NHL.com provides in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 32 teams from August 8 through September 8. 8. Today, New York Islanders.
The New York Islanders are eager for the chance to prove the critics wrong.
They’ve had a relatively quiet offseason after missing the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2017-18, but from general manager Lou Lamoriello’s perspective, the potential trades wouldn’t have made them any better than the core who reached the third round of the playoffs in consecutive seasons. Conviction is the guardian tandem (Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov), five solid defensemen under the age of 29, a 37-goal scorer in the center of the first line and a solid fourth line are enough to compensate for being the only team to have not yet signed a free agent without restriction.
For the underperforming Islanders (37-35-10), the answers must come from within to compete in the Eastern Conference, where eight teams (four from the Metropolitan Division) had at least 100 points last season . Although Lamoriello said that with guilt there was no disappointment, otherwise there would have been drastic changes, there was also confidence to “come back and maybe prove everyone wrong. “.
“Everyone is improving, whether it’s by addition or internally,” Lamoriello told NHL.com. “In our case, at this stage, it’s internally where we need to improve. We added, in my opinion, a top-five defender, a shot from the left that we needed, and we feel very good about it. We’ve been competing with ourselves rather than worrying about what other people are doing.”
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This top-five defender is Alexander Romanov, a 22-year-old acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on July 7 for the No. 13 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Romanov (three), emerging defender Noah Dobson (three) and striker Kieffer Bellows (one year) each signed a contract on August 22. Center Brock Nelson is back after scoring a career-high 37 goals in the NHL. Captain Anders Lee scored 28 goals in 76 games after the striker underwent ACL surgery in March 2021.
“When you look at Anders, he’s coming off a very serious year-end injury that you don’t come back and heal from in a short time,” Lamoriello said, “so I think you’ll see a better Anders Lee this year on the ice. As far as Brock is concerned, he’s gotten better every year. He doesn’t think about scoring. He thinks about winning, so whatever his stats are…it’s just wins and when you get dots .”
Although the Islanders need offense after averaging 2.79 goals per game last season, tied with the Buffalo Sabers for 22nd in the NHL, they won’t give up an identity established in the previous four. New York’s average of 2.56 goals against per game since 2018-19 is second only to the Boston Bruins (2.52).
“Our team is built in a certain way,” Lamoriello said. “I don’t apologize for that. I believe in it. It starts with our goalie, goes through our defense. I’m a goal differential type person. You win hockey games by scoring more goals. it doesn’t matter the number, it’s the differential that allows it to happen.”
Video: Ilya Sorokin’s 15 best saves of the 2021-22 season
New coach Lane Lambert, promoted on May 16 after four seasons as an associate of Barry Trotz, has been asked to put everything in place. Lambert also served as an assistant to Trotz for 11 seasons with the 2018 Stanley Cup champions Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals. The Islanders were 2-1-0 when Lambert coached Trotz from Jan. 1-17. under the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and attended his mother’s funeral in Dauphin, Manitoba, a troubling part of the season due to attendance restrictions in Canadian-based cities. and a postponed game at the Seattle Kraken.
“A lot of familiarity there,” Bellows said. “When he took over at that time, he did a fantastic job.”
Lambert built a reputation as a great communicator with a human touch suited to the modern athlete, coaching Milwaukee of the American Hockey League from 2007-2011, earning four straight Calder Cup playoff berths and two League titles. West Division. The speed of his transition to the NHL coach is one of the many dynamics facing the Islanders, but if you ask any of his former players, there will be plenty of motivation to try.
Because Trotz was fired on May 9 and Lamoriello warned the Islanders, they have no choice.
“I would walk through a wall for Lane,” said Blake Geoffrion, a 2010-12 Milwaukee forward and grandson of Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie Geoffrion. “He has a very good idea of what each player needs to make him play at his best. I think these guys will fully support him. I hope Lane’s entrepreneurial spirit will bring new concepts and ideas at the table, leveraging who he has on his roster.”