Metropolitan Division Preview: Islanders

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Scouting Report

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There’s no denying the Islanders have one of the more exciting offenses in the NHL thanks to forwards like John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo and others. The Islanders ranked seventh in the NHL last year with 135 goals, with Tavares’ team-leading 28 being third-best in the League. But the offensive firepower dips a bit after Tavares, Moulson (15 goals) and Michael Grabner (16). Just two other players had more than 10 goals while just five others had five goals or more.

The additions of both Cal Clutterbuck and Pierre-Marc Bouchard should give the Islanders more scoring depth, as both players offer solid bottom-six production on a yearly basis. 

The Islanders’ power play was ranked 11th in the NHL at nearly 20 percent efficiency. It’s no secret that games are easier to win when the power play is working, and that will be needed again next season if the Islanders hope to replicate 2013’s success. The Islanders, though, lost one of their power play quarterbacks in Mark Streit, leaving them with a hole to fill. Streit last season averaged 3:45 of power play icetime per game and had 11 power play points.

The problems arise for the Islanders in their own zone. Just five players who appeared in more than 20 games finished with a plus-rating, including Casey Cizikas, who had an even rating. Just one of those players, Lubomir Visnovsky, finished with a plus-rating (plus-12), and that could be attributed to his power play time.

Streit’s departure leaves a hole in the Islanders’ blueline. While he’s not know as a defensive-defenseman, the Islanders greatly benefitted from his veteran presence, which will now fall on Visnovsky, who will be asked to lead a young defensive group that includes Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald and Brian Strait.

While goaltending wasn’t an issue for the Islanders during the regular season thanks to the resurgence of Evgeni Nabokov, it was during the playoffs. Nabokov went 23-11-7 in the regular season but went 2-4 with a 4.44 goals against average and a .842 save percentage in six playoff games against Pittsburgh. Without a proven backup (23-year-old Kevin Poulin is expected to be the team’s backup), the Islanders will rely heavily on Nabokov, and the question of whether he can perform well enough in 60-plus games will be answered one way or the other.

The Islanders must also improve their penalty kill, which was ranked 21st in the NHL at about 80 percent. The addition of Clutterbuck could help, as he averaged 1:10 of ice time per game on the penalty kill with the Wild.