Going into this past season, most hockey observers felt the New York Islanders’ biggest strength was their depth in scoring. In 2014-15, the Islanders finished fourth in the league averaging 2.99 goals per game. However, this was an area New York struggled with at times this past season finishing with a ranking of 11th and 2.77 goals per game. A big reason for this drop off was the fact that dynamic kids like Ryan Strome, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson had disappointing seasons. If New York is going to move forward next season, the Islanders’ young guns need to rebound.
Strome made his Islanders debut in 2013-14 and had a strong start to his NHL career. In 37 games, the Ontario native had seven goals and 18 points. The fifth overall pick of the 2011 draft backed up that campaign with an excellent first full season in 2014-15 with 17 goals and 50 points. In addition Strome was a plus-23 that season, which led the Islanders.
All signs were pointing for a big season this past year for Strome. Sixty points seemed like a sure thing and quite possibly maybe he would even hit the 70 mark. But the 2015-16 campaign was about constant struggles with his play, confidence and trips to New York’s AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Strome finished last season with just eight goals and 28 points while going minus-9.
There is no doubt the soon-to-be 23-year old has a world of talent. But now the promising youngster needs to get back to the drawing board this summer and work on his game. Strome must make this past season about a learning experience and what he needs to do to take the next step in the NHL. If not, he will be watching more playoff games from the stands next year.
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 10, 2016
It took a while for Lee to find his game this past season. So much was expected of the kid from Notre Dame who scored 25 goals in 76 games in 2014-15. Everyone was penciling in 30 goals for Lee. Maybe those expectations were too high?
Lee made his presence known in his first full season in the league and it took to the latter stages of this past year for him to get back to that level. The Minnesota native was finding his game but unfortunately for him he broke his leg the last week of the season after being hit by a Johnny Boychuk slap shot. Lee finished the season with 15 goals, 36 points and led the team with eight power-play goals. He needs to get back to being a presence in front of the net for New York game in and game out.
— B.D. Gallof (@BDGallof) May 19, 2016
From afar one might ask why Nelson is on this list. Didn’t he finish the season second in goals scored for the Islanders with 26? Didn’t Nelson, for the second year in a row, hit the 20-goal or better mark? The answers to those questions are yes. However, what has been the biggest concern in Nelson’s game has been his inconsistency. For the second year in a row, Nelson did not finish the season strong and that carried into the playoffs. Nelson only tallied one goal in 11 playoff games this year versus the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. To be considered one of the Islanders core players for years to come, Nelson has to be more of a difference maker on a regular basis and come playoff time.
Next year is a big season for this talented trio on the Islanders. It has to start with their diligence and work this offseason. The Islanders need to find a scoring winger for John Tavares this summer. But in addition, if the team that plays in Brooklyn wants to make a deep playoff run next season these young guns must take a big step forward.