The New York Islanders are planning on moving to UBS Arena in the Elmont region of Nassau County for the 2021-22 season. It is unclear whether the Isles will play most of their games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn or the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale.
But whatever happens, the Islanders will have a tough time this coming season, as our NHL predictions show. Here’s what we feel about what the Islanders will do this coming year and how they’re going to contend in the Atlantic Division.
How the Isles Will Perform
The Islanders finished in sixth place in their division last year, but they managed to get lucky in the Toronto bubble and reach the Eastern Conference Final, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.
While coach Barry Trotz brings an aggressive game, the team’s defense may become a problem. The team will compete against the Boston Bruins, the Washington Capitals, and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the temporary Atlantic Division in 2021. The Isles will need to try and move forward in building a defense this season, as the team has up 2.78 goals per game last year.
There is extreme uncertainty over whether top defenseman Mathew Barzal will return to the Islanders this season. There are rumors that Barzal is willing to sign a bridge deal, but the Isles’ salary cap issues make it hard for them to figure something out. General manager Lou Lamoriello will have his work cut out for him here.
Losing top goaltender Thomas Greiss to the Detroit Red Wings will also be a problem. While Semyon Varlamov did rebound last season with a 2.62 GAA, the team’s defense may force him to work harder than necessary. Outside of Brock Nelson and Barzal if he returns, the Isles don’t have many talented players on defense to help.
that feeling when hockey is back pic.twitter.com/bVBB8Wnj6i
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) December 21, 2020
Ilya Sorokin will join the team this season. The 2014 draft pick could become the team’s goaltender of the future. He had a 1.50 GAA and a 26-10-3 record in the KHL last season. While he showed outstanding skills in Russia’s top professional league, there remains a question of how well his performance will carry over to the NHL.
The team still has some prominent forwards returning, including Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, and Jordan Eberle. All of these players can contribute on both sides of the ice, but they may be asked to do more this season than what they can afford to manage.
Where Will the Islanders Finish in the Division?
The New York Islanders will finish in seventh place in the Atlantic Division. The Isles have more talent than the last-place New Jersey Devils, but this season will be a reality check for the team. The team will need to look at how they are built and where they will go if they want to remain competitive in a tough Eastern Conference.
Will the Isles Make the Playoffs?
We do not see the New York Islanders making the playoffs in 2021. But with the Islanders continuing to build a quality roster, the team has a chance to contend years from now. The fact that the team will stay in one arena starting in the fall of 2021 instead of having to bolt between Brooklyn and Uniondale for their games will also help them go forward and be more productive.
The new season of the NHL is almost upon us! If you want to catch up with all the latest information, make sure you visit our NHL hub page.
Image by: Michael Miller