John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Matthew Barzal, Nick Leddy, Ryan Pulock. This Islanders team might be one of the most talented teams we’ve seen in years. JT is already off to an unbelievable start with 12G, 6A, and 18 points in just 14 games. Matt Barzal is starting to exceed expectations by putting up 13 points in just 14 games as a 20-year-old. Ryan Pulock is showing the world that he was the missing piece to this team’s powerplay. Everything is beginning to come together. So, is this team ready to make an impact?
This fanbase is deprived. The best lines the Isles fans have seen in the past decade before this year were a toss-up between a line with JT, a young Matt Moulson, and P.A Parenteau, or an overpaid 4th line with Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck. Now, Anders Lee is starting to enter his prime, Josh Bailey is figuring out how the NHL works, and our depth players don’t just consist of players like Marty Reasoner and Keith Aucoin. We have a team now. This is the first time in a while I’ve been able to confidently say the Islanders have a much better offensive core and look more like a playoff team than the Rangers, and it’s showing. BUT, we’re as weak as our weakest link and I think that link is the defense. If this team plans on going deep in the playoffs or being a top seed in the Metro this year or in the future, Garth needs to fill the holes in the defense.
The Islanders have a good defensive core, but not a deep defensive core. If this team doesn’t make an impact in the playoffs this year, the lack of defensive depth is what will keep us back. When teams expose us for it, goaltending is the only remedy(watch the highlights from the game at San Jose this season) and there’s only so much Griess and Halak can do for an 82 game season plus the playoffs.
Bottom line, if Garth can make a move on a solid offensively sound defenseman before the deadline, I think this team can be a serious threat in April.