NHL Projections: New York Islanders Lineup
The New York Islanders were a pretty good team last season, but lost some key players this offseason. I think they have gotten worse. They lost Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin, but added P.A. Parenteau, Andrew Ladd, and Jason Chimera. I think Ladd is an upgrade, but the other two are downgrades. The Islanders were a wild card team last year, and I think that's what they'll be this year at best. They might be in danger of missing the playoffs. It's probably going to come down to them and Philly for the last spot, and I think Philly might win out. Unless Jaroslav Halak really steps up in goal, and their top players really take over and have huge seasons, I think New York might be in trouble this year. Here is what I think their lineup will look like at the start of the season. This is just a guess, not much is set in stone with this team. They have a lot of players that could be slotted in different spots. The fourth line is about the only line set in stone.
Calvin de Haan-
The Islanders have a lot of good forwards, but it remains to be seen where they play. The fourth line is pretty much set in stone, but other than that I think things will be moving around. John Tavares is the best player on the team and obviously the number one center, and Andrew Ladd is their big free agent acquisition; he'll be the top left wing. Other than that things are up for grabs. Mikhail Grabovski is still dealing with concussion issues and almost certainly won't be ready for the start of the season. Either Ryan Strome or Brock Nelson will take his place as second line center, right now I think Nelson will. That leaves Strome on the right wing and Anders Lee on the left. The third line will be centered by a young kid, right now it looks like Mathew Barzal. Two veterans will play on the kid's wings; Nikolay Kulemin on the left and Josh Bailey on the right. Overall this forward group is not as good as last year, but still solid.
The defense in New York is in pretty good shape. They have three really good defensemen, and three who are decent but belong in the four through six spots. The top pair of Nick Leddy and Travis Hamonic is very good. Hamonic is a shut down defender, and Leddy is good at both ends of the ice. The second pair is also pretty good. Johnny Boychuck could easily be on the top pair, but he'll play in the third spot with Calvin de Haan to his left. The final pair is Thomas Hickey and Ryan Pulock. Both are solid players, but slotted in the right spots at five and six.
The goaltending situation is very interesting. Jaroslav Halak will be the starter, and Thomas Greiss the backup. It's interesting because Greiss was very good last season when Halak went down with an injury, and Halak has been very inconsistent over the course of his career. If he gets off to a bad start, Greiss could step in as the number one. I think goaltending is a question mark with this team. Halak has never proven to be franchise goalie over a long period of time, and Greiss has been a solid backup in recent years. Goaltending could become an issue for the Islanders. I'm not saying it will, but it's a possibility.