NHL Preview 2021 – New York Islanders
Great D, but Issues with Scoring
The Islanders made a strong playoff run in September. During the regular season they finished with a 35-23-10 record for 80 total points. After defeating the Florida Panthers in the play-in round for the playoffs, they made a run to the Eastern Conference Finals where they were defeated by the evtunal Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Our New York Islanders preview 2021 looks at whether or not the team is geared up for another deep playoff run this season.
The Islanders forward group has some very good players, although they did not have a huge offensive output last year. They had just two skaters finish with over 50 points on the year. Mathew Barzal returns this season as the club’s leading point getter. He had 60 points last year in 68 games. Brock Nelson had 54 points while leading the team with 26 goals. Barazal and Nelson will center the Islanders top two lines in 2021. They give the team a pretty solid one-two punch down the middle of the ice.
Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, and Jordan Eberle also project to provide the primary offense for New York. All three wingers had at least 40 points during the 2019-2020 season. Bailey and Lee each had 43 points while Eberle finished with 40. Lee was also the only other player to score at least 20 goals along with Nelson. Eberle was also a top player on the powerplay for the Islanders. He finished with 11 power play points the second highest total behind Barzal.
One player who New York hopes will find his footing on Long Island is Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Pageau was acquired from Ottawa last year but saw a dip in production after the trade. With the Senators he had 24 goals and 40 assists in 60 games played. Between his seven regular season games and 22 playoff games with the Islanders, Pageau had just 13 total points. While he looked much better in the playoffs, The Islanders would benefit greatly if he can refind the pace he was score at with Ottawa.
New York Islanders Preview 2021 – Defense
The Islanders blueline took a big hit this offseason. They saw Devon Toews traded away to Colorado. Toews played top-four minutes for New York while adding 28 points. This was the second highest point total on the team’s backend behind only Ryan Pulock’s 35 points. Pulock was the club’s most impressive defenseman last season. He played 22:24 minutes per game while maintaining a +8 plus-minus playing against opponents top players.
Adam Pelech, Nick Leddy, and Scott Mayfield will also be featured heavily. Pelech and Leddy both played over 21 minutes per game last year. Leddy compiled 21 points on the season. Pelech played a more defensive role putting up nine points but finishing with a +4 plus-minus. Mayfield finished tied for the plus-minus lead among Islanders blueliners at +8. While the Islanders don’t necessarily have a star defensemen, their blueline is capable of shutting down opponents through committee.
New York Goaltending
New York’s goaltending tandem will look different from last season. While Semyon Varlamov will return for the 2021 season, Thomas Greiss will not. Varamlov started 39 games last season and was very solid on the year. He finished with a .914 save percentage and a 2.62 GAA. He was even better in the playoffs stopping .921 percent of the shots he faced while in the bubble. Despite the strong showing, it will be vital for the Islanders to adequately replace Greiss who started 29 games last year.
Ilya Sorokin is projected to share the net with Varlamov this year. He will enter his rookie season after playing the past five years in the KHL. With CSKA Moskva last season, Sorokin compiled a 1.50 GAA and a .935 save percentage. There is promise that he could step in and be solid as a rookie. The Islanders play a very strong defensive system and has been one of the top goaltenders outside of the NHL in recent years.
New York Islanders Preview 2021: Outlook
Our New York Islanders Preview 2021 expects the team to be among the best defensive teams in the NHL once again. Despite this, they don’t look likely to make the playoffs this season. They are in a very tough division and look to have trouble scoring. While they should keep most games close, there are too many strong teams in the East Division. Look for the Islanders to miss playoffs for the first time since the 2017-2018 season.
New York Islanders Preview 2021: Prediction
Record:23-20-13, 59 points
Finish: 7th in the East Division