2018-19 Record (48-27-7) 103 points
With a new Head Coach and General Manager, the New York Islanders were the league leaders in goals against per game but were ranked 22nd in goals per game. The Isles’ defense was the key reason why they were ranked second in the Metropolitan division. There were no key moves made during the season.
Season MVP: Robin Lehner
Robin Lehner was one of the best goalies in the NHL last year, and it was a hard pill to swallow watching him leave for the Chicago Blackhawks organization after the Isles tried to pursue former Columbus Blue Jacket, Sergei Bobrovsky. His stint with the Islanders was too short. He ranked second in Save Percentage (SV%) with a .930. Lehner ranked third in Goals Against Average (GAA) with a 2.13 and was tied for fourth in shutouts with Tampa Bay netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy, both having six. At the end of the season, Lehner took home the William M. Jennings trophy. This is awarded to the goalie with the least goals scored against them. Sure, the defense was a big part, but Lehner played his best hockey this season.
Most Improved Player: Scott Mayfield
Many people may see this as a surprise, but defensively, Scott Mayfield definitely took the next step in his career. In the summer, the Islanders hired longtime coach, Barry Trotz. He is known for turning teams into defensive powerhouses’. The 6’5 defenseman had 159 blocked shots and played 32 more games than last year. He’s become more consistent and had 118 hits. He’s gone from a seventh defenseman to a top-four defenseman. He averaged 18:44 minutes per game. It’s safe to say Trotz’s coaching skills rubbed off on Mayfield.
Biggest Disappointment: Jordan Eberle
Jordan Eberle saw a large dip in his points this season compared to last year. Following a 59 point campaign in 2017-18, he followed up with 19 goals and 18 assists. A 22 point difference. Eberle was acquired in a one for one player swap with the Oilers, sending back Ryan Strome. At the end of the season, Eberle was an unrestricted free agent. The Islanders signed him to a five-year deal, worth an Average Annual Value (AAV) of $5.5 million. Eberle should be putting up at least 50 points and is one of my top bounce-back players next season.
Highlight of the Year
Credit to CapFriendly
Top Three Prospects
- Ilya Sorokin– Sorokin is a brilliant player in the KHL for CSKA Moskva. He played 40 games, going 28-6-4. Sorokin owns a .940 Sv% and a 1.16 GAA. He is considered one of the best goaltending prospects.
- Noah Dobson– Dobson is a top defensive prospect who plays for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. Additionally, he played for Canada’s U-20 team this past year. Dobson put up six goals and 30 assists for 36 points in 28 games. He was chosen 12th overall in the 2018 NHL draft.
- Bode Wilde– As a right defenseman for the Saginaw Spirit, Bode Wilde plays a 200-foot game. In 62 games for the Spirit, Wilde scored 19 goals and put up 51 assists for 70 points. He’ll be a solid 2-way defenseman for a long time.
- Robin Lehner
- Valtteri Filppula
Players Poised for Breakout:
- Anthony Beauvillier– Now with a few NHL seasons under his belt, I’d expect after a down season, Beauvillier goes to a 45 point player.
- Devon Toews– Toews is going to be a great player and with 48 games played last season, he should be playing powerplay minutes. I’d expect 35-44 points for him.
- Nick Leddy- He has been in some trade talks this summer with the possibility of acquiring someone to help their top six.
It’s very hard to be the best defensive team two years in a row with all of the pregame video coaches. Additionally, they don’t have much offense. If they don’t add any more scoring forwards, and with how good the Metropolitan division is getting, there might not be any room in the playoffs for them.
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