The Islanders offense looks fantastic. What about the rest?

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Never mind me telling you about the Islanders. Wtf do you make of this team?

This squad sputtered out of the gate last year and posted a 17-17-8 record through 42 games under Jack Capuano. Doug Weight entered the scene as coach, and the team dominated the remaining 40 games and went 24-12-4, only to see their playoff dreams fall short by a singular point.

Here’s more fer ya: In September of last year, Jaroslav Halak was the backbone to Team Europe as they made the finals of the World Cup. But.. in December of last year Jaroslav Halak was the backbone of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL. Then.. in April Halak was the backbone of this New York Islanders team that won 6 of their last 7 games. As we speak, Halak currently sports a 5-game winning streak from last year where he allowed only 7 goals.

Want more?

The Isles have four ridiculously intriguing young forwards in Josh Ho-Sang, Anthony Beauvillier, Matthew Barzal, and Michael Dal Colle. They added Jordan Eberle. They of course have John Tavares.

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But.. they also traded Travis Hamonic, which left a just-okay defense unit now looking starkly unimpressive.

I like Thomas Greiss. I like Jaroslav Halak. It seems Doug Weight ran the squad well and the Isles look very deep on offense. But.. this team has a lot of wild cards, a weak defensive unit, and goalies who max out at acceptable.

That being said, they could prove many people wrong this year if they can roll 3 saucy forward lines.

Offensive Rating + Formula

Each player will have two ratings: a Current and Potential rating.

Josh Ho-Sang for example, is a 3+, F?. This means currently he is an offensively oriented top-9 forward, but has the potential to be a franchise player. The question mark means he may drop a rating or two, but his ceiling is high.

Click here for more about Current and Potential Ratings.

Lee 1, 1 – Tavares F+, F+ – Eberle 1, 1

Ladd 2, 1 – Nelson 2, 2 – Bailey 2, 2

Beauvillier 3+, F?? – Cizikas 3v, 3v – HoSang 3+, F?

Chimera 4, 4 – Quine 3, 3+ – Clutterbuck 4, 4

Barzal D, 1  – Dal Colle D, 1

The Islanders have an excellent core of established NHL forwards, with John Tavares, Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey. Lee scored 34 goals last year, Bailey hit 54 points, and Nelson topped 45. Those six alone make for an attack most would be happy with.

In fact, their forward group is very deep, and has plenty of talent coming up through the ranks. With the correct combination of veterans and young starpower, this team could have a devastating top-9 attack that may become a top-5 or top-10 offense. Isles fans should be thrilled with this group – and Ho-sang, Beauvillier, Dal Colle, and Barzal are far from showing what they’re capable of. They’ve got oodles of potential.

Now, wouldn’t Nino Niederreiter look appealing on that right side instead of Cal Clutterbuck?

Forward Ranking: Solid (17th of 31)

Defense Rating + Formula

Leddy 1, 1 – Boychuk 2, 2

Pelech 3, 3 – De Haan 2, 1?

Hickey 3, 3 – Seidenberg 3v, 3v

Pulock D, 2?

Either the Islanders really trust their defense, their hands were tied, or they thought getting draft picks for a top-4 right-shot defenseman was too good to pass up.

I hope it was the second one.

The Isles have a solid core with a bit of potential, but they require another top-4 defenseman to consider it serviceable in today’s NHL. If Ryan Pulock can meet that top-4 potential we’ve pegged, it wouldn’t come at a better time.

Unfortunately, though, by our metrics the Islanders have one of the weaker groups in the league.

Defense Rating: Weak (28th of 31)

Goaltending Rating + Formula

Greiss 1, 1 – Halak 1, 1

Whatever happened with Halak last year, I’ll never truly understand. But the Islanders are equipped with two competent goaltenders who can pick the other up when they falter. Neither are franchise goalies, but there are significantly worse options to have in net.

Given the youth of this team, though, they will require excellent goaltending. Luckily for the Isles, Halak has often performed well when being peppered with shots.

The Isles goaltending ranks low based on recent sample size, but this duo can certainly overachieve against that ranking.

Goaltender Rating: Weak (28th of 31)

Intrigue

Ho-Sang, Beauviller, Dal Colle, and Barzal. Where did they even come from? The Islanders offense might seriously fly under the rader the next few years.

Beauvillier, for example, scored 40 goals and 40 assists in 47 OHL games two years ago. Last year, as a 19-year old he put up 24 points in 66 games in the NHL. That’s a fantastic rate for teenager.

Michael Dal Colle has been biding his time after going 5th overall in 2014, but over his last 30 games in the OHL 2 years ago, he scored 27 goals and 28 assists, basically a goal and an assist per game. That is elite. He played a full season in the AHL last year and put up a solid 41 points in 75 games. What’s next? A point per game AHL year or a taste of the NHL?

Josh Ho-Sang is Ho-Sang – probably the most known commodity. He produced well over an assist-per-game in the OHL, but he might have a hidden goal scoring ability that his numbers don’t suggest. He impressed last year, and for me is the most valuable Islanders player not named John Tavares. Over time, Beauvillier and Barzal might be usurpers of that title, but Ho-Sang is looking rather dynamic.

5 Most Valuable Assets

John Tavares  F+, F+

Josh Ho-Sang 3+, F?

Anthony Beauvillier 3+, F??

Anders Lee 1, 1

Matthew Barzal  D, 1

Top 3 Prospects

Josh Ho-Sang 3+, F?

Matthew Barzal D, 1

Michael Dal Colle D, 1

Prediction

The Islander’s young talent at forward will paint one of two pictures:

  1. The team is more offensively skilled than people expect and they have a potent 3-line attack. They’re in the playoff push.
  2. The team is defensively unpredictable due to their age and because of a weak defense they get outshot too often and get pulverized.

I’m leaning towards option number 2. But I should not be so quick to dismiss the power this team had under Doug Weight. These guys can seriously push for the playoffs if they can overcome the loss of Hamonic.

For the record, if they still had Hamonic their defense would be in the top-20 with our rating system.

Offense: Solid (17th of 31)

Defense: Weak (28th of 31)

Goaltending: Weak (28th of 31)

Verdict: 7th in the Metropolitan Division

Playoffs: It.. could be this year. Even though our rankings don’t suggest so. Both offense and goaltending will be capable of over-performing. If they can improve their defense over the next few years, they’ll be in the playoff hunt regularly.

You can find the rest of our Franchise Previews here.

Written by hockeythoughts.ca