The New York Islanders, one of the NHL’s long-suffering franchises, a franchise that once won four straight Stanley Cups in the 1980’s, but had not won a playoff series since 1993, enjoyed a return to relevancy a year ago, finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference with 103 points. This return to prominence has been led by the likes of Brock Nelson, Matthew Barzal, Andrew Ladd, and every hockey fan’s favorite name, Cal Clutterbuck. In round one they drew the Pittsburgh Penguins, who of all teams, became their first playoff series win in 26 years. Go figure.
The Islanders held the twenty-third selection overall in round one of the 2019 NHL draft. They used that spot on right-winger Simon Holmstrom from a team called HV71 J20, which means under 20, of the Sweedish J20 Superelit league. Holmstrom is just 18 and is a very talented scorer and a long-term project for the Islanders. To begin free agency, the Islanders landed left-winger Anders Lee for seven seasons and goaltender Semyon Varlamov for four seasons. They also added center Cole Bardreau for two seasons, goaltender Jared Coreau for one season, and left-winger Derick Brassard for one season. The Islanders may have enjoyed success a year ago, but one must wonder if they can repeat that success this season.
The New York Islanders suffered through a bad 2017-2018 season, finishing the year with just 80 points, placing them somewhere near the middle of the Eastern Conference pack. The Islanders made a bold mmove this offseason, and fired head coach Doug Weight. The team owner turned to Barry Trotz for coaching duties. The primary objective for the Islanders this offseason was to try to fix a defense that ranked near the bottom in goals allowed. With the first of two first-round draft choices, the Islanders grabbed Oliver Wahlstrom, a center of the USA U-18 squad. With their second of two selections in round one, which ironically were back-to-back, they grabbed Noah Dobson, a defenseman from the Quebec Junior Hockey League. With their first of two second-round draft choices, they looked to defenseman again. Bode Wilde was their next pick, also off the USA U-18 team. They used their other second-round draft choice on another center, Ruslan Iskhakov from Russia. These are obviously selections that are considered long-range payoffs, so don’t expect anything this year from them.
The New York Islanders finished the regular season last year with a record of 94 points, that put them in a tie in the Eastern Conference alongside the Tampa Bay Lightening. Both teams missed out on the Stanley Cup Playoffs by just one point. Looking at the current state of the Islanders, they are another one of these “middle of the road” teams in the NHL. All three of their best players, center John Tavares, left winger Josh Bailey, and center Anders Lee, are in the primes of their careers. Sadly, they don't have much to show for it in terms of achievements both single and team.
During the offseason, the Islanders did almost nothing as far as changes, and had no draft picks. Their single big move was signing forward Steve Bernier for two more years. The team could use help with their “goals against average,” which ranked 23rd in the league. The second choice was used on center Ryan McLeod from the fabled Mississauga of the Ontario Hockey League, a team that has produced many a great player over the years. We will see if and when the two draft choices crack the starting lineup.
The New York Islanders were founded in 1972 and since there inception, have been either really good, or really bad. However, the Islanders are most known for one particular period of time from the late 70's to the early 1980's, in which they assembled one of the greatest hockey teams of all time. Ken Morrow, Gord Lane, Bob Nystrom, Brian Trottier, and Mike Bossy. This group of players led t he Islanders to five straight division championships- 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1982, six straight conference championships- 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983.
The most impressive feat was the four straight Stanley Cups- 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983. However since those days, the only have one division title to their credit- 1988, and over the last several decades, have been one of the NHL's lower-half teams. That has started to change though in recent times. The Islanders have done a remarkable job of assembling a good young roster the last few years.
The Islanders finished the 2014-2015 regular season this year with 101 points, tied for the fifth best record in the NHL Eastern Conference. They began the playoffs as the three seed in the lower half of the Eastern Conference bracket. Still, the future is pointing up for the Islanders.
The New York Islanders had a good 2015-2016 season. The team finished the season with exactly 100 points, which gave them the five seed in the Eastern Conference in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They were matched up with the Florida Panthers in round one, and defeated them in six games. In round two, the New York was matched up with the Tampa Bay Lightening and lost the series in five games. During the off season they extended center Casey Cizikas on a seven-year contract. The Islanders went on the free agent market looking for a forward, and they hooked one of the best as they picked up Andrew Ladd in free agency on a seven-year contract. In the draft, the team added center Kieffer Bellows in round one from the United Stated U-18 team. These moves looked good at the time, but this season has not been kind to the franchise. So far this season, New York has just 18 points, good for last place in the Eastern Conference.