On the floor, dropping Valtteri Filppula doesn’t appear all that important for the New York Islanders, however a more in-depth look ought to have followers involved.
Whereas Filppula’s offensive manufacturing, 17 objectives and 14 assists, appears pedestrian, he was one in all eight Islanders to attain double-digit objectives on a crew starved for offense. His face-off win proportion was tied for second on the crew at 49.1 per cent together with Casey Cizikas and behind Josh Bailey’s 51.5 p.c. Filppula proved to be a dependable participant who thrived below head coach Barry Trotz’s system.
Former New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner celebrates with Valtteri Filppula. (AP Picture/Gene J. Puskar)
What’s regarding, is who will exchange Filppula on the penalty kill, the place the Islanders ranked 10th within the league throughout the 2018-19 season. He and Leo Komarov had been each introduced on board as free brokers previous to the 2018-19 season, partially for his or her potential to kill penalties and shaped an efficient duo and had been usually the lead ahead duo on the ice for the penalty kill. Including to the particular groups concern is the well being of Cal Clutterbuck and the way efficient he can be getting back from low season again surgical procedure. He and Cizikas continued to be a superb penalty killing tandem throughout the 2018-19 season and Clutterbuck’s scenario raises extra issues.
So who will the void on the Islanders penalty kill? Here’s a record of inner candidates and a possible free agent signing.
One in-house candidate to imagine a bigger penalty-killing function is Brock Nelson, who on occasion, crammed in on the penalty kill. Whereas Nelson’s defensive duties elevated final season, nobody would confuse him for a shutdown middle with a future Selke Trophy on his mantle. Add within the additional minutes performed on the facility play and his function within the Islanders’ top-six ahead group, and Nelson could be exhausting pressed to extend his team-leading ahead time on ice from the 17:58 he’s already receiving.
Might Bailey fill the function? Typically cited for his defensive consciousness and three-zone potential, he doesn’t profile as a top-end penalty killer. Very similar to Nelson, including to his minutes as a daily within the top-six ahead group and on the facility play doesn’t make a lot sense, particularly since Trotz likes to distribute five-on-five enjoying time throughout all 4 strains.
Islanders followers have been ready to see any return on funding from Andrew Ladd. There’s been little indication as to when he might return from a knee damage that required ACL surgical procedure. Whereas the hope is he can be prepared for coaching camp, the group can’t belief that he can be wholesome sufficient to contribute in any important approach. Might he be helpful on the penalty kill? Sure, however the group could be higher served believing that something they get from him is a bonus, and a job as a depth penalty killer is extra seemingly.
Tom Kuhnhackl was like a Swiss Military knife and crammed quite a lot of roles, however envisioning him past the additional ahead that attracts into the lineup 20 per cent of the time is troublesome. The identical will be mentioned for Tanner Fritz, whose late season audition was minimize brief resulting from damage, if he even makes the crew out of coaching camp.
Tom Kuhnhackl, New York Islanders, September 17, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Ought to Finnish prospect Otto Koivula make the crew, he may very well be thought of for a penalty killing function. Nonetheless, he has just one season enjoying in North America and is probably going ticketed for an expanded function with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers whereas gaining one other 12 months of seasoning. Koivula might get a take a look at the NHL degree in some unspecified time in the future throughout the season when the damage bug hits the Islanders, however his impression with the crew will seemingly come within the 2020-21 season.
Wanting exterior the group, free agent Brian Boyle, who continues to be ready for a telephone name, may very well be an answer. He would examine plenty of packing containers on a one-year deal as a bottom-six ahead. He has been an efficient penalty killer all through his 12-year profession, whether or not it was with the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightening or New Jersey Devils. His face-off proportion of 51.1 is healthier than all Islanders apart from Bailey. Boyle might additionally present a net-front presence on the facility play if given an opportunity on the second unit. He additionally presents a flexible sufficient talent set that he has the flexibility to crash and bang on the partitions if wanted.
Former New Jersey Satan Brian Boyle (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)If the Islanders are to duplicate their success in 2019-20, the crew’s penalty killing can’t afford to take a step again if the crew needs to succeed in the postseason for a second consecutive 12 months.