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What Went Wrong: New York Islanders

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Welcome to the What Went Wrong section where we take a look at every team that didn’t make it to the playoffs. We also end each article by highlighting some of the players of particular interest in the roster. These are players who either left a lot to be desired during the 2021-2022 campaign, or have significant untapped potential, or have major questions linked to them in the off-season.

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We have already considered Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes, Seattle Kraken, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, chicago blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabers, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharksand Columbus Blue Jackets. Today we’re looking at the New York Islanders.

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We can’t talk about the Islanders season without first mentioning the pandemic. Every team has had to deal with COVID, but that doesn’t mean all teams have had to deal with it the same way. Having reached the Conference Finals in consecutive campaigns (technically the Semi-Finals in 2021), the Islanders have led a respectable 5-2-2 this season. However, they contracted COVID earlier than most teams, and while this eventually led to the postponement of games, the Islanders were initially simply forced to play without many of their key players.

Under these unique circumstances, the islanders collapsed. They lost 11 games in a row from November 7 to December. 5, downgrading them to 5-10-5. Finally, with the Islanders situation still a problem and the rest of the league also facing the pandemic, the Islanders have rescheduled eight games from December 20 to January. 11. For the most part, they were a tight-knit team for the rest of the season, but not good enough to get out of that early hole, especially given how tough the Eastern Conference was. The Washington Capitals received the last Wild Card seed with a record of 44-26-12. The Islanders were the next best team, but that still left them well out of the playoffs with a 37-35-10 record.

However, we cannot blame the pandemic for all the troubles of the islanders. For years, their crime has been lackluster, and in the summer of 2021, they did nothing to address the issue. Instead, things got worse. Jordan Eberle was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft and was an offensive quarterback. Nick Leddy transferred to Detroit. In another team, these losses would not have been so significant, but the Islanders’ attack was initially weak.

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As a result, 83 players reached the 60-point milestone in 2021-22, and none of them played for the Islanders. Brock Nelson did score 37 goals, but he was one of two players (second Anders Lee) to even score 20 goals. The Islanders were averaging 2.79 goals per game, placing them in the bottom third of the league on offense and giving them little margin for error.

It made the goalkeeper Semyon VarlamovThe far from perfect 2021-2022 campaign is more of a problem than it could be. He had a record of 10-17-2, 2.91 GAA and a .911 shooting percentage in 32 games. Ilya Sorokin picked up the slack and even got a few votes for the Vezina Trophy, but the Islanders were really built around having a top-notch goaltender almost every night, and they didn’t get it.

At this point, we usually look to the future and talk about what changes have been made and what kind of young players will appear, but for the islanders, everything is a bit strange in this regard. There are several young players in New York, most notably Noah Dobsonwho is preparing to become a fantastic defender, Matthew Barzalwho has not developed into the star he initially appeared to be, but is nonetheless one of the top six hitters, and Ilya Sorokinwho looks to be one of the best goalkeepers of his generation.

At the same time, though, the Islanders are basically a veteran team, and to be honest, that veteran group doesn’t look like enough to win a championship or even come close, especially when compared to the lineup that the Colorado Avalanche just won. Stanley Cup. So what do the islanders do? Blow it up and focus on the future with the likes of Barzal, Dobson and Sorokin as a base to rebuild or attempt a smaller refit? As long as it’s GM Lou Lamoriellothe approach was to do very little.

At the time of writing, his last exchange was on November 4, 2021. The Islanders have the 13th overall pick in the 2022 draft, but with only five picks, so they’re not exactly in an ideal position to restock. The Islanders also don’t have a major UFA this summer, so it’s entirely possible they’ll have much of the same roster in 2022-23.

In fact, the biggest change at the moment is their coaching. Islanders unexpectedly parted ways with the bench Barry Trotz 9th May. Although they clearly did not do well this season, much of the team’s success in recent years has been attributed to Trotz. He was considered to be instrumental in making the islanders more than the sum of their parts. Lane Lambert As the new head coach, he will have a lot of work to do, although, to be honest, he has an extensive resume and more than deserves the opportunity to show what he is capable of.

Who knows, had it not been for the pandemic that hit the Islanders early in the season, they might have made the playoffs despite their shortcomings. Maybe I’m being too harsh on a team that, after their success in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, deserves the chance to roll back and play the campaign under normal conditions. Or maybe the 2021-2022 campaign just shed light on the weaknesses that the Islanders already had, just below the surface. Weaknesses that, if ignored, will simply continue to plague the islanders and prevent them from achieving greatness.

Players to watch:

Noah Dobson – The highlight of the Islanders 2021-22 campaign was Noah Dobson. He played a limited number of roles for the Islanders in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, but this season he really took off. He had 13 goals and 51 points in 81 games, averaging 21:28 minutes. In particular, he was instrumental in the Islanders’ power play that saw him score 22 of those points. It’s worth noting that while the Islanders were a weak team on offense, they finished a respectable 12th in the league, converting 22.1% of their powerplay opportunities. Dobson helped them with this, and he is only 22 years old. However, he is now a restricted free agent and it will be interesting to see what the outcome of these negotiations will be. Will the Islanders sign him to a long-term contract, believing he will be the cornerstone of their franchise for years to come, or will they err on the side of caution? After the 2021-22 campaign, there isn’t much to look at on his resume and while his potential is clear, they may end up agreeing to a bridge deal to give him more time to shine.

Semyon VarlamovSemyon Varlamov Last season wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t a bad year either. However, the 2022/23 campaign will be interesting for him. In this moment Ilya Sorokin seems to have established himself as a starting goalkeeper, but Varlamov is certainly not a typical understudy. Will Varlamov force the Islanders into a 1A/1B situation? Keep in mind that Varlamov is entering the final season of his four-year, $20 million contract, so this season will have a special meaning for him. He’ll also be an obvious candidate for a trade at the deadline if the Islanders don’t bounce back next season.

Matthew Barzal – At the beginning of his career, it seemed that the Islanders might have another John Tavares on hand in Matthew Barzal. Granted, Barzal didn’t enter the league with the same hype as Tavares, but he was a respected player and excelled in his rookie season with 22 goals and 85 points in 82 games. He now has five full seasons under his belt and this rookie campaign remains his best. In the 2021/22 season, he has 15 goals and 59 points in 73 games. It’s better than most, but the Islanders were hoping for more than just above average when he signed a three-year, $21 million contract. They signed him in the hope that he could be their striker and that’s exactly what they need to have him next season. He is entering the final season of this deal, so the 2022-23 campaign will be important to Barzal’s financial future, among other things.

Brock NelsonBrock Nelson usually in the top six strikers, but in 2021/22 he stood out with 37 goals and 59 points in 72 games. But can he do it again? His 21.6 percent shooting was well above his career average, and he risks regressing even slightly next season. Considering how meek their insult was, even with Nelson’s performance like that, this is worrying. Either the Islanders will have to make additions this summer, or others may have to make up for the slack.


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