Improving player development is key to success this season
The New York Islanders haven’t made any changes to their current attacking core to date. The Isles struggled on offense last season, scoring just 2.78 goals per game, 23rd overall in the NHL. That and GM’s comments Lou Lamoriello on the need to improve attacking led many to believe that there would be a roster reshuffle to improve attacking. However, a few weeks into free agency, Lamoriello still hasn’t budged.
If the Islanders don’t make any changes up front this offseason, the team will have to hope they get some impact from their young players. Longer-serving players need to bounce back and produce as well, but most successful teams operate with one or two younger players who are making significant progress in their development while enjoying cheap contracts. With little cap space, the Islands’ success in 2022-23 could hinge on players like Olivier Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows log consistent minutes and rack up points on cheap contracts.
Nazem Kadri There are rumors that he could potentially sign with the Islands, but at this point it’s just a rumor and at the moment the Islanders need someone to step in from the inside. Younger players could be key next season, potentially filling the void of not making a big free agent signing. If Wahlstrom rebounds, the Yarmouth, Maine native has 20-30 scoring potential. This kind of development is what GMs hope to find in free agency, but it could come at a fraction of the cost. Wahlstrom could be the top scorer for the Islands they were looking for as an insider fix.
Aatu Raty, William Dufourand Simon Holmstrom are three players who will most likely start next season at Bridgeport. It’s not an unreasonable thought to hope they’ll be called up to the NHL at some point next season if they’re still playing well at the AHL level. If not, they have the potential to break into the NHL and contribute to the Islanders in years to come.
The Islanders’ 2022-23 season can be defined by the performance of young players. New head coach Lane Lambert should give more opportunities to young islanders next year. If they burst and succeed as secondary counters, the island attack should be perfect.