New York Islanders Season Preview, Part 3: Prudent Questions
Brad Penner, USATSI

Bloggers, journalists, and superfans answer all the pressing questions surrounding the New York Islanders upcoming season.

When they’re not getting blamed for Jack Capuano‘s decision-making, the team’s bloggers and journalists are working their tails off to inform the fanbase of everything related to the New York Islanders.

Very few people know the team better — okay, so we included a couple of superfans, too — than these guys. Instead of boring you with (yet) another season preview, we decided to ask those who know the team best — from Jiggs McDonald of MSG to Craig Richardson of Blue and Orange Army — about the 2016-17 season.

Here’s what we learned:

Will John Tavares have constantly changing linemates this season? — Jiggs McDonald, Hall of Fame Broadcaster

“Even Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy had a revolving left winger. I’m positive the coaching staff will experiment with a series of combinations with John. There’ll be times when the opponent will dictate who Jack wants on either side of the captain too. John makes whoever plays on his line better overall. They have to be ready to play against the other team’s best.”

Will the Isles miss Nielsen, Okposo and Martin? — Matt Di Giacomo, Elite Sports NY

“The Islanders won’t miss Kyle Okposo too much. Andrew Ladd‘s signing provides [the team with] a similar caliber player with a more consistent track record and two Stanley Cup rings to boot. I expect with Tavares centering him, Ladd can easily become a player who scores 30 goals and 60 points a season.

Frans Nielsen on the other hand is a different story. He has been the most consistent Islander in the past decade (aside from Tavares, obviously). He killed penalties, worked the powerplay, and centered the second line for years. Anthony Beauvillier seems to be the candidate best suited to fit the hole Nielsen left behind, and if all goes well, he will grow nicely into that role.”

Will Ryan Strome bounce back? — Joseph Bondi, Knights of Cups

“Ryan Strome should be one of the, if not the most motivated Islanders player on the roster this season. He waited until the 11th hour to re-sign a 3-year deal. His 28 points last season pales in comparison to the previous season where he posted highs in goals (17), assists (33) and points (50). With the departure of Frans Neilsen, it’s imperative that Strome make the noise he is capable of. I think he will start strong, taper off and finish with a flourish to help the Isles compete in the playoffs. Basically, its put up or shut up time for him. I think he knows that.”

How effective will the fourth line be? — Eric Bordin, Isles Insight

“I think the Isles are looking for something a little different out of the fourth line this year. Last year and the past few the Isles looked to that line to shake things up. Now, I think they want to really roll four lines. Now, don’t get me wrong; I know the fourth line is not going to score as much as the JT line, but at the same time, while they might still expect some physical play, I think the Islanders are looking more for some offense out of that line rather than just stirring things up. I think they will be effective but in a different way than what we have become accustomed to.”

Will Barzal and Beauvillier produce? — Joe Buono, IslesBlog

“Barzal and Beauvillier have shown in Training Camp that they have the skill set to play at the NHL level, but at just nineteen, it’s hard to expect that they can demonstrate the consistency that an 82-game season requires. The first nine games is a tryout for them, but also a unique competition between each other to see who can stick around longer. It’s unfortunate that neither have the eligibility to play at Bridgeport because that’s where I feel both would have become most prepared for taking the leap to the NHL. If one of them stick, my pick is Beauvillier because of his ability to play responsible two-way hockey so early in his career — something Jack Capuano values a lot.”

Which players will notch personal achievements/records? — Eric Hornick, NYI Skinny

The big question here is how high John Tavares can go?

Tavares begins the year with career totals of 207-264-471. Among Islanders, that ranks him 10th all-time in goals, 13th in assists and 12th in points.

JT needs only 32 goals to move into 7th overall and 43 goals to become the 7th with at least 250. Both are reachable this season.

Only 9 Islanders have recorded 300 assists; JT needs 36 to get there. While it is a reach for one season, Tavares needs only 65 assists to pass Pat Flatley for 6th all-time.

The five guys ahead of Flatley share 20 Islander Stanley Cup rings.

Tavares needs 29 points to reach 500, which would also allow him to pass Derek King (499) for 10th all-time. A 74-point season would push him to 7th all-time, while 96 points would get him to 6th.

Here’s one you might not know. Tavares has 36 game winning goals, which is already 8th in Islander history; he needs just three more to get into the top 5 all-time, and if he matches his career high of eight GW goals in a season he would tie Denis Potvin for 3rd with 44.

Among players not named Tavares:

Josh Bailey needs 7 goals for 100 and 43 games for 600. Josh will be the 13th Islander to reach 600 games.
Johnny Boychuk needs 2 assists for 100 NHL assists and 37 games for 500 NHL games.
Jason Chimera, who owns the longest ironman streak among any current Islander (105 games), is 49 games shy of 1,000 NHL games and needs 31 points to reach 400 NHL points.
Casey Cizikas needs 10 games for 300 and 18 points for 100.
Cal Clutterbuck needs 4 goals for 100 NHL goals and 28 games for 600 NHL games.
• Calvin deHaan is 11 games shy of 200.
Jaroslav Halak begins the season with exactly 200 wins, earning the milestone in the game he was hurt last March vs. Pittsburgh. His next shutout will be the 40th of his NHL career.
Travis Hamonic is 5 games shy of 400.
• Nikolay Kulemin is 16 games shy of 600 NHL games.
• Andrew Ladd needs 31 games for 800 NHL games and 34 points for 500 NHL points.
Nick Leddy needs 23 points to reach 100 as an Isle and 30 assists to reach 200 for his NHL career.
Anders Lee needs 7 points to reach 100 while Ryan Strome needs only 4 for the same milestone.

How long will Seidenberg last in the NHL before Pulock/Pelech replaces him? — Craig Richardson, Blue and Orange Army

“Tough to say. Depends on his performance, but I’m definitely expecting big things otherwise it will be a short stay. I think we have to wait to see how things work out with current roster.”

Will the Parenteau move come back to bite the Isles? — Andy Graziano, SNY

“The Islanders have trended more towards being a team built on speed and transition, as seen over the last two or three years. P.A Parenteau just does not fit that bill. The Islanders gave him a low risk look during training camp and did not like what they saw in terms of transition and turnovers, even before John Tavares arrived from the World Cup. With his departure, it opens the door wide for Anthony Beauvillier, Matt Barzal or Alan Quine to take the bull by the horns. Will they is the eternal question that only they will ultimately have the answer to. But it should be refreshing for fans to see that the camp competition line was not just talk this year, it actually played out.”

Who will claim the starting goaltending job? — Larry Brooks, NY Post

“I think it will be won by Halak, who is one of the league’s most overlooked and underrated goaltenders.”

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.