NHL Season Recap – New York Islanders

New York Islanders

2016-17 season: 41-29-12, 94 points

Did not qualify for playoffs

Head Coach: Doug Weight (2017)
5th place Metro Division General Manager: Garth Snow (2006)
9th Place Eastern Conference AHL Affiliate: Bridgeport Sound Tigers

ECHL Affiliate: Missouri Mavericks

Draft Position: Will have the 15th greatest odds in the NHL Draft Lottery

Top Forwards

POS Age Name GP Points Goals Assists +/- CF%
C 26 John Tavares 77 66 28 38 4 52.9
RW 27 Josh Bailey 82 56 13 43 5 50.7
LW 26 Anders Lee 81 52 34 18 9 52.5
LW 25 Brock Nelson 81 45 20 25 -6 45.2
LW 37 Jason Chimera 82 33 20 13 1 45.0
LW 31 Andrew Ladd 78 31 23 8 -14 47.2
RW 23 Ryan Strome 69 30 13 17 -8 45.9
C 25 Casey Cizikas 59 25 8 17 9 47.5
LW 19 Anthony Beauvillier 66 24 9 15 1 44.2
LW 30 Nikolai Kulemin 72 23 12 11 3 46.7

Top Defensemen

POS Age Name GP Points Goals Assists +/- CF%
D 25 Nick Leddy 81 46 11 35 -3 47.8
D 25 Calvin de Haan 82 25 5 20 15 48.0
D 33 Johnny Boychuk 66 23 6 17 11 49.1
D 35 Dennis Seideberg 73 22 5 17 25 47.5
D 27 Thomas Hickey 76 20 4 16 -1 47.8

Top Goaltenders

POS Age Name Games Started W/L Record Shutouts GAA Save %
G 31 Thomas Greiss 49 26-18-5 3 2.69 .913
G 31 Jarslav Halak 26 12-9-5 2 2.80 .915
G 25 Jean-Francois Berube 7 3-2-2 0 3.42 .889

Trades Made During the Season

  • The Islanders made no trades during the season

Impending Free Agents

POS Age Name 2016-17 Cap Hit
C 30 Ben Holmstrom $800,000
C 35 Bracken Kearns $800,000
G 22 Jean-Francois Berube $675,000
RW 32 Steve Bernier $600,000
RW 40 Eric Boulton $575,000
RW 33 Stephen Gionta $575,000

Draft Needs

  • The Islanders have just five picks in the upcoming draft and will need to use their picks wisely in order to continue building their roster.  They have taken a forward in the first round each of the past three drafts, including two each in 2014 and 2015.  As a result, it is time to now start addressing their shortcomings on the blueline considering a lot of their struggles this season stemmed from their defense.

What I Said About Them Before the Season

  • I questioned basically every move that GM Garth Snow made last offseason in regards to his roster.  Letting Kyle Okposo go and then signing Andrew Ladd to replace him was already a letdown and it will only continue to get worse as Ladd ages.  Similarly, the Isles let Frans Nielsen walk and signed veteran Jason Chimera even though Chimera if four years older. They also allowed bottom six forward Matt Martin to sign with Toronto and the Islanders lost some depth as a result.  I also brought up the lack of a decision in regards to their goaltending situation where Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss figured to split starts and Jean-Francois Berube was waiting in the depths.  I projected that the Islanders would struggle to get back to the playoffs this season as a result of their player personnel moves.

Success/Failure

  • Failure – The Islanders should be a playoff team every season, especially considering they have one of the most talented players in the league in John Tavares.  Instead, they are wasting his prime years and need to do a better job of building a roster around him in order to capitalize on his talent.  His contract is up after next season and he has expressed a desire to stay with the Islanders but I think that the front office needs to do everything possible to convince him that they are all-in.  The Islanders started off the season with a 17-17-8 record which ultimately cost head coach Jack Capuano his job and was replaced by Doug Weight.  The team turned it around following the coaching change as they had a record of 24-12-4 record over the remainder of the season and nearly earned a playoff berth.  There were a lot of reasons for the team’s struggles this season, with a lot of them stemming from a lack of talent on the blueline in my opinion. They managed to be a top ten scoring team but were also a bottom ten goals against team with a negative goal differential.  They struggled on the powerplay with a conversion rate of under 15% yet had the 11th best penalty kill.  In terms of puck possession, the Islanders were horrible, with a Corsi For of just 47.5%, fourth worst in the league.  They did, however, manage to have a PDO of 100.5, largely the result of a high shooting percentage that they rode throughout the season.  I can’t tell what impact the coaching change had on these metrics but it has to be assumed that Doug Weight can have a positive impact on them in a full season.  They did have some positives this season, however, as Thomas Greiss stepped up as a regular starting goaltender, and they got surprise production from Josh Ho-Sang, who finally arrived after being a touted prospect since he was drafted in the first round of the 2014 draft.

Offseason Needs

  • The Islanders have very little decisions to make in terms of free agents this offseason which is both good and bad.  It’s good because they don’t have to devote much time or attention to determining which players to keep and it’s bad because the roster that didn’t make the playoffs this season will largely be the same one they return with in the fall unless trades occur.  They need to make decisions on goaltender Jean-Francois Berube and defenseman Calvin De Haan, both of whom figure to be in the team’s long-term plans.  The issue is that they have just over $2 million in cap space next season and De Haan was paid just under $2 million this past season. Even if he re-signed for the same amount, which he shouldn’t do, that would leave the team with virtually no cap space to re-sign Berube.  To me, this means that they have to find a way to shed some salary this offseason, either through the Expansion Draft or through trades.  A major candidate for this will be goalie Jaroslav Halak, who has one year left on his deal with a cap hit of $4.5 million.  Nikolai Kulemin could also be a candidate for being moved and there is a chanced that Mikhail Grabovski could find himself on the LTIR next year if his injury issues don’t ease.  I think that no matter what, Garth Snow has to find a way to bring in a defenseman to shore up their issues on the blueline.  If they could find the cap space, Kevin Shattenkirk would be a prime target for the team as he would probably have an interest in playing for them and they could certainly use him.  Lastly, they need to finally make a decision regarding their goaltending situation, but that will be eased if they can move Halak.  They also need to be able to trust in their ability to develop prospects because they could use more depth at forward and they have several talented prospects in the minors with high potential.

*All stats and information came from hockey-reference.com, rosterresource.com, spotrac.com, NHL.com, hockeydb.com, capfriendly.com, tsn.ca, and eliteprospects.com*

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