Let’s start the week right with another New York Islanders Mailbag!
Mondays. It’s one of the week’s tougher days, but when the New York Islanders are on the schedule, it truly changes the mood. Tonight, the Isles are in Philadelphia to snag the final game of their three-game set against the Flyers after a dominating win on Saturday.
Over this past week, the Islanders have lost two of three as they tried to shake off the shocking Anders Lee news. In the Islanders’ last game, we experienced Thomas Hickey‘s return, Leo Komarov alongside Mat Barzal, and a slew of players snapping out of their goalscoring slumps.
Let’s talk about it.
New York Islanders Mailbag: A Silver Lining to Lee Injury, Hickey’s Impact on Trade Deadline, Power Play Fixes
Are there any silver linings you can find to Lee being out, such as there being a push to go do more at the deadline as a result, or is it all negatives within that scenario? (@mralwayswrite)
When a team loses not just their captain but also their leading goalscorer and top-line winger, there are very few positives. With Anders Lee on the shelf until next season, the Islanders need a goalscorer, a need they already had going into the season. But now the Islanders can do so with an extra $7 million to play with, which will allow them to fill an unfillable void and then some.
The Islanders have proven in the first half of this season that they had more than they thought. Oliver Wahlstrom has shown significant improvements in his game from a year ago and could very well end this season as the Islanders’ leading goalscorer. Thomas Hickey just proved that maybe the Islanders do not need to scramble to scoop up a depth defenseman.
If the New York Islanders go and get an elite player like a Taylor Hall (and sign him long-term) or a forward like Kyle Palmieri or Eric Staal, and a depth defenseman, they will be better for it. And Lee’s contract would have been the only reason it was possible. These moves will strengthen the club this year, but this club will be even better next year if the pieces acquired stay.
Is it safe to say they don’t need a depth D man and can use Aho as trade bait? It looks like Hickey can fill that 7th D spot. Maybe even jump in for Greene when he needs a break? (@Lauruska)
It is not safe to say by any means. Thomas Hickey had an impressive showing on Saturday night, picking up two assists and logging over 16 minutes in the big-time win. While it was magical, we need to see a strong performance from Hickey until April 12th. Sebastian Aho looked strong in his first game with the team this year and then struggled his last two before Hickey was given the opportunity.
However, if Hickey can play the way we saw him play Saturday, there is a chance he gets moved at the Trade Deadline over Aho, whose contract is much cheaper than the 32-year old’s deal, which has a cap hit of $2,500,000 through the 2021-22 season.
The second part of your statement I agree with. Andy Greene has not looked his best over the last few games and, at the ripe age of 38, would benefit from a break here and there. If I had to choose between Aho or Hickey to fill in if need be, my pick is Hickey. He showcased a stronger ability in his own zone, he has quicker decision making, while also being able to contribute to the offense.
He is the better fit right now moving forward if he is still around with the team. Aho has only tasted three NHL games this season, and his first since back in 2018. He showcased his flaws but also showcased that he is not a lost cause and has tremendous upside if he can improve. He is only 25 years old and would be worth more than Hickey at the Trade Deadline.
What do you think the isles need to do to improve the power play? (@KC1798)
The Islanders’ power play right now is 0 for their last 6 and, despite getting chances, the personnel is just not coming through. The top unit, quarterbacked by Noah Dobson, looked much improved. But there was still an issue. And it is the fact that Ryan Pulock has not been able to hit the net with his slapshot and has just one power play point on the season.
Now with Dobson out at least for another week, the Islanders need to fix this. I think it is time to move him to the second unit, as Wahlstrom is proving to be more than capable of manning that spot. The young forward has seven power play points on the year with two goals and five assists. You have to earn spots in this league, and right now, the Islanders desperately need to make the most of their power-play opportunities with Lee out.
Speaking of Lee being out, the New York Islanders have yet to find a serviceable replacement on the top unit. Matt Martin was the last player to get that opportunity, and I liked him there. He used his big body to screen the netminder, and also used his 6-foot-4 frame to win puck battles in the corners and got the puck back to the point, so I would continue to put him there.
I know this is a crazy thought, but hear me out, the Buffalo Sabres have put Rasmus Ristolainen in front on their powerplay, which has been the only bright spot for their team. What if the Islanders put a big-bodied defenseman in front? The only issue with this is the injury concern, as I think the last place anyone wants a Pelech, Pulock, or Mayfield is net-front. But despite that glaring issue, it could help the New York Islanders tremendously moving forward.