The All-Star break is a time for teams to reflect on where they’re at this season versus where they had hoped to be. With the New York Islanders once again in the playoff race, let’s take a look at how each forward on the team has performed against what we expect from them.
JOSH BAILEY- falling short of expectations
On a team that struggles for offense, the players that are supposed to help create it can’t fail to do so. While he had a great stretch leading up to the All-Star break, 23 points in his first 42 games won’t cut it. He’s always been inconsistent but this year we’re seeing that more than others.
MATHEW BARZAL- meeting expectations
He has a bit of a recurring turnover problem and was even benched by Barry Trotz for a full period last week but he’s still far and away New York’s top forward. He hasn’t blown any projections out of the water yet but generally he’s been very good.
ANTHONY BEAUVILLIER- surpassing expectations
This is the season that everyone had hoped to see from Beauvillier. He’s way more involved offensively this year and it looks as though he’s really starting to develop into a legitimate top-six forward.
DERICK BRASSARD- meeting expectations
Brassard has been a wildcard for the Islanders. He had a ridiculously good 12-game stretch from late-October to mid-November, where he scored six goals and 15 points while playing on the wing in the top-six. Unfortunately, that 12-game stretch makes up the bulk of his offense for the year, as he has just two goals and nine points in the other 37 games he’s played. A factor to consider though is that when he’s played as third-line center, he often has nobody to work with in terms of wingers and as a result you can’t expect him to put up numbers with no help.
CASEY CIZIKAS- meeting expectations
He’s probably the best (or one of the best) fourth-line centers in the league and once again he’s been solid in his role. He’s not putting up the same numbers as last year but that’s not really what he’s there for. He hasn’t gotten Martin/Clutterbuck as wingers much this year but he’s still managed to be effective.
CAL CLUTTERBUCK- meeting expectations
When he’s played, he’s performed fine and has been key on the penalty kill but injuries have made this a difficult season for Cal Clutterbuck.
MICHAEL DAL COLLE- falling short of expectations
I think this project has just about run its course. It’s unfortunate but Dal Colle hasn’t taken the steps forward that he needed to and even though the Islanders made room in the lineup, he just hasn’t been able to make use of the chance. He does have four points in his last 10 games, so maybe we see him take off, I just wouldn’t count on it.
JORDAN EBERLE- meeting expectations
There were certainly some concerns as to how Eberle would respond from his down year. He hasn’t been perfect and despite a slow start after returning from injury, his four goals and seven points in the last eight games before the break remind you of how good he can be. It’s been a season of ups and downs but it evens out to a decent year from him so far.
ROSS JOHNSTON- meeting expectations
He hasn’t played much and when he does, it all depends what situation you play him in. As a fourth-line player, Johnston works but he shouldn’t step foot in the top-nine.
LEO KOMAROV- falling short of expectations
Komarov can be effective in certain situations but with so many other potential bottom-six options it just seems like he doesn’t have a defined role right now. In all fairness, his contract is definitely an unrelated factor that can grow frustration towards him but I can only watch him take himself out of the play looking for a useless hit so many times.
TOM KUHNHACKL- meeting expectations
He’s been fine when he plays. He’s just not fine playing in the top-nine. It’s not Kuhnhackl’s fault that the Islanders’ lack of offensive depth has forced him into often playing in a bigger role than he should. But he’s performed pretty much exactly how you’d expect him to.
ANDERS LEE- falling short of expectations
If you disregard the first 20 or so games of the season, he’s been great. Unfortunately that’s just not how it works. He got off to a slow start where he had just five goals and 10 points in his first 23 games, before returning to form. That said, while he may be on pace for his lowest goal total since 2015-16, if he continues his current play, he may have surpassed overall expectations for the year if I do this again at season’s end.
MATT MARTIN- falling short of expectations
Unfortunately, Martin hasn’t had the same impact he’s had in the past. The fourth-line hasn’t provided “energy” like it used to and Martin has even been a healthy scratch this season.
BROCK NELSON- surpassing expectations
Who would’ve thought that an increased role could mean increased production? His ice time has risen over the last three seasons and so have his stats. To be fair to Nelson though, it’s not like it’s simply an increased role that’s been the deciding factor, as he’s really rounded out his game. He’s driving more play than ever before and has solidified himself as a legitimate top-six center.
Part two of the All-Star break assessments will come tomorrow and will look at all Islanders' defensemen.
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OTHER ISLANDERS ARTICLES FROM JANUARY
A stretch of games to forget
Jordan Eberle is due to break out of his cold streak
What Adam Pelech's injury means for the Islanders
SHORT READ: Wahlstrom/Pivonka and Team USA eliminated from World Juniors