Following his departure from the Washington Capitals, one of the immediate straight lines drawn was for Barry Trotz to be heading to the New York Islanders. They had a vacancy and presumably the desire to bring in a coach with a winning pedigree to not only give the fans some hope but to convince a certain franchise centre to stick around.
The deal was made official on Thursday as Trotz was announced as the next head coach for the New York Islanders. While terms weren’t immediately disclosed by the team, word from Don Brennan was five years at $4-million per season. Remember, his two-year automatic extension with the Caps would have been two years at $1.8-million per season. That’s a pretty hefty raise.
What can fantasy owners expect with Trotz?
Well, when we think of Caps teams of recent seasons, we think of their power play. But the power play was definitely not an issue for the Islanders in 2017-18. In fact, their goals per 60 minutes on the PP was slightly higher than Washington’s. One thing he did do was lean more on his top unit than in seasons past, at least by PP TOI per game. Assuming all their core forwards return, this could mean an extra 30 or so seconds per game for the likes of John Tavares and Anders Lee, with 30 or so fewer seconds per game for the likes of Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson. That might not seem like a lot, but it’s enough for someone like Eberle to lose 3-5 power-play points just through those 30 seconds a game alone. Given the quality of the first unit, I don’t see why Trotz would change his usage strategy.
I am also expecting stability in where players are used. Quite honestly, things didn’t change that much for Washington’s top-6 forward mix last year. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom switched centre roles later in the year, different left wingers were tried on the second line until they eventually settled with Jakub Vrana, but that was about it. There shouldn’t be much concern about someone like Josh Bailey or Eberle losing their roles unless they absolutely tank.
The most worrisome part is Trotz’s reliance on his veterans. Vrana is the name that sticks out. Anyone who reads my Ramblings knows how much I raved about Vrana’s play all season long but it basically took until the final month of the season for his role to be solidified. He was a healthy scratch at times, even. Despite Brooks Orpik being poor defensively all year, and for years, he was a regular in their top-4 mix at five-on-five while others like Christian Djoos were used much less. If I’m a dynasty owner and I have shares of guys that haven’t been able to crack the roster with regularity like Josh Ho-Sang, are on their way like Kieffer Bellows, or may show growing pains like Ryan Pulock and Anthony Beauvillier, I’m a little worried.
Trotz should be able to help defensively, though. The Caps were one of the better defensive teams in the playoffs after a so-so regular season, though they had been pretty good defensively in years gone by. The days of the run-and-gun Islanders are likely gone, which probably isn’t great for fantasy owners looking for guys to repeat monster seasons. Might be good news for their goaltending performances, however.
There is more good than bad with the hiring of Trotz and at least it should show some stability to the players and fans. As a whole, the only big concern I have is whether their young players will be allowed to try and fail at the NHL level, or if they’re going to end up in the press box.