The New York Islanders are off to a 7-4-1 start to their season as of Wednesday, Nov. 1. The Islanders have won their last two games, which can be attributed to John Tavares’ hot streak and the Islanders’ hot offense.
Heading into their matchup against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, Nov. 2, the Islanders have scored 26 goals in their previous five games. Nine of them have come from Islanders captain John Tavares.
He was named NHL’s First Star of the Week for the week of Oct. 30, for his six goals and one assist in three games the week prior. Tavares netted a hat trick along with an assist against the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, Oct. 24. Four days later he netted a hat trick against the Nashville Predators.
Most recently, Tavares kept up his torrid pace against the Vegas Golden Knights with two goals.
Tavares is really making his case for a big contract and the Islanders are looking like they may keep him long-term. After worries about ice conditions at the Barclays Center and reports of Barclays potentially opting out of their arena contract with the Isles after this year, it seemed like the Islanders were struggling for a long-term plan.
However, the Islanders recently made $3 million renovations to their practice facility in an effort to boost the recruiting process, according to co-owner Jon Ledecky. Having a well-developed practice facility helps provide free agents with a “completely different view of the Islanders.” Having a state-of-the-art training facility will also serve well for a potential future arena in Belmont.
This works strongly in the Islanders’ favor, as they will have eight free agents after this season (hopefully not John Tavares).
Jaroslav Halak will be one of them, who will need a big season in order to get a big contract with another team next season. The Islanders have Thomas Greiss signed through the 2019-20 season and it looks like they may bring up prospect Linus Soderstrom next season to give him NHL experience.
Soderstrom played only 22 games last year, but had allowed 1.34 goals against on average and had a .943 save percentage.
Jason Chimera and Nikolai Kulemin will likely be gone next season, based on the Islanders’ focus on developing young players for the long-term. Unless they have elite stats this season, the team will be making room for players such as Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle, who are currently playing with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The Islanders will likely keep Josh Bailey, who had a stellar year with 13 goals and 43 assists last year. If he keeps playing on the top power play unit with Tavares and Anders Lee, he may produce more if the offense keeps scoring goals.
The Islanders face a Caps team that’s usually one of the best regular season teams in the league, with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom. However, they’ve struggled as of late and have been held to two goals or fewer in five of their last seven games. Alex Ovechkin had seven goals in the first two games of this season but has just three since.
The Islanders will have four games next week. They will host the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, Nov. 5 and Tuesday, Nov. 7, respectively. They will conclude the week with back-to-back games against the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues.