As the New York Islanders head into training camp for the 2017-18 season, here’s a detailed break-down of each players’ expectations.
Over the last three seasons, the New York Islanders’ offense has been a team strength, finishing 10th in the league last season for average goals scored per game, as well as 11th in 2015-16 and even fourth overall in 2014-15.
Consistent contributors include faces like Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and John Tavares, and the Islanders are expecting a boost to their offensive numbers through the maturation of rookies such as Josh Ho-Sang, Anthony Beauvillier, and Mathew Barzal to name a few.
What should the forward expectations be for each player? Here’s how it breaks down, starting with the new kid on the block:
Over/Under: 20 goals, 45 points
Josh Ho-Sang was a late-season call up for the New York Islanders. He got his feet wet in the NHL, playing in 21 games and scoring four goals and 10 points. The 21-year-old possesses lightning-fast speed, soft hands and a very good sense of positioning on the ice.
In a full-season sample, playing consistently with other rookies such as Anthony Beauvillier, Mathew Barzal and maybe some time with John Tavares on the powerplay, there’s no reason as to why Ho-Sang can’t get at least 40 points this season, and that’s not a tall order for the talented forward.
Ho-Sang’s point total should wander around the mid 40’s and climb as high as about 50 points. At only 173 pounds, Ho-Sang still needs to bulk up as to not be pushed around as much, but there’s a lot of talent brimming in the young forward.
Over/Under: 15 goals, 40 points
Playing in 66 games last season, Anthony Beauvillier potted 9 goals and 24 points in his first year in the NHL.
Unlike Ho-Sang, Beauvillier entered the NHL straight out of the QMJHL, with no experience in the AHL beforehand. The young Center/LW was often complimented by Head Coach Doug Weight for doing “the right things.” Armed with plenty of speed and puck handling skill, Beauvillier underwent a lot of maturing in the NHL last season, getting acclimated to the majors through “trial by fire” as they say.
Beauvillier shows a lot of promise in his young game, but like Ho-Sang, at just 173 pounds there’s a lot of literal growing for the forward to do. Beauvillier should graze 40 points dishing out slick one-timers to Ho-Sang on the same line, but that and a 20 goal season might be a bit of a stretch for the sophomore.
Over/Under: 15 goals, 35 points
Mathew Barzal made the 2016-17 Islanders roster right out of training camp and stuck around for 11 games, playing in only two of those contests. Unfortunately, the most notable play he made while briefly in the NHL was when he played the puck after exiting the penalty box, only to be sent straight back in.
Barzal gave off the impression that he was uncomfortable during his brief stint, and he helped shed some light into that during the offseason. From Brian Compton at NHL.com:
“Last year, I was maybe a little star-struck sometimes playing against [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Alex] Ovechkin and those guys,” Barzal recently told NHL.com. “This year, I just want to hopefully come in and not kind of feel that, just feel like I belong and that I can really play with those guys.”
To succeed in his first season, Barzal has to come in and just play. With guidance from his draft partner Beauvillier, as well as veteran leaders such as Andrew Ladd and of course John Tavares, Barzal just needs to work through the nerves of his first NHL season and play.
Barzal has one of the highest ceilings of any rookie on the Isles roster, but for 2017-18 it’ll be all about getting used to the show.
It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he eclipses 35 points by January, but it’s all a learning process. 40 points would be plenty for a rookie year.
Over/Under: 10 goals, 25 points
The long-awaited right-handed cannon of a defenseman should make his “official” debut this coming season with the departure of Travis Hamonic.
Ryan Pulock will enter the Islanders defense as an undisputed addition this season after impressing int he 2015-16 playoffs. It was believed he was a lock to start the 2016-17 season after his performance, but his coaches thought otherwise.
Pulock commented during the season saying he needed to work on his skating and defensive positioning, and while that was true at the time, it’s now Pulock time in Brooklyn.
Pulock’s 105 mph cannon of a shot (yes, it was documented at the 2015 Islanders Blue and Orange scrimmage, and since then, that Pulock’s shot can clock in at over 100 mph) will be an asset to the Islanders powerplay which suffered greatly last season (28th overall in the league).
Pulock’s biggest role on the Islanders will be to quarterback the power play, and as such his biggest point-getter will probably be goals catapulted in from the blue line and assists from those shots tipped into the net.
It won’t be unrealistic to expect at least 10 goals from the offensive defenseman, especially as a powerplay specialist. If Pulock is able to settle into his role quickly, then 10 goals will be just the beginning.