Ramblings: Schwartz/Pietrangelo are back, top goalie playoff performers , the post-mortem for the Isles and more (May 069)
One more team was eliminated last week. Here are my thoughts the team, the players, and what the future holds…
New York Islanders
By the point, we all know the book on Barry Trotz. He’ll take a team that on paper you’d think is ranked in one range (let’s say, for this year’s Islanders and many of his Nashville teams – 15th to 20th) and coaches them to better results (let’s say 10th to 15th, and stealing a playoff round). He does this with a sound team-based system that is defensively responsible. This generally drags the point totals down among the forwards as the offense gets spread out, and it makes the goaltenders almost Vezina-worthy. You saw this over the years going back to Tomas Vokoun, Chris Mason, Pekka Rinne, Braden Holtby and now Robin Lehner (and even Thomas Greiss, for that matter). Nothing we saw in the playoffs changed this perception. In fact, it lifted Lehner’s stock even higher, if anything. I’m not so certain if Lehner signs with a different team under a different coach, he does quite so well.
That’s not to say he won’t be great – he has his act together now and seems to be in the zone. He is a very talented netminder and until this season had not ever tapped into that potential. And on a different team he would get more starts, so shedding that shared net situation would more than make up for any value lost at not winning the William Jennings Trophy again. So while he won’t put up the .930 SV% under a different coach, I think overall his fantasy value will improve.
As for the coming summer, the Islanders have six key unrestricted free agents including Lehner. Jordan Eberle, Brock Nelson, Valtteri Filppula, Tom Kuhnhackl and Luca Sbisa. They will have something in the neighborhood of $35 million in cap space to replace these players and can certainly afford to re-sign Lehner. This team will have a com