Islanders; Letdown Season in the Rearview, Rebounding Quickly

It could be easily said the New York Islanders’ 2021-2022 season was a letdown. After competing at such a high level the last two years, the Isles’ played way below par the passing season, and the fans are expecting the team to return to a competition of play they once were. 

Refreshing, the Islanders’ first home game of the 2021-2022 season didn’t occur until relatively late, when all things considered. They opened their new arena in November, while many other teams had played at least 5-6 home games. It’s fair to say many hockey teams draw tire when playing so many games on the road. All the different flights and hotels add up on a skater instead of staying in the comfort of one’s home. Certainly not making excuses, but that was one of the many reasons the Isles got off to such a horrid start. 

Another big reason for the Islanders’ failures was injuries and a major COVID outbreak. COVID spread throughout the team, causing the Islanders to use skaters that weren’t NHL-ready. Besides that, big-time forward Anders Lee missed significant time from the start, leading the Islanders to scratch and claw on the power play. A dreadful power-play unit(s) leads to frustrations when a team can’t score 5-on-5. 

Lastly, and I think this is the leading failure, was the average age of the Isles. The Islanders began the 2021-2022 season campaign with the oldest roster in the NHL. When all averaged and solved mathematically, they were around 28.9 years old. With skaters on the team like Zdeno Chara, Andy Greene, Zach Parise, Matt Martin, and Cal Clutterbuck, the Islanders were destined to run into roadblocks sooner rather than later. 

The Islanders’ multiple runs to the cup needed some necessary veteran leadership. During one season, they acquired Andy Greene at the trading deadline. Next, they acquired both Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. The three skaters provided some relief that the Islanders lacked at the time. 

It was apparent the Islanders didn’t have much cap space following the 2021 season, which is why they moved in the direction they did. They signed veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara and forward Zach Parise to one-year contracts. The move to sign both veterans was a low-risk move, which ultimately didn’t pay off. Chara was a liability at the point, a shell of what he was in Boston, and Zach Parise only posted 35 points in 82 games. Him playing every game is a highlight in itself. The third time in his career, he’s done so. However, if taking part in every game, the fans expect more. 

Fast-forward an entire season, and the Islanders finished with 84 points, not enough to participate in the NHL playoffs. The team didn’t stand out among the others, losing critical games down to the stretch even to have a glimmer of hope to play in the postseason. 

When the Islanders’ season ended, so did Barry Trotz’s tenure as the head coach. Where he goes next is to be seen. As for where the Islanders went next for a head coach, that was solved quickly. They promoted Lane Lambert to the head coach. Lane has been with the Islanders’ organization for a while, spending the last four years as the associate head coach. Lambert also has time spent with Nashville and Washington. His recent promotion to head coach is his first stint in an NHL head coaching position. 

As for the Islanders draft, they traded away their 13th overall draft pick to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Alexander Romanov. It seems clear the Islanders are trying to get younger while trying to stay competitive. Romanov has just a single year in the NHL under his belt. His stats are nothing to brag about, a -9 on the ice with 13 points last season. With the stable blue line, the Islanders have, though, he should find his way nicely if kept on the team. 

With the NHL free agency ending, rumors are being spread galore. Will the Islanders trade for an elite skater to bring them back to the Eastern Conference Finals? Only time will tell. As for something in the immediacy, the Islanders have a decision to make on Noah Dobson and Kieffer Bellows. Both skaters are RFA’s. The team has about $11 million to use, and I think some of that should be spent on Bellows. Granted, his NHL resume doesn’t spell out anything tremendous. I believe he still deserves a legitimate shot and wouldn’t be too costly if the Isles ink him down to a contract. 

Noah Dobson and his recent breakout season are more than deserving of an offer. 13 goals and 38 assists placed Dobson third on the team in the ranks of total points. The question is if the Islanders are willing to spend more than 11 million on defensemen. With Dobson’s recent emergence, he’ll be looking for something in the 4-5 million per year. 

With the Islanders’ limited amounts in cap space, one shouldn’t expect them to be too active in signing marquee names. With that said, I believe Lou Lamoriello will be plenty busy trying to trade one or two of the Islanders’ assets. One rumor was current Vancouver Canuck and former New York Ranger JT Miller coming over via trade, but those rumors have since dwindled. 

With the summer comes plenty of excitement. The Islanders have much to do, and I expect a more hungry hockey team come October. 

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

The boys are back after a long break but have plenty to talk about as the playoffs are in full swing. We go series by series, looking at how teams have fared so far and who will come out on top. Thanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Stanley Cup Aspirations
  2. The Final Countdown
  3. Here Come the Playoffs
  4. Home Stretch
  5. Kevy Cooks

Nicholas Mott

Big Time Ranger fan. I one time met Jaromir Jagr. I think that automatically makes me cool.

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