The New York Islanders have struggled in the past when it comes to developing first-round picks. These top picks did not work out, from Griffin Reinhart and Nino Niederreiter to Ryan Strome. While it is still early for Michael Dal Colle, the former first-round pick will need a big year to cement himself on the Islanders roster for years to come as he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year.
Dal Colle has played in the NHL for parts of four seasons but has never played more than 53 games. As a player that scored roughly 40 goals a season in the OHL, Dal Colle has only seven goals in 85 career NHL games. He also saw action in three playoff games this past season and did not register either a point or a shot on goal. Dal Colle has played more of a checking role while playing on the bottom two lines.
Role in 2020-21
Dal Colle could find himself with a terrific opportunity this year. The Islanders find themselves in a challenging situation with the cap. They don’t have much money to spend for a top free agent, and there will be an open spot on the third line. New York’s top two lines are set, and the Islanders already have one of the best fourth lines in the league, whether it consists of Matt Martin or Ross Johnston with Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck.
General manager Lou Lamoriello went out and acquired Jean-Gabriel Pageau during the 2019-20 season. As Pageau is considered one of the top third-line centers in the league, Dal Colle could have a chance to succeed playing with him and a player like Oliver Wahlstrom, who expected to have a more prominent role this season.
Pageau is a player that can play a full 200-foot game and has more assists in his career than goals. He should be a player that can set up Dal Colle for him to show off his shot. Dal Colle has also found success at scoring in tight and could provide traffic in front for a sniper like Wahlstrom. As Dal Colle gets more playing time, he could potentially be a player the Islanders use in the power play. That has been an area of struggle in recent years, and if New York can get consistency from their young forward, he could help solve that problem.
The Islanders have a couple of other players that will be competing for the final two roster spots. Andrew Ladd brings much more experience but has not been able to stay healthy. He also is a player with a major cap hit of $5.5 million and has become sort of the forgotten man. Dal Colle has much more to bring than a veteran like Ladd.
Kieffer Bellows is also someone that can potentially bring a lot to the Islanders at some point. If the Islanders were to acquire a superstar, Bellows would definitely be a player that would be considered in a trade. However, he will likely start the season in the AHL. Dal Colle only has a base salary of $700,000, which helps as the Islanders have so little cap room, but his trade value is extremely low even for a former first-round pick with an expiring contract.