000s and early 2010s.
Over the years, the Islanders have been in the vast shadow of their neighbors not only from Manhattan from the Rangers, but even from Newark, near the Big Apple, where New Jersey play their matches. The team’s ongoing playing problems and its unsuccessful attempts to move from the old Nassau Coliseum hit the club’s image in the eyes of both outside hockey fans and their own fans.
In 2016, the club for the first time in the new millennium crossed the threshold of the first round of the playoffs, but this event was followed by two more years without the participation of the “islanders” in the Stanley Cup. The departure of captain John Tavares should have been a huge blow for the team at the end of the 2017/2018 season. The Islanders received absolutely no compensation for their best player, and the Canadian moved to Toronto as an unrestricted free agent, saying that he would have a better chance of winning the Stanley Cup with the Maple Leafs. If only he knew how things would turn out …
In parallel with the approaching departure of Tavares, a new star was lit in the club – Matthew Barzal , and in the offseason, the club managed to get Lou Lamorello , who became the general manager of the team, and soon Barry Trotz , who had just led Washington to the first Stanley Cup in the club’s history. John’s move to Toronto has led to some serious criticism of Lamorello, but hardly any of the Islanders fans today have any questions about his work.
Three years is not always a sufficient time to judge the work done, but the success of the “islanders” during this time is visible to the naked eye.
Already in the first season under the leadership of Trotz, the Islanders finished fourth in the Eastern Conference and achieved a repetition of their best result in the 21st century, beating Pittsburgh in the first round 4-0, but then also losing dry to Carolina.
The Long Island squad did not stop there. Over the past two seasons, the Islanders have consistently been in the top four NHL teams, losing only to future title holders from the Tampa Bay Lightning in the most bitter struggle.
The Islanders are a team without stars, ”many hockey fans will say and may be right (after a luxurious debut season, the aforementioned Barzal is not happy with stability). However, during his time at the helm of the team, Trotz managed to put together a very combat-ready squad, which, even without loud names, gives very good results.
The balance of the islanders’ links was excellent throughout the playoffs. The team painlessly suffered the loss of captain Anders Lee, who missed most of the season due to injury. This was most revealingly seen in the confrontation with Boston. Unlike the Bruins, which did not find worthy support for the Pastrnyak-Bergeron-Marchand trio, the New Yorkers invested not only the top combinations in the final result, but also the bottom ones, especially Jean-Gabriel Pajot , who played well both in attack, and defensively, and Kyle Palmieri, who could have left the club this offseason.
And here Lou Lamorello came in. The 78-year-old made a very good deal in April, which saw Palmieri join the Islanders and Travis Zeyjak , who also played a major playoff role, including being nominated for the season’s best general manager.
In the offseason, Lamorello had to work hard to keep both Kyle and the other leading Islanders players, as there were a lot of hockey players with expiring contracts and little spare funds. Lou received a kind of “help” from Seattle – in the expansion draft, the “Kraken” was taken from the “islanders” Jordan Eberle and his contract with an average annual salary of $ 5.5 million.
Shortly before the opening of the free agent market, the New Yorkers general manager got rid of two more weighty contracts – Andrew Ladd , giving him and several more draft picks to Arizona, and Nick Leddy , who was traded to Detroit for a choice in the second round of the draft. -2021, and Richard Panic .
As a result, the Islanders freed up $ 14 million, after which Lamorello began to spend the money that appeared and did it wisely. The contracts with Adam Pelech and Casey Sizikas were extended on excellent terms for the club . The defender, against the backdrop of madness with new contracts for his colleagues in the role, could have asked for a much larger amount, but he signed up for a modest by today’s standards for a player of this level, $ 5.75 million a year, and even for eight years. The forward, according to insiders, wanted to receive at least $ 5 million a year, but after negotiations he moderated his appetite and agreed to $ 2.5 million, signing the six-year contract.
Three-year bridge contracts for Ilya Sorokin and Anthony Beauvillier can also be called successful for the “islanders”($ 4 million and $ 4.15 million per year, respectively), as well as a four-year agreement with Kyle Palmieri for an average annual salary of $ 5 million.
The Islanders now surpass the ceiling by $ 3.73 million, but with the addition of 37-year-old defender Johnny Boychuck to the long-term injury list , who has not appeared on the ice since the 2019/2020 season, they will have another $ 2.27 million. -that (perhaps the whole) amount will go to the salary of striker Zach Parise , who, according to recent reports, has agreed on a contract with the “islanders”.
Lou Lamorello and the Islanders have managed to solve all the major problems this offseason. The Islanders have retained most of the main backbone. With the departure of Eberle, they are quite able to cope with the help of Lee who returned to the cage (Palmieri will probably go to the right flank), the acquired Panic and the growing Oliver Wallström , who will probably be assigned a more serious role next season. The loss of Leddy, in my opinion, is the most tangible for the Islanders, but Trotz, given his ability to build a game on defense, must also cope with it.
Looking back at the changes in the line-up of the favorites of the future championship, we can assume that the “islanders” will again aim at the highest goals. The Islanders are progressing from year to year and are absolutely ready to chase the Stanley Cup. This team is definitely capable of reaching at least the final.