Josh Bailey has never scored 20 goals in his ten years of playing in the NHL.
He’s almost reached that plateau, the closest coming in 2017-18 when he notched 18 goals. So that begs the question, how fitting would it be this season for Bailey, the longest-tenured member of the organization, to finally eclipse that mark?
Bailey though, is not the only player on the team currently constituted that has high expectations being placed on them in 2019-20. In fact, each player on the Isles has at least one thing they should strive for this year.
Our Rob Taub has them here:
Mathew Barzal: Record a 90-point season.
Because the Islanders play more of a defensive-heavy style, some would say Barzal hitting such a high total would be out of the question. But Barzal is the Isles’ best forward and the offense runs through him. And based on how he ran roughshod through the preseason, the chemistry he showed with Jordan Eberle and head coach Barry Trotz looking for more punch up front, Barzal reaching 90 points should be his highwater mark.
Jordan Eberle: Score 35 goals playing with Barzal for a full season.
Eberle looked like a new player in the postseason last spring and it has translated with how he’s performed in the preseason. He looks more motivated than ever to have a big season. Getting the chance to do on a line with Barzal for a full 82 games, Eberle has the opportunity to be the top-end goalscorer the Isles desperately need. He’s only tallied 30-plus goals in a season once in his career, scoring 34 back in 2011-12. So aiming for 35 should be Eberle’s goal.
Anders Lee: Have a 30-goals, 30 assists by the time the season is over.
Lee has continued to evolve from big-time goalscorer to a solid two-way forward. He does have a 62-point season in his back pocket from back in 2017-18. But that came in a more offensive-minded system under Doug Weight. Under Trotz, he’s had to shift more of the focus to defense. Lee just missed out a third consecutive 30-goal season last year, missing out by only two. Though he didn’t hit that mark, Lee did set a new career-best in assists with 23. That’s an indication that shows the 29-year-old can bring even more to the table. If the Isles are going to being a stronger offensive team this year, Lee is going to be one of those x-factors to provide.
Josh Bailey: Score 20 goals.
He’s right there as said in the intro. The time has finally come though for Bailey to join the 20-goal club. Bailey once again will be playing a pivotal role in the top-six and on the power play — and that means scoring goals. His numbers have only gotten better as each year passes, but that 20-goal mark has alluded him for some reason.
Brock Nelson: Finally reach the 30-goal plateau.
Nelson had the best season of any Islander last year other than Barzal and the goaltenders. He finally showed that he was the player everyone thought he could be, setting a new career-high in points with 53; those 53 points included 25 goals. Nelson has scored 20-or-more in four of his six seasons since entering the league in 2013-14. He’s capable of finally scoring 30 and that should the case this year.
Anthony Beauvillier: Turn back the clock to the second half of the 2017-18 season.
The Islanders are going to lean on Beauvillier to have a huge year. That in part due to not adding another top-six forward in free agency and he signing a bridge deal — or prove it deal — back in August. Beauvillier struggled to find his place in Trotz’ system last year, but still found a way to find the back of the net 18 times. He’s got to have with a chip on his shoulder this year and have that same motivation he showed that second half two years ago, where he ended the year with 24 goals and 39 points.
Derick Brassard: Become that proverbial third-line shutdown center and help improve the power play.
Brassard has always been notorious for his offense going back to his days with the rival Rangers. He’s going to face a whole new challenge playing for a team whose focus is playing without the puck. Brassard being Valtteri Filppula’s replacement is essentially what’s being asked here. It’s not a huge ask, but it might not be an easy adjustment. As for the power play, Brassard is another skill guy who can fill the net if given the chance.
Leo Komarov: Play a more disciplined game.
There’s very little to expect from Komarov because he knows his role. Cutting down on the penalties and late-game mistakes should be what’s asked of him this year. He was sixth on the team with 42 penalty minutes a year ago. As one of the elder statesmen on this Isles team, Komarov must play a smarter brand of hockey this season.
Michael Dal Colle: Establish yourself as a consistent middle-six presence.
Dal Colle won his spot on this team, but now he will get his chance to prove why Trotz can trust him. He has all the tools to be a player who can be relied on for a second or third-line role. It’s on Dal Colle to produce and make an impact, especially with rookie Oliver Wahlstrom ready to steal his spot.
Casey Cizikas: Score at least 15 goals.
I mean asking Cizikas to score 20 again seems unrealistic. But 15? Seems pretty reasonable.
Cal Clutterbuck: Stay healthy for a full season.
Clutterbuck is coming off back surgery which does him no favors. Plus, the game he’s known to play always entails him getting nicked up. Clutterbuck reaching a full 82 without any setbacks — he’s never played in every game since being traded to the Isles back in 2013 — would be a nice achievement.
Matt Martin: Record 300 hits again.
The Islanders don’t ask Martin to do much other than play hard and hit everything in sight. Martin hasn’t recorded 300 hits in a season in three years. Watching him eclipse that mark for the fifth time would be fun to watch.
Andrew Ladd: Find a way to justify the contract.
When Ladd comes back in November — that’s the timetable g.m. Lou Lamoriello gave — he’s going to have to produce and keep producing. Fans are so low on Ladd because of all the injuries he’s endured. But if there were ever a moment for 33-year-old to turn the tide, it’s this season.
Tom Kuhnhackl: Be a mentor to Michael Dal Colle.
Kuhnhackl exemplified what Trotz wants in a player when they get they are a regular in the lineup, most notably in the playoffs. As a 13th forward, it would benefit Kuhnhackl if he showed Dal Colle the ropes and what it takes to be in the lineup every night. Dal Colle doesn’t know the grind of a full year in the NHL; Kuhnhackl is well-versed in that area.
Ross Johnston: Finally get your hands on Tom Wilson.
It’s one thing fans have been craving to see for a number of years now. It might not come this Friday when the Isles and Caps meet for the first time, but at some point this year, Johnston needs to finally put Wilson in his place.
Ryan Pulock: Make the All-Star Game.
Pulock has emerged as the Isles’ number-one d-man for the future. His last two seasons and his performance against Sidney Crosby and Co. last April point out that there are bigger things on the horizon. An All-Star appearance is a next step in Pulock’s development to becoming one of the elite defenders in the league.
Devon Toews: Become elite.
Speaking of elite, Toews has the look and the ability to ascend to the ranks of the NHL’s best. When he arrived in December last season, he immediately made the Islanders better while also putting the rest of the league on notice. Everything is on the table for Toews to thrive in his role and become a star.
Adam Pelech: Total between 25-30 points.
Pelech, following his strong showing in the postseason and in camp, is now the number-two d-man on the Islanders blue line. That role comes with a lot more responsibilities, one of them being contributing more to the offense. An uptick in production should be the outlook for Pelech, who will finally get to flex some of his offensive muscles for the first time since his junior days in Erie.
Scott Mayfield: Ten goals for the year.
Mayfield over the last two years has displayed that he is sneaky when it comes to his offense. He’s got a great shot, and though he only recorded four goals last season, Mayfield is did pump 104 shots on net. The Isles are going to need as much production as possible coming from the back end. Mayfield being one of the driving forces.
Nick Leddy: Try to contribute more offense.
Look, it’s no surprise that last season every defensemen on the Islanders saw their production take a hit; that happens when you shift a majority of the game plan to defense. But for Leddy, who will not start the year as the team’s number one d-man as opposed from years prior, has got to go back to being that 40-point guy. He still remains one of the best skaters on the Isles and one of their most talented defenders with the puck on his stick.
Johnny Boychuk: Keep playing that warrior style.
Boychuk, whose body everyone believes should have broken down by now, just keeps on ticking. The 35-year-old though has never made it through a full 82-game slate in an Islander uniform, due to his style and injuries. Boychuk won’t be asked to play the heavy minutes he’s accustom to in the past, but the Isles will need Boychuk to continue that physical game he likes to play.
Noah Dobson: Show why you’re the future.
Making the team was step one for Dobson. Now, he is one of the defensemen on the roster both Trotz and Lamoriello are banking on elevate the Islanders blue line to another level. Whether it’s for nine games or if he stays the full season, every time Dobson takes the ice, he must make an impact.
Semyon Varlamov: Return to elite status.
Varlamov has gone through a rough couple of seasons recently and hasn’t been at the top of his game in awhile. It wasn’t that long ago he was a Vezina Trophy finalist back in 2014. He’s now got a fresh start with the Islanders and has something to prove to his doubters. If the Islanders are going to reach the postseason for a second straight year, Varlamov re-emerging as a top-flight goaltender is how they get there.
Thomas Greiss: Repeat last year’s performance.
Greiss was about as solid you could ask for last season, especially coming off a nightmare campaign he experienced in 2017-18. He’ll again need to be to Varlamov and his teammates what he was to Robin Lehner a year ago — one half of a William Jennings Trophy winning tandem. Greiss going about his business and playing for his next contract are also good motivators for him to replicate what was a fantastic campaign.
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