Revisiting Islanders Bold Preseason Predictions

The New York Islanders had a rough first half of the 2021-22 season to say the least. The 13 road games to start the season, the COVID-19 outbreak within the roster, the injuries to key players, and finally the postponement of games once the Islanders were finding their footing. As a result, the team has only won 16 of their 39 games at the All-Star break and is near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with a lot of ground to make up to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Related: 3 Islanders Needs at the 2022 Trade Deadline

Before the season started, many fans and experts alike made predictions about the Islanders and some already are taking a beating. We looked at 3 bold predictions and at the All-Star break, we can see how well each of them looks.

Oliver Wahlstrom Becomes a Top-Line Forward

One of the issues within the Islanders forward unit all season is finding an ideal line for Oliver Wahlstrom. The 21-year-old forward has an unquestionable skillset that opens up the offense with speed on the wing and an accurate shot, allowing him to create scoring chances in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, despite scoring 10 goals and adding eight assists, Wahlstrom has been inconsistent and has yet to find a forward line that best suits him.

Oliver Wahlstrom New York Islanders
Oliver Wahlstrom, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The second half of the season will be pivotal for Walstrom, and the Islanders forward unit not only to find the back of the net but find an ideal shift for the young forward. It’s possible that Walstrom still emerges as a top-line forward and plays alongside Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee as the Islanders make a push for the playoffs. Ultimately, as the team continues to shuffle the lines, it looks like the optimal shift for the 21-year-old forward will be playing alongside center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and forward Zach Parise as they have formed a formidable later line for the offense.

Anders Lee Scores Over 30 Goals

Lee returned to the lineup after missing the second half of last season with a torn ACL. It was unclear how the veteran forward would return and if Lee would remain a pivotal part of the Islanders’ offensive success but in the first half of the season, the 31-year-old forward was one of the top scorers for the Islanders.

Anders Lee New York Islanders
Anders Lee, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Lee only has 11 goals in the 34 games he’s played, making 30 by the end of the season seems like a reach and unlikely to happen. However, the veteran forward is finding his spot in the offensive zone and finishing scoring chances by taking advantage of loose pucks near the net. With the Islanders looking to turn their season around and the offense stepping up, Lee may start to pile on the goals and possibly eclipse the 30-goal mark.

Ryan Pulock Is Norris Trophy Finalist

Ryan Pulock was expected to have a big season and after agreeing to an eight-year contract with the Islanders, was poised to continue to be a crucial part of the defensive unit. Unfortunately, Pulock was placed on the long-term injured reserve early on in the season and has only played in 14 games. The Islanders’ top defenseman returned for two games before the All-Star break, but injuries have prevented him from impacting the lineup, especially in the first half of the season.

Ryan Pulock New York Islanders
Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Pulock will play a major role in the Islanders’ defense in the second half of the season as one of the team’s best pure defenseman and two-way skaters. With the Islanders looking to rebound on the season, great defensive play from Pulock and the rest of the unit will be pivotal for success, allowing the team to keep games low-scoring and slowly churn out victories. however, even if the 27-year-old defenseman has a great second half of the season, he won’t be in the conversation for the Norris Trophy.

Other Preseason Predictions For Islanders

Before the season, it wasn’t considered a bold prediction to think that the Islanders could win the Stanley Cup, after all, the team reached reach the Semifinal in consecutive seasons. However, as this season has progressed, the Stanley Cup hopes are slowly dwindling, rather the hope is that the Islanders can make the playoffs first and then see if they can make a playoff run afterward.

Another prediction was that four skaters on the Islanders would score 20 goals or more by the end of the season. With Barzal, Lee, Wahlstrom, and Brock Nelson all scoring 10 goals or more by the All-Star break, it’s likely the Islanders have four skaters eclipse the 20-goal mark, giving the team a deep scoring offense. In the end, the second half of the season will be an interesting and exciting one as the team continues to make up ground in the Eastern Conference and hopes to make a push for a playoff spot as well.

Sign up for our regular 'Islanders Newsletter' for all the latest.