Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – New York Islanders
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Not much. Just their generational player is gone, a big chunk of personnel have changed, a different goaltending situation, a new coach and coaching system, and new management with a completely different direction. Other than that, it’s status quo.
Poolies are having difficulty putting their finger on this one. There are so many things that have changed with this team and they have a very real impact throughout not just the roster, but throughout the entire organization. One thing that fantasy owners agree on is this – the production of every key player last season will drop. If newcomer Kovar is good enough to anchor a line with Anders Lee and Josh Bailey, then at least they can leave the Mat Barzal line intact (with Anthony Beauvillier and Jordan Eberle). If they can do that much, then while Barzal will take a small hit in points, it shouldn’t be too bad for the other two because they only really started rolling in the second half and now they have a full season there.
Kovar is no Tavares, so obviously both Lee and Bailey will see a production rollback. But while the points will be reduced team-wide, the wins may actually increase. The upgrade in coaching and the focus on grit and toughness could scratch and claw some wins.
Ready for full-time – Josh Ho-Sang can be sent back down without having to clear waivers. One more year of that. He has a new coach and a clean slate, can he impress? Talent-wise, he’s NHL-ready. When he’s on the ice he’s creating offensive chances almost every shift. But is the attitude and work ethic there? Conventional wisdoms says that if anyone can get the most out of this talent, it’s Barry Trotz. We shall see. At worst, Ho-Sang should still be good for 30 NHL games and 15 to 20 points.
Sebastian Aho made a quick impact last season after he was called up during Johnny Boychuk’s injury absence with two points in his first three games. But he was also a minus-6 in that span and therein lies his drawback. He could use another half-season in the minors yet, but when he’s up he’ll be a secondary power-play option.
Ross Johnston is a pugilist, plain and simple. And for some reason, the Islanders signed him to a four-year contract as if players like him are difficult to find so they’d better lock him in now. He got into four fights in 23 games last season, so one year of service locked in per fight. He won’t play much, especially with Martin now back in the fold, but if he plays 23 games again, expect more of the same.
Devon Toews missed half of last AHL season with an injury after making a very successful transition to pro hockey in 2016-17 with 45 points for Bridgeport. He had picked up where he left off before suffering a shoulder injury in late December. Otherwise he would have been in the NHL getting a trial rather than Aho. He may need to start the first couple of months in the AHL to get back to game speed, but he’ll be in the NHL sooner rather than later. Potentially a great two-way player.
Yannick Rathgeb is a 22-year-old undrafted defenseman who was signed out of the Swiss League after compiling 62 points in 83 games over two seasons. He’s destined for Bridgeport and how well he adapts to the North American game will determine how quickly he makes the jump. But the blue line is one spot where the Islanders have fierce competition among their prospects.
New York Islanders prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The Isles were eighth in NHL scoring last year and boy is that going to change. The entire identity has changed. Between Barry Trotz’s style, the addition of gritty players and the loss of Tavares this team will be lucky to be in the top 20 teams in totals goals. That doesn’t mean they’ll lose more than they did last year (they might actually surprise and win a game or two more than last year). But it does mean that as a team they have lost a lot of interest from fantasy owners. If our players get traded to that team, it won’t be a good thing. The prospect pipeline is above average, with a handful of decent players on the way – most notably a couple of top goaltending prospects and several prospect defensemen. But as good as Barzal is, he doesn’t compensate for the loss of Tavares.
Fantasy Grade: C (last year was B+)
Other Offseason Fantasy Outlooks:
- Ramblings: An Underrated Star Returns With a Bang, Goalie Controversy Thoughts, Kubalik Kontinues (Jan 20)
- Ramblings: The Amazing Ovechkin, Another Elvis Sighting, Kubalik Continues To Score (Jan 19)
- 21 Fantasy Hockey Rambles
- Top 10 Grit Producers
- The Journey: Prospect Trade Bait
- Wild West: Post Christmas Trends
- Geek of the Week: Blake Goalman
- Fantasy Hockey Podcast: If You Danault, Now You Know