New York Islanders 2021-22 Season Recapby Carter LaCorte May 8, 2022 0 comments
Few teams had a 2021-22 season as frustrating as the New York Islanders, despite a finish over .500. COVID outbreaks, a key injury to star player Ryan Pulock, and a lack of defensive depth crippled the Isles. They became one of two major surprise playoff misses, alongside the Vegas Golden Knights. Still strapped against the salary cap, next season will be a major one in determining the fate of the franchise. Was this year a fluke, or did this team miss their Stanley Cup window?
Make sure to check out all of our other NHL Season Recaps.
By the Numbers
Power Play: 22.1% (12th)
Penalty Kill: 84.2% (4th)
Goals For: 229 (22nd)
Goals Against: 231 (7th)
Apologies to Brock Nelson, who scored 37 goals in 72 games, but he does not get this award. Goalie Ilya Sorokin took the starting job from Semyon Varlamov via an injury to the latter to open the season. The Islanders tried to keep the balance split, but Sorokin was superior. He will not win the Vezina, but he is very much in the running for a nomination. In 52 games, his .925 save percentage was second only to the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin. Sorokin’s GAA of 2.40 was the fourth-best in the league. He could be a snub for a finalist spot thanks to the team’s lack of success, but they would have been completely lost without him.
There are arguments to be made for so many players on the roster. Oliver Wahlstrom failed to break out, disappearing for most of the season’s second half. The entire fourth line of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck was underwhelming. Josh Bailey‘s total numbers are not bad, but he was tough to watch for most of the season and did a bit of stat-padding at the end. However, Anthony Beauvillier is the runaway here.
The wildly inconsistent Beauvillier made strides in 2019-20 with 18 goals and 39 points in 68 games, then again in 2020-21, scoring 15 times in just 47 games. That all came to a halt this year. In 75 games, his 12 goals were the second-lowest of his career, behind his age 19 season. His 22 assists were a career-high, but Beauvillier still finished with just 34 points. Additionally, a lot of those assists were a benefit of extended time on Nelson’s line. Now, Beauvillier’s future in Long Island is in question.
Behind the Bench Analysis
It’s hard to overcriticize Barry Trotz and his crew considering all that they have done for this team in recent years. Trotz had the stubborn moments that all coaches have, especially when he tried to push Varlamov too many times when it wasn’t working as well. One perfect example is Zdeno Chara. The future Hall of Famer had some decent games but was disastrous overall at both ends of the ice. However, Trotz played Chara in every single game that he was healthy for. Regardless, it is not at all near a crisis point with the coaching staff.
Front Office Analysis
Here is where things get tricky. The defense behind the amazing top pair of Pulock and Adam Pelech hurt the Islanders in last year’s playoffs. Then, general manager Lou Lamoriello traded away Nick Leddy as a necessary salary-cap casualty. However, only bringing in Chara and re-signing an aging Andy Greene to play on the left side was a huge mistake. That, plus the ill-fated Devon Toews trade from two seasons ago is understandably causing ire for fans. Lamoriello needs a huge offseason to fix that, but it seems hard to do.
2022 NHL Entry Draft
The draft will not be extraordinary this year, barring some moves. New York has their first-round pick, which will likely be in the middle of the round. Their only second-rounder was originally the Colorado Avalanche’s, so that will be at the end of the round. The Isles do not have more than one pick in any given round and are without a 4th and 7th round pick entirely. That is encouraging for a team with a weak farm system.
What can Lamoriello do? He is not going to shake the franchise to its core, but he has to do something. Beauvillier and Bailey could be on the move, but their value is either low or nonexistent now. The big thing to add is a top-four, left-handed defender. Unfortunately for them, there is not one on the free-agent market at a reasonable age this summer. Hanging Varlamov as bait is the only way the team can get any value in return, but Lamoriello has been fearful of losing a good backup. He has done some crazy things in the past, but we should not be expecting that again soon.
Follow Carter LaCorte on Twitter @CarterHudBlog
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images