Hey guys! Sven here with a look at the New York Islanders for 31 in 31! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.
Mathew Barzal – 82GP 22-63-85. I have a pretty good feeling I’m going to be the low guy on Barzal, but that’s okay with me. Congratulations if you were the lucky guy to pick him up last year, however this is the sophomore’s year to step up into the #1C role and there are a lot of uncertainties involved with this move that scare me. With Tavares gone, it is likely that Barzal’s PPP will take a sizable hit. It is tough for any young player to step up into a top-line role, and Barzal certainly has the skill to do it, but the Islanders likely won’t be putting up much offence this year. Ranked in the top 30 by ESPN, I really think there are better players (who we have a larger sample size on) that you can take in the third round. I don’t expect him to fall much further than a round, maybe two, but there is still plenty of upside to drafting him. He is the hands-down #1C playing with two decent wingers and will receive a ton of ice time from Coach Trotz. Just beware of the Sophomore Slump!
Anders Lee – 82GP 40-22-62. Time will only tell how much of Lee’s production over the past two seasons has been directly due to playing on Tavares’ wing. With a knack for putting the puck in the net in multiple ways, Lee playing on Barzal’s wing may not affect him a ton. The overall regression of the Islanders may see him slide back to his 50-point mark in 2016-17, however I believe the 28-year-old has proven himself as a goal scorer.
Josh Bailey – 76GP 18-53-71. Bailey enjoyed a bit of a breakout year, with a new career-high and was one of the top first-half players last season. However inversely to Lee, Bailey’s production will take a hit not playing with Tavares. As he is a pass first guy (demonstrated by his 3:1 assist:goal ratio) and Barzal has demonstrated his playmaking ability, I see his assist totals taking a hit not playing with Tavares’ 37 goal output. I would try to see if he slips past his top 125 ranking on ESPN as he may lose his job at #1RW, but I don’t think I will be drafting any Islanders this year.
Jordan Eberle – 81GP 25-34-59. Despite being a few years removed from stealing the rookie spotlight from former teammate Taylor Hall in Edmonton, Eberle benefitted the most from Barzal’s breakout season on the Islanders’ second line last season, getting back up to the 60-point total after two low seasons in Edmonton. The chemistry he and Barzal demonstrated together may make Trotz keep them together on the top line in favour of Josh Bailey. As I see Lee and Barzal’s point totals taking a hit, Eberle may also have a small regression but I like him as a depth pick if he is #1RW.
Josh Ho-Sang – 22GP 2-10-12. Though he is most well-known for being sent home from Islanders camp two years ago for being late, Ho-Sang has matured after spending the bulk of the last two seasons in Bridgeport (AHL). With solid numbers when he has been called up to the Isles, Ho-Sang will likely be a full-time NHLer this season. Though he is another player with a small sample size, he may be one of the lone bright spots for the Islanders this season.
Nick Leddy – 80GP 10-32-42. Leddy has blossomed into a reliable top-pair defenceman since being drafted in the first round in 2009 by Minnesota. If your league includes +/- I would definitely shy away from his -42 rating last season, however he will continue to receive plenty of ice time and has appeared to have reached his ceiling at 40-45 points. Leddy is a defenceman that will be overlooked by most due to how this Isles team looks this season, but if you are looking for one last D on your team, he is fairly consistent production-wise.
Ryan Pulock – 68GP 10-22-32. In his first full season with the Isles, Pulock was able to put up a respectable 32 points. With the eventual demotion of Boychuk to the second pairing, the door is wide open for Pulock to gobble up TOI and be put into a lot more offensive situations (PP#2 perhaps). He is a gamble given the Sophomore Slump, but I feel like he will, much like Ho-Sang, be one of the lone bright spots for New York this year.
Robin Lehner – 53GP 3.01GAA 908SV%. After the Sabres landed Hutton in free agency and Halak found a backup role in Boston, Lehner was destined to suit up for the Islanders this season. With yet another bad team in front of him and likely a ceiling of 50 starts, Lehner is a hands-down undraftable player. He may surprise us and put together a stellar season, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Thomas Greiss – 27GP 3.82GAA 892SV%. The career backup has had his bright spots in the past, however he has regressed tremendously in his time with the Islanders. I would stay away from drafting him even more than Lehner!
Sebastian Aho – 22GP 1-3-4. For everyone that isn’t an Islanders fan, yes, there is another Sebastian Aho in the NHL. This one is not Finnish and is not the #1C for Carolina. However, this Sebastian Aho is a 2017 fifth-rounder that has fast-tracked his way to the Pros. With a great shot at cracking the D corps this year, Aho may be mistakenly taken in some drafts, but others (especially those who require a rookie) will see a guy that will likely be given plenty of opportunity on this lowly Islanders team.
Noah Dobson – QMJHL: 67GP 17-52-69. Dobson was one of my favourite top prospects heading into the 2018 draft due to his big frame and right-handed shot from the point, and I think the Islanders stole him at pick #12. With a deadly shot and great defensive play, the Islanders are excited to have his two-way play in their system. Though he may go back to the Q to have a big fish small pond season, I am very excited to see if he pans out.
Kieffer Bellows – WHL: 56GP 41-33-74. After a very good showing in his first major-junior season, Bellows will fast-track to the AHL this season and play in Bridgeport. The 2016 first-rounder is a power forward through and through, showing off his tenacity and scoring finish at the most recent WJC. So far, he sounds like a Casey Cizikas with a bit more scoring punch that can also play the wing, which probably excites Islanders fans. Only time will tell how he is able to transition to the Pros, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him up in New York for a stint this season.
Otto Koivula – Liiga: 53GP 9-18-27. I usually have very little to say regarding European prospects as there is typically little footage of them on YouTube, but the 6’4” winger is certainly noteworthy. A fourth-rounder in 2016, Koivula is
Jakub Skarek – Czech: 21GP 2.41GAA 913SV%. I usually have no idea how to evaluate goaltenders, but the Islanders signing their third-rounder from this most recent draft certainly caught my attention. Given their current situation in net, there is nothing the Islanders faithful would enjoy more than a goaltending prospect to blossom into an NHL starter. I am sure the 18-year-old will again represent the Czechs at the WJC, so I will keep my eye out for him then. He will likely play in a European pro league for 2018-19, gaining more experience before hopefully making the jump to North America down the road.
Mitchell Vande Sompel – AHL: 58GP 7-22-29. In his first Pro season with Bridgeport, Islanders faithful were able to catch a glimpse of the offensive upside Vande Sompel possesses. The 2015 third-rounder is likely a year or two away from NHL time, however he may receive a call-up stint this year in the event of injuries. What stuck out to me the most was comparisons to Dan Boyle.