3) A loss of team identity
The hit that was most notable immediately was also the one that hurt the most.
From the beginning of the season, the Islanders not only played poorly, but just did not seem to gel or flow as well as they did. It’s not something that can quite be explained, but it was something that was felt by Islanders fans unanimously.
The team felt off.
There was no familiar energy line, a lot of key players left and new faces joined the team very rapidly. The Islanders lost a piece of who they were and failed to properly fill those gaps. In losing fan-favorite Matt Martin, the Islanders lost a huge piece of their identity and of who they were not just on the ice, but off the ice.
The losses of Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo hurt the Islanders on the scoreboard taking 135 points out of their lineup. The experience left behind by the veterans was certainly replaced with Jason Chimera and Andrew Ladd, but not enough to make a significant contribution offensively.
Despite them playing better of late, Chimera and Ladd have failed to step up in the absence of forwards Nielsen and Okposo.
In essence, these were the contributing factors to the team that was iced this season. Despite these problems being realistically fixable in one offseason, the extra year that was burned away from John Tavares‘ contract at a laughable $5.5 million salary cannot be restored.
If owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin do not come in to help repair relations soon, there’s a chance he could walk in free agency in two years.
That is an issue which can unravel this team in itself.