Analyzing the probable 2016-2017 Islanders lineup
The Islanders made a trio of moves in the opening two days of free agency, solidifying their roster for the upcoming season. Andrew Ladd (seven years), Jason Chimera (two years), and PA Parenteau (one year) were all signed to deals. Although long-serving members of the team Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin are all gone, the Islanders lineup still looks formidable and ready to compete.
LW – Andrew Ladd
C – John Tavares
RW – PA Parenteau
Breakdown: John Tavares will technically have two new linemates this year, although Parenteau did spend most of his two seasons with the Islanders on Tavares’ wing. Parenteau put up 120 points in 161 games in that span, which took place from 2010 to 2012. Ladd, however, is completely new and is expected to add a much needed dynamic presence to the wing on the top line. When Matt Moulson was on the left wing to this duo, he put up 31 and 36 goals respectively in the two years. With more skill and a similar playing style, how many can Ladd pot? Only time will tell, but this line should be a good one. Also, it’s possible Mathew Barzal gets a crack on the right wing next to John Tavares if he makes the opening night roster, but with the addition of Parenteau it is likely Barzal heads back to Seattle.
LW – Anders Lee
C – Ryan Strome
RW – Shane Prince
Breakdown: Ryan Strome finally slots back into his natural center position with Frans Nielsen gone. How long that will last, no one knows. But regardless, it’s a great opportunity for Strome to rebound from his pitiful 2015-2016 campaign. As for his wingers, Anders Lee returns to top-six action after his season was ended last year by a broken leg. Although he struggled to get on the scoresheet early last year, he was doing everything right. There is no reason to worry on that front. As for Shane Prince, he’ll be entering his second full season. An analytical darling, he has a chance to put his tremendous shot and speed to work in the top-six. He could be a breakout candidate this year.
LW – Nikolay Kulemin
C – Brock Nelson
RW – Josh Bailey
Breakdown: This line is up in the air. It has the potential to be good with a two-way forward (Kulemin), a sniper (Nelson), and a playmaker (Bailey), but all three have to bounce back from bad years. It’s almost a misfit line where the players don’t fit anywhere else. It was together for a short stint last season but was very, very bad defensively. But maybe it’ll work out.
LW – Jason Chimera
C – Casey Cizikas
RW – Cal Clutterbuck
It’ll likely take a little while for Cizikas and Clutterbuck to get used to their new linemate, but this line will have the ability to inflict some serious damage. Will all respect to Matt Martin, Jason Chimera is flat out a better player. He put up 20 goals and 20 assists last year on a deep Capitals team and still skates with speed like he’s 23 years old. All three members of this line will be pests to play against, both defensively and offensively. If you liked the old fourth line, you’ll love this one (probably).
Defensive pair #1:
LD – Nick Leddy
RD – Travis Hamonic
Breakdown: This pair saw most of last season’s action together. Both are extremely talented skaters and are good at both ends of the puck. They can be deployed in all situations without worry.
Defensive pair #2:
LD – Calvin de Haan
RD – Johnny Boychuk
Breakdown: Like Hamonic and Leddy, these two have seen a lot of time together. One thing that is worth keeping an eye on is Boychuk’s progression this season. He took a big step back last year, albeit still while being a serviceable defenseman. The Islanders can’t afford to have him drop off even more.
Defensive pair #3:
LD – Thomas Hickey
RD – Ryan Pulock
Breakdown: Ryan Pulock is ready (finally!) to step into a full-time top-six role next year. Thomas Hickey, his counterpart, had a tremendous end to the season and playoff run.
Goalies: some combination of Greiss, Berube, and Halak
Breakdown: Something is going to give in the three goalie situation eventually. The ideal scenario is Jaroslav Halak being traded, but suitors are thin and he has had health problems. JF Berube going through waivers and down to Bridgeport is another last-resort option if Halak can’t be moved, but he has a high chance of being claimed. The only safe one right now is Thomas Greiss.
Scratches: Alan Quine, Mikhail Grabovski, Adam Pelech
Breakdown: Quine and Pelech are youngsters who have proven their keep but just can’t find a spot in the lineup right now. They’ll be the first ones called on when injuries happen. As for Mikhail Grabovski, it is unlikely he sees much playing time this year, due to a combination of concussion issues and poor play. It is not even known if he is fully healthy yet.
Islanders fans, despite looking at a completely reformed roster, have a lot to be excited about next season. The injection of new blood and veteran leadership will hopefully push them over the ledge and bring them to a conference finals and beyond.