32 in 32: Three issues to watch for the Islanders


NHL.com offers in-depth analysis of each of the 32 teams between August 8 and September 8. Today, three issues to watch for the New York Islanders.

32 IN 32 ISLANDERS : Preview of the 2022-23 season | The best hopes | Analysis for poolers

1. Best of Mathew Barzal is it coming?

The 25-year-old center is yet to come close to the 85 points (22 goals, 63 assists) that won him the 2018 Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year. He is one of the most electrifying players in the League when he has room to manoeuvre. He could become a restricted free agent after the season and reach new heights if new coach Lane Lambert allows him to fully express himself offensively.

Video: NYI@BUF: Great pass from Dobson for Barzal

« They had great communication, » said general manager Lou Lamoriello. “They have to be on the same page, and I believe they are. In other words, I like the state of mind that Mat is in, but only time will tell. I like Lane’s way of thinking. All this must be transposed on the ice. »

2. Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov can they form a defensive pair?

Dobson and Romanov both signed three-year contracts as restricted free agents. The first has just hatched in the NHL (51 points; 13 goals, 38 assists in 80 games), while the second was acquired in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens on July 7, in return for the 13th overall pick. of the 2022 draft.

Romanov wants to add an attacking side to his robust style of play. The 22-year-old (6-foot-1, 209) led the Canadiens with 142 blocked shots and a total playing time of 202:28 shorthanded, while his 225 hits put him in sixth among NHL defensemen. He is the player who has played the most games in the NHL among all players drafted from the second round in 2018.

The Islanders hope that if paired together, they can help each other reach their full potential.

Video: NYI@WSH: Dobson takes the shot in AN

« Alex is a good skater, he moves the puck well, and I think some of those qualities are part of my strengths as well, » Dobson said. Having these assets could work well, especially for breakouts and transition play on offense. It’s hard to answer that question right now, but I’m excited to have him in our defensive squad. He will be a great addition. »

3. How will players respond to a new voice?

Lambert will be an NHL head coach for the first time, having served as associate coach with Barry Trotz for four seasons with the Islanders and assistant with the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals. They won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

Trotz was fired on May 9, and Lambert was hired seven days later. Lamoriello then pointed out the difference between being an assistant and a head coach, which is sometimes “bigger than people can imagine. It will be up to Lambert to make that adaptation in the NHL and up to the players to respond to a different voice.

« I’ve been here four years, » Lambert said May 16. “I have worked with most of these individuals during this period, and I think that will allow us not to waste time at the beginning. We already have a good relationship and I think a lot of players are excited about having someone they know well with them. »

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