During the 2016-17 season, the Islanders fell just short of the playoffs. In a year full of ups and downs, here’s some positives and negatives to take away from the season that many Islander fans will most likely forget about as time goes on.
1. Anders Lee
Anders Lee has turned into quite the player this season after a slow start, proving to be an elite goal scorer. During the 2016-17 season, Lee led the team in goals with 34 and totaled 52 points. Fans were looking for John Tavares to find another lineman that can score some goals, and that very well could be Anders Lee. After taking a few steps back last season, Lee has rebounded this season and has been the Islanders best goal scorer. Islanders fans have reason to be excited about Anders Lee.
2. Coach Doug Weight
Since taking over as Islanders head coach in mid January when Jack Capuano was fired, Doug Weight completely turned this team around. Taking over when the team was in last place in the Metropolitan division, Weight pulled this team within striking distance of the final Wild Card spot, but the team fell just short. Under Doug Weight, the Islanders were 24-12-4, and proved to play with a lot more effort and heart. They had a much more offensive mindset, and also blew less third period leads. Doug Weight absolutely deserves to receive an extension as head coach of the New York Islanders. That is, if he wants to return.
3. Young Talent
Two young players that stand out on this Islanders roster and were key contributors down the stretch as the team battled for the final Wild Card spot are forwards Josh Ho-Sang and Anthony Beauvillier. Ho-Sang was called up late in the season, and showed signs that he is here to stay. He appeared in 21 games, netting 4 goals and 6 assists, and showed the ability to be a major playmaker. Islanders fans should be excited for Josh Ho-Sang next season, as he could be a major help to John Tavares. At just age 21, he has a lot to learn, but Islanders fans have reason for excitement with Ho-Sang. Beauvillier also showed signs that he is here to stay, appearing in 66 games, with 9 goals and 15 assists. At just 19 years old, Beauvillier fits the style of play today, with really good speed, and uses his speed to make plays. Islanders fans should be very excited about these 2 players, as they had solid chemistry together towards the end of the season.
4. 94 Points
Fans look were very frustrated with this team for most of the season, as they spent much of the year towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. However, the team did finish with 94 points, and they fell just a few points short of making the playoffs. At one point during the season, it looked as though the team would be lucky to finish with 80 points. But, this team showed they care, and wanted to make the playoffs. If it wasn’t for a sloppy start early, this team would be in the playoffs. Lets be honest, they had to play near perfect hockey since Doug Weight took over, and they fell just short. Maybe, by not making the playoffs, upper management will wake up, and maybe the Islanders will be big spenders this offseason.
5. Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera
The Islanders signed these two veterans in hopes that they would be good replacements for three of their core players from a year ago; Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielson, and Matt Martin. While they started off slow, Ladd and Chimera had solid seasons. Ladd finished the season with over 20 goals, while Chimera had 20 goals himself. Both have had great NHL careers, and it took them getting used to the system, but they proved to fit in just right. Both are under contract for next season, and if this team can find their way back to the playoffs, they both will be key contributors. They had big shoes to fill, and they did a pretty solid job for the Islanders. Both proved to be solid goal scorers, which is something a team always needs.
1. No playoffs
There’s no sugar coating in the fact that the Islanders clearly took some major steps back in the 2016-17 season, after winning a playoff series last year for the first time in quite some time. The team put themselves in a major hole, and they could not quite find their way out of it. Fans have reason for concern, as who knows if this team will continue to move backwards after a major rebuild over a long period of time. After winning a playoff series, the hope was this team would make a deep run in the playoffs. The 2016-17 season in many ways was a failure, and this team has a lot of work to do this offseason. They have to be better.
2. Goalie Situation
When was the last time the Islanders had a really good goalie? It’s been awhile, and it’s holding them back right now. Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have their moments, but they’re both very inconsistent. They’ll have back to back shutouts, but then they’ll have a game where they can’t buy a save, and let up 4-5 goals, not giving the team much of a chance. How many times did Thomas Greiss get pulled this season? But, much of the goalie situation blame has to go to Garth Snow. For whatever reason, the team thinks the 3 goalie system is a good idea. Well, it failed this season. It wasn’t fair to any of the goalies. They sent Halak down to the minors, and that left JF Berube as the backup to Greiss. It seemed like Greiss never got to rest until he had a bad game, hurting his confidence. Halak should have been called up much sooner, as he would’ve been a solid backup goalie that could win them a game when Greiss needed a rest. But, the team waited much to long, as Thomas Greiss was burnt out, and Halak finished the season playing great hockey. Both these goalies give the Islanders a chance to win, but they also have games where they are just awful. The goalie situation was a major failure this season. If there was no 3 goalie system, this team could be in the playoffs.
3. John Tavares has 1 year left
The 2016-17 season ended, and the Islanders’ franchise player only has one year left on his current deal. The team will go as far as John Tavares goes, but they cannot lose him to free agency after the 2017-18 season. They need to lock him up as soon as possible, preferably this offseason. But, does Tavares want to stay? This team has only won one playoff series with Tavares, and they haven’t shown a commitment to winning games. Tavares has been here through the good and the bad, and has always been a quiet guy who just goes about his business. He doesn’t seem like the guy to leave the team that drafted him, but it’s on the Islanders’ upper management to show him they want to win a Stanley Cup. If Tavares signs elsewhere, this team is in major trouble, and fans will be calling for everyone to be fired (if they aren’t already). All we can do is watch, and enjoy at least the final season the team has with him.
This season, the Islanders really only had 2 consistent defensemen in Nick Leddy and when he was healthy, Johnny Boychuk. Other than these 2, the Islanders had some holes on the defensive side. Thomas Hickey had a interesting year, as he ended the season playing forward. He looked pretty good there, and maybe playing with 7 defensemen will be part of Doug Weight’s plan in the future. After looking like the Islanders’ best defensemen at times in prior seasons, Travis Hamonic had a rough season. Over the past few years, he has been plagued with injuries, which had definitely slowed him down. There was also major concern as to why the team didn’t have Ryan Pulock with them for most of the season. A defensemen who could provide some offense is something this team could use, yet he appeared in just 1 game, after playing in 15 last season. Are we missing something? He better be on the NHL roster next season, as he had shown signs of being an effective player, and even appeared in some playoff games last year.
5. Matt Martin
While everyone seemed upset the team didn’t resign Kyle Okposo and Fans Nielson, an even bigger player they missed was Matt Martin. Martin didn’t wow you statistically, but he did the little things, and was apart of the best 4th line in hockey alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas. Clutterbuck and Cizikas did not look like the same players after getting extensions, and that can be partly blamed to missing Matt Martin. These 3 had great chemistry, and they were known for grinding it out with physical play. They fed off of each other, and once they lost Martin, they did not look the same on the ice. The Islanders actually had something going here, and they lost it. This line was able to set the tone in the past, but it’s gone because Matt Martin is no longer an Islander.
The 2016-17 season was a tough year for the Islanders. They had their moments, but were in too deep of a hole to pull themselves out. To say the team had a terrible year isn’t fair, as they fell just short of the playoffs. But, there should be concern as the team took some big steps back this season. The team has some holes to fill, but they are capable of being a playoff team next season. This is a huge offseason for the Islanders, and it will show us if the Islanders are heading north or south. The team was rebuilding for a while. They started to find some consistency, but that was not the case this year.
All stats vis nhl-reference