The New York Islanders are being buried before the season starts all around the NHL and the doubters are in store for a surprise.
Firstly, the New York Islanders will likely not make the playoffs next season, and that’s fine — the events of free agency caused several changes in approach on how the Islanders proceed.
Lamoriello currently faces scrutiny for a lack of action to address the Islanders’ defense coupled with an interesting plethora of grinders heading to Long Island.
Yet, Lou has done exactly what he set out to do in bringing a winning culture to Long Island. Lamoriello’s confidence in his staff was on full display in Brian Compton‘s evaluation of the Islanders as part of NHL.com’s 31-in-31 series:
“I’m excited about the coaching staff,” Lamoriello said. “Not only the experience there, but the winning end of it. Each one of those people behind that bench have won a championship in one area or the other, whether it be Stanley Cups, Memorial Cups, you name it. In my opinion, winning breeds winning, and that’s what you feel good about.”
There is a firm belief in the organization that structural change is what’s largely needed to realign the ship for the Islanders, and smart money should be on the 2018 Stanley Cup-winning coach.
More Than One Man
In the wake of the departure of their number-one center, the Islanders are viewed as a crippled team who just lost their offensive touch and will rapidly unravel at the seams.
This couldn’t be more of an exaggeration.
Mat Barzal will assume the duties of number-one center and that does means facing some of the league’s best shutdown pairs and forwards.
While it would be naive to expect him to repeat the Calder Trophy-winning 85-point season he just had (one more than that other guy, by the way) there’s no reason to not expect at least another 20 goals and 65 points from one of the league’s best centers.
Josh Bailey is coming off his second-consecutive career-season with 71 points and an appearance in the NHL All-Star game.
Yes, it’s true his play will likely suffer from the personnel changes, but to disregard his emergence as a primetime NHL player in the last two season is also foolish. There’s no reason Bailey can’t put up at least another 50 points next season.
The Islanders are loaded with forward talent, and that isn’t to mention the up-and-coming stud in Anthony Beauvillier and what can come of the Josh Ho-Sang saga with the Islanders this season.
What many people outside of the organization fail to understand is the deep-rooted issue the Islanders have had for some time in a true lack of accountability that pervaded throughout the entire organization.
Lamoriello’s primary objective wasn’t to build the team in the short-term while the sting of losing John Tavares hurts the most, but to prepare the organization for success for years, and hopefully decades to come.
Rushing to make moves never turns out well for the team, and Lamoriello would be one to know that better than anyone else in the league given his 30-plus years of experience.
The acquisitions made so far this offseason come more out of sudden necessity — Leo Komarov, & Valtteri Filppula are two perfect examples of that as they address the abhorrent penalty kill and center depth respectively.
As Lamoriello continues to bide his time as far as the roster goes, this Islanders squad is already good for about an extra 10 points thanks to a focus on the defensive structure that will be brought upon by Trotz and company.
The 2018-19 Islanders team is already comprised of a blend of both rookies and veterans with new faces sure to arrive sometime in the future, the Islanders aren’t rebuilding — they’re readjusting. It’s going to take some time, but this is a team getting ready to break out in time for Belmont.