Islanders Opening Night Thoughts

With PA Parenteau put on waivers and claimed by the New Jersey Devils this week, as well as the demotions of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, the New York Islanders are sending a mixed message on opening night. On one hand, it’s apparent they want to get younger and faster, but they also want to get grittier and “safer” on defense.

Anthony Beauvillier New York Islanders
Anthony Beauvillier’s nose for the net and speed earned him a spot on the Islanders opening night roster (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Hungrier and Speedier Forward Lines?

With the theme of having a team that can skate with the Florida Panthers and Tampa Lightnings of the league, the Islanders, without Parenteau and with Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier, are a better skating team. How that helps them this season will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on.

Parenteau could have been counted on to at least reproduce his 20 goals from last season in Toronto with John Tavares. Because of that, more now than ever, Beauvillier, Barzal and possibly even the injured Shane Prince will be counted on to produce. If this Islanders team is going to get back to the 100-point plateau again, they’ll have to get contributions from everyone.

For the time being, it appears right now that Beauvillier — and not Barzal — will get the call first as the Islanders are focused on making sure Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome get every opportunity to prove that they are NHL centermen. It may work out in Beauvillier’s favor now though as the Islanders, without Parenteau, need secondary scoring on the wings.

Showing a nose for the net, Beauvillier’s speed and shot may be a better answer to the Isles’ problems than the playmaking ability of Barzal. Add in the thought of Jason Chimera on the first line with John Tavares and Andrew Ladd, as well as the need for bounce-back seasons for Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Nelson and Strome, the Isles will have plenty of questions that need to be answered.

Defense Gritter?

The Isles’ potential issues go much further than the questions on offense. Pulock’s booming shot from the point will be in the AHL to start the season, in favor of the steady play of recently acquired Dennis Seidenberg. Are the Islanders making a mistake here? Pulock was going to be a force on the power play. Who steps up this year?

Can Johnny Boychuk be the guy he was just two seasons ago with the man-advantage? Can Nick Leddy improve on his career year last season?

Already one of the best skaters in the NHL and capable of eating up minutes, Leddy will have to be even better this season. Luckily, Thomas Hickey, Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic are capable of playing a ton of minutes to ease any burden of ineffectiveness.

While there are so many questions this season with this team, they have players that will be needed to step up and ensure that this year in Brooklyn will be an interesting one.