It’s been a Summer of uncertainty, trades, and excitement for the Islanders. So, let’s get right into it with…
The Trades of the Early Summer
Straight up. 1 for 1. Minor blockbuster (which is an oxymoron I know…). These are just some of the ways you could sum up this trade. On June 22nd, news broke that Jordan Eberle would be coming to Brooklyn for Ryan Strome. Eberle, a winger, will fill an integral role for the team that has been lacking. This role is a high-class winger for Tavares. Many may look at Eberle’s age of 27 and say that the Islanders lost this trade since Strome is three years younger. I would disagree. The Islanders needed point production in an instant. This is because John Tavares’ contract is expiring soon and the Islanders need to do everything they can to make a case for him to stay and the addition of Eberle’s point production is that. The only downside to this trade for the Islanders is Eberle’s contract. Going for 6 million a year, he is 3.5 million dollars more expensive than Strome. Now, Jordan Eberle accumulated 51 points last year compared to Strome’s 30 points. So, the question is, is 3.5 million dollars worth 21 points? I believe if you look into the Islanders’ situation, yes it is worth it. Everything in this trade goes back to Tavares. Those 21 points can put the Islanders into a playoff spot and give Tavares the assurance to stay with the team which I believe, makes the 3.5 million worth it. Overall, this trade was designed for Tavares and the playoff push later in the year.
In what seems like an instant looking back, the Islanders were a completely different team. On Thursday the 24th this June it was announced that Travis Hamonic was no longer a New York Islander, but a member of the Calgary Flames. In this trade, the Islanders gave up Travis Hamonic and a 4th round pick for a first-round pick in this years draft and 2 second round picks. Two factors likely went into this trade for the Islanders. One of which is an earlier situation. Back in November of last year, Travis Hamonic requested a trade to a team in the North-West to be closer to his family. That trade request was later rescinded. But, it’s not crazy to believe that the Islanders took his family into account while trading him to the Flames, a team in the North-West. Another reason to trade Hamonic for just picks was the prospect at some cap space. With John Tavares’ contract expiring at the end of the season the Islanders can use as much cap space as they can to pay Tavares. But, in my opinion, I believe that the team needs to show John Tavares that they want to win now. Now it may not look like a win-now trade, it definitely shows that the Islanders will be willing to shell out the big bucks to get Tavares to stay. They show that “win-now” ideology more in the Strome-Eberle trade, which was something needed.
Coming off an impressive year with the Seattle Thunderbirds accumulating 79 points in 41 games, Mathew Barzal is trying to make a name for himself and leave an impression on the Islanders lineup. Doug Weight, the Islanders Head Coach, has not been shy to express his liking of Barzal. During an interview talking about Mathew Barzal’s playoff run he said that Barzal, “was battling, he was in good position, had good sticks and little things that you go from being a great talented kid to a great talented player.” Weight was also as transparent while asked about if Barzal would crack the roster based on the training camp play he responded with a simple “yes.” His season will most likely benefit out of the likelihood of playing top 6 minutes. Of all the prospects, Barzal is poised to and most likely will have the best season.
The most controversial and fun player on the Islanders, Josh Ho-Sang is most likely here to stay! #66, who was in between the NHL, where he attained 10 points in 21 games, and the AHL, where he got 36 points in 50 games. Personally, Josh Ho-Sang believes that he’s ready for the NHL saying that he “think[s] [he’s] ready to come in and be an impact player in the NHL.” Over the Summer and later in the year last year, Ho-Sang seemed to become a much more mature person who could make fun of his past shortcomings. Many people who don’t like Ho-Sang site his personality but with things like the tweet below, it’s hard to say that he isn’t getting better at controlling himself and learning from the past.
I made it pic.twitter.com/fIdq9f4yFI
— Josh Ho-sang (@66jhosang) September 23, 2016
This is a reference to when he was late to his first year at training camp by sleeping in. This was tweeted the next year when he camp to camp… on time.
But getting past his emotions, Josh Ho-Sang has been a spectacular player to watch this preseason and his young offensive flair will greatly help the Islanders. Overall though, Ho-Sang will most likely not get the credit he deserves this season. Many will be talking about Barzal this season and many will probably forget the massive impact of Josh Ho-Sang will likely make.
“Who’s this guy?” you might be asking. Well, remember the name. The Quinnipiac graduate didn’t come into the Islanders with high expectations getting drafted in the 4th round in 2014. But, the defenseman seems to be an up-and-coming player in the Islanders organization. Though he was sent to the AHL, Doug Weight has mentioned that “He showed a lot of maturity in his game, very good skater, puck mover, he’s a confident kid and definitely when you play like that, you get a chance for a real good look.” Now, it’s not just the camps that are raising some eyebrows for Islanders fans, it’s also his accolades last year. During Towes’ rookie campaign in the AHL, he had 40 assists in 76 games, was named to the AHL All-Rookie team, and won the fastest skater at the AHL All-Star Game. Towes may get a couple looks this season because of his tremendous camp and preseason.
Islanders’ Lineup Mock-Up
Josh Bailey – John Tavares – Jordan Eberle
Anders Lee – Matthew Barzal – Andrew Ladd
Anthony Beauvillier – Josh Ho-Sang – Brock Nelson
Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Calvin De Hann – Johnny Boychuck
Adam Pelech – Nick Leddy
Ryan Pulock- Thomas Hickey
Overall I believe the Islanders will finish with a top wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. This will likely land them at about 97 points, a three-point improvement from last year. This is a small boost but with a packed Metro Division, it will make the difference between the playoffs and golf, Tavares staying and Tavares going. This boost will most likely be backed by a strong season by Eberle, Barzal, and Tavares. I believe these players will get 65, 45, and 75 points respectively. This is looking to be a great season for the Islanders that will cause Tavares to stay on the Island.