Projecting the New York Islanders' Opening Night Roster

While the season has officially begun, there are some teams who still have a few days before they drop the puck on their first games. One of those teams is the New York Islanders, who took their time announcing a ton of new contract details for their players until the last possible minute. GM Lou Lamoriello does things a little differently with his teams, and it's hard to argue with the results. Back-to-back appearances in the Final 4, with only the powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning being the only team able to win a series against them. It's a testament to what's been built in Long Island that the departure of team captain John Tavares has only made them a better team. This summer, that building process continued, with some significant names joining the team in hopes of pushing them over the hump. Let's look at how it all came together, starting with the forwards:

Anders Lee - Mat Barzal - Kyle Palmieri

Anthony Beauvillier - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey

Zach Parise - Jean-Gabriel Pageau - Oliver Wahlstrom

Leo Komarov - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Ross Johnson

Kieffer Bellows

Michael Dal Colle

It's remarkable that you can look at this lineup and forget that they just lost a top 6 forward in Jordan Eberle this summer, or that veteran winger Matt Martin is sitting out with an injury. It still looks to be a slightly improved lineup from last season, and that's all you could ask for as a fan. While Komarov currently projects as the 4th-line LW, either he or Ross Johnson could fill the role to start the year. It will be Martin's spot once he returns. Newcomer Zach Parise slots in on the third line and should be a consistently positive addition when his playing time is reduced. He can still kill penalties and can swing over to centre if needed.

On defence is another veteran with a household name who joins this Islanders' squad:

Adam Pelech - Ryan Pulock

Zdeno Chara - Noah Dobson

Andy Greene - Scott Mayfield

Thomas Hickey

Sebastian Aho

Yep, that's 44-year old Zdeno Chara slotting in on the second pairing of a Cup contending team. There were questions last season when he signed with the Capitals about how his game would carry over outside of Boston, how age would slow him down, and so on. Chara dispelled all of them, playing 55 games with the Caps and 5 more in the playoffs. That was enough to earn him another contract with another new team: the Islanders. The rest of this blueline is more or less what the Isles were icing in 2021, but the addition of the NHL's oldest veteran is worthy of note, particularly considering how well that veteran can still play.

In goal, an injury to last year's starter has opened the door for a young netminder:

Ilya Sorokin

Jakub Skarek

Corey Schneider

While the Isles' usual starter Semyon Varlamov is out with an undisclosed injury, Sorokin is getting the job as the team's starter. The team expects him to one day take on that gig full-time, and there is a lot of faith in Sorokin's ability to be able to handle the role briefly right now. Varlamov is not expected to be out for long, but the Islanders want to play it safe with him and aren't concerned that he'll be needed sooner than he's ready. That left the backup spot available, and while Corey Schneider was brought in with the intention of getting that job for the short term, he was outplayed for the position by rookie Jakub Skarek. The 21-year old's numbers weren't particularly outstanding in the AHL last year, so it's a testament both to his play in camp, as well as the disappointing play that Schneider brought to New York.

What do you think of this Isles' lineup, and what would you change?

Photo credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

No comments