Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – New York Islanders
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th 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 – Tomato/tomatto. Varlamov could do everything that Lehner did, with Barry Trotz as the coach. He is a bit more of an injury risk though, which means Thomas Greiss should – at least on paper – see more games than the 43 he got into last year. Brassard simply replaces Filppula, which hurts them defensively a little, but Trotz’s tight coaching style should make up for that
Ready for full-time – Now we can finally see Josh Ho-Sang at work. He’s appeared in this space the last two years and each time his attitude and reputation (likely) caused him to be sent down. Because when he’s out there for the Islanders he most definitely drives the play. He’s not a goal scorer but he is definitely one of the better set-up men among the NHL prospects. He now has to clear waivers in order to be sent down, so either expect him to make the team or expect a trade.
Competing with Ho-Sang for a precious roster spot will be Oliver Wahlstrom. Last year’s 11th overall pick is the Golden Boy of the Islanders’ forward prospects and he turned pro after one college season with the expectation that he will get a fair shot. A strong camp from him leads me to believe that Ho-Sang becomes expendable. A so-so camp from him means a season in the AHL, which doesn’t hurt. Don’t forget that he is still only 19.
Otto Koivula enjoyed a very strong transition to North American hockey last year when he tallied 21 goals and 46 points in 69 games for Bridgeport as an AHL rookie. He already boasts NHL size at 6-4, 219 pounds and I had him penciled in on the main roster before Brassard was signed. Now it’s unlikely he makes the team, but should see cups of coffee later in the season. You can read more on Koivula here.
The Isles already have seven NHL defensemen but because their system is deep at the position there are a couple of notable names who, albeit as long shots, could steal a roster spot because they are simply too good to cut. Sebastian Aho has already played 22 games in the NHL, and last season he had 46 points in 67 games in the AHL. And Noah Dobson is the Golden Boy of their prospect defensemen. The 6-4 Dobson was drafted 12th overall last summer (right after Wahlstrom) and has nothing left to prove in the QMJHL.
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 New York Islanders finished 22nd in league scoring and I have them projected at around 26th. Besides the aforementioned prospects and the promising defenseman Bode Wilde, the team doesn’t have a lot of surefire future fantasy studs. So if the roster isn’t scoring and the future lacks scorers – can we, as fantasy owners, be happy when one of our players goes there? Mathew Barzal led the team in scoring with 62 points, but he’s shown 85-point ability. If he can get there, and last season was just a sophomore slump, then he’ll drag a couple of other players upward along with him. That would certainly help. But he’s only one man, surrounded by a handful of 50- or 55-point forwards. On defense the team has upside. Ryan Pulock is a much (much) better player than 37 points would indicate and he’ll take that big step forward soon. This year? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s one or two more years down the road. But he’ll get there, mark my words.
With a Barry Trotz-coached team, it’s hard to get excited about them. As fans, sure. But as fantasy owners – nope. And before the Isles' fans come down on me, I still think this is a playoff team. I just don't want my fantasy players going there.
Fantasy Grade: D+ (last year was C-)
Pick up the 14th annual DobberHockey Fantasy Hockey Guide
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