The addition of Derick Brassard was a necessary one for the New York Islanders. He adds some skill and depth up front and perfectly fills the role of third-line center. But what it does as well: adds one more forward to an already bloated Islanders offensive group.
Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang, who are in a critical point of their development, aren’t likely get into much NHL action, especially with Anthony Beauvillier staying on the wing. We know the Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck line is likely to stay together. We also know the top-six group is going to see Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson up the middle, Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle on the right wing and Anders Lee and (probably) Anthony Beauvillier on the left side. The newly added Derick Brassard will center the third line, with Andrew Ladd (when healthy) and Leo Komarov as the likely wingers. I know I’ve said this before but how can anyone expect young talent to emerge when there’s no spots for them to do so?
Andrew Ladd’s contract is brutal and we’re likely to see even more of a decline over the next couple of years. Leo Komarov is in a similar situation, with three years left at $3M per year and just 13 goals and 45 points in his last 156 NHL games. Here’s my pitch: scratch Ladd and Komarov in favour of Dal Colle and Ho-Sang and you’ve a chance at a better lineup. Both Ladd and Komarov are slotted in to be top-nine forwards, yet neither can drive much offense and truthfully, the two wingers would just slow down Derick Brassard. To me, Dal Colle and Ho-Sang on Brassard’s wing look a lot better than Ladd and Komarov.
Now I realize that scratching $8.5M worth of salary is a pretty significant move and it diminishes any remaining scraps of value Ladd or Komarov could possibly have left. But with the fourth-line likely to stick together and the top-six pretty much set, there aren’t a whole lot of options to get Dal Colle and Ho-Sang into the lineup.
Some may think the time to give up on Dal Colle and/or Ho-Sang has already come. But let’s remember that players develop at their own rate and neither has really been given a great opportunity yet. Look at Max Pacioretty, a first-round pick in 2007. His 20 and 21-year-old seasons didn’t go as planned and he had just 25 points in 86 NHL games across the two seasons. His first full season with the Canadiens didn’t come until he was 23 years old. Philipp Danault, who was taken in the first round in 2011, took until he was 23 years old as well to play a full NHL season and before that, he had just 10 points in 53 career NHL games. Last season, at 25 years old, was the first time he hit the 50-point mark.
The point here is some players take a bit of time to find their game at the NHL level. We don’t how well Dal Colle or Ho-Sang would be able to produce given a longer look with the Islanders but we sure know how much offense Ladd and Komarov can provide and it’s not much whatsoever. I’m not saying it’s likely but slotting in two young former first-round picks over two declining wingers on the wrong side of 30 could have a lot more upside for a team who struggles to score.